Satogaeri Project – Chance for JET Alumni to Return to their Region and School in Japan

There are lots of exciting things happening lately! We just finished a very successful 10th anniversary Tampa Natsumatsuri and held a Q&A with the new JETs getting ready to head to Japan. We also had a great time at our first ever Archery event here in Miami. Our conversation meetups are going strong, with the Tampa Tsudoi held the first Friday of the month and the Miami’s Coffee Kaiwa held on the last Saturday of the month.

What is really exciting, however, is a great opportunity for JET Program alumni to return to the area they lived in Japan and the school where they taught. The Satogaeri Project. As part of the project, JET alumni will return to their former places of work, and re-visit places with which they have a strong affiliation, local residents who they developed close relationships with, current JET participants and others, on the basis of their ‘Satogaeri Project Plan’. If accepted, the JET alum will travel to Japan from Monday, 9 November, 2015 – Friday, 13 November, 2015 (4 nights, 5 days). After participating in exchange activities in Tokyo, the participants will each return to the area in Japan where they lived and worked as a JET participant, and engage in activities according to their own ‘Satogaeri Project Plan’. CLAIR will cover the cost of travelling to Japan; domestic travel, accommodation and meal expenses in Japan (excluding meal expenses when the participant is not engaged in Satogaeri Project duties); and overseas travel accident insurance (travel insurance). For more details about this wonderful opportunity and how to apply, please visit:

The application deadline for the Satogaeri Project is coming up soon, July 13th, 2015. If you’d like to apply and would like a letter of recommendation from the Florida JETAA chapter, please contact as soon as possible with a list of the ways you’ve been involved in JETAA (the requirement of active JETAA participation is waived if there is no JETAA chapter in your area, so if you’re in a region of Florida where we do not have much representation we would be happy to provide a letter to that extent).

  1. Applicants must have completed their appointment on the JET Program as an ALT, CIR, SEA and be actively contributing to their local JET Alumni Association (if a chapter is in your area)
  2. You would be a suitable representative of JET Program alumni.  You have been recommended by your JETAA chapter (see recommendation letter information below).
  3. You have a strong desire to reconnect with your former contracting organization and the region you previously lived and worked in, and you are able to make direct contact and cooperate with the school/workplace that you worked at.
  4. Your former workplace is able to receive you (and carry out activities with you during your visit).
  5. You will actively post about your experiences in and impressions of Japan from the perspective of an international visitor on your blog, homepage, Facebook page or other means.
  6. You accept that there may be mass media coverage of your visit, and will cooperate where required.
  7. You will write a report of your experiences on the Satogaeri Project after returning to your home country.
  8. You are able to participate in the entire schedule of the Satogaeri Project.
  9. Your Satogaeri Project Plan is deemed appropriate.
  10. You are a participant who completed your term on the program 3 or more years ago (preferred).
Letters of Recommendation
  1. Letters of recommendation are not mandatory but are highly encouraged from your JETAA chapter or another Japan-related group, to show the applicant’s engagement with alumni and likelihood to carry out the provisions of the project.
  2. Letter of recommendation should be sent to Arisa Maruno by July 13th

I hope that many members of our chapter will take advantage of this opportunity and apply!

Visit from CLAIR Representatives


Representatives from CLAIR Visit Miami

David (FLJETAA Webmaster), Antonio (a newly returned JET alum), and Bahia (FLJETAA President) attended a dinner with representatives from CLAIR Tokyo, Mr. Shirasaki, Mr. Inoue, and Zachary Bass. The representatives from CLAIR stopped by Miami after visiting Jamaica, then headed back to Japan. They were really interested in what JET alumni in Florida do after JET and if it was related to Japan or if we got into that job or field because of our experience on JET. They were also really interested in whether or not JETAA and JET alumni maintain ties with Japanese people (teachers, students, etc) from our time on JET or if we maintain ties to sister cities of Florida cities.

Elections 2012 Announcement

Sorry for the delay in election announcements.  This year, none of our positions were contested.  Due to this, the Board of Directors discussed and agreed to the continued appointment of our current officers.

We still have openings for regions reps and our newslettter editor/information officer.  If you’re interested in getting involved, please send me an email at floridajetaa [at]  Region reps are positions that are a great way to get involved and learn what the board does, without needing to invest too much of your time.  These positions are essential to keeping the community connected over the expanse of Florida.  Openings: Pensacola, Ft Meyers (currently served by the Tampa Region Rep), and Gainesville.

To contact any of the reps or officers please visit:

Elected Officers:

President – Bahia Simons-Lane

I am a transplanted JET alum originally from Washington, DC.  I was a JET in Gunma prefecture from 2005 – 2007, where I taught at an all girls’ high school deep in the mountains.  I held the position of ALT Advisor for the Gunma Board of Education from 2007 – 2008 and planned the prefectural Mid-Year Seminar for JET/non-JET ALTs and JTEs, provided support for Gunma JETs and worked closely with the Prefectural Advisor (JET CIR), and taught at a variety of special needs schools that otherwise would not have a native English speaking teacher (including the blind school, deaf school, physically/mentally handicapped schools, and hospital schools).  I am currently pursuing an MS in International and Intercultural Education at FIU.

Florida JETAA faces some unique challenges in becoming a vibrant alumni association; primarily that Florida is a large state and our alumni are very spread out, yet there are relatively few alumni for the state size. To face this challenge, I would like to increase involvement in our virtual community by using our website, Yahoo Groups list server, and Facebook.  I will provide as much support as possible to regional representatives across Florida in planning regular events.  I will get JETAA involved in related groups and associations that support Japanese language and culture.  I will make sure the two hubs of JET alumni in Miami and Tampa are regularly communicating and supporting each others activities as much as the distance provides.   JETAA is a great way to provide information about professional and social opportunities to members of the community, from job openings inside and outside of Florida, to social opportunities, to opportunities for being cultural ambassadors, so I hope to see more alumni getting involved.

Treasurer –  Gerard Batista

I was a JET in Yamaguchi from 2002 – 2005.  I live in Tampa and have been involved in Florida JETAA for many years.

Vice-President – Erika Washburn

I grew up in Norway and was raised with a great appreciation and interest for other countries and cultures. At an early age, I was introduced to Japanese culture and the interest stuck with me through adolescence. After moving to the US, completing my undergrad in International Studies, and working in the corporate world for a few years, I learned of JET and jumped on the opportunity! My husband and I moved to Oita city on Kyushu. I taught English and culture classes for Oita Commercial High School and loved it! Both my husband and I participated in culture and language exchange events with my school and the local community. We were also active members of AJET and joined our fellow JETs in the various trips, events and fund raising opportunities. We moved back to Tampa in 2010 (I now work for AACSB International and my husband is a music teacher), but we continue to keep Japanese traditions  in our daily lives, and JETAA is a great help at keeping the culture fresh!

I have served as your FL JETAA Vice President since 2011 and will enjoy continuing in this role. My duties and responsibilities have included advertising for JET in the Tampa area, recruiting for JET at USF, collaborating with other local Japanese groups, hosting the JET Welcome Home Party, organizing JETAA get-togethers, as well as serving on the planning committee for the Tampa Natsumatsuri.  I would be honored to continue serving in this capacity for our great group of FL JETs!

Secretary – Alison Youngblood

I was an ALT from 2004 to 2006 in Hidaka-shi, Saitama-ken.   Like all JETs, my time in Japan was incredibly influential.  When I started the program, I imagined that it would be a gap year between university and law school.  However, it actually helped me to discover my passion for teaching, and I decided to change gears professionally to become an English teacher.  It has been six years and counting since I left Japan, and I still keep in touch and travel with some locals and fellow JETs from my host city so continuing to work with the Board feels like a natural step.

During this past year as Secretary, I have worked closely with the President to revise the bylaws in order to achieve tax free status in the state of Florida.  I have also hosted JET information sessions in Central Florida to recruit new applicants, volunteered at events hosted by the Japanese community, and worked with the Regional Representative to organize local events.  However, I still see areas in which I can expand my involvement with the organization.

I hope to continue to work with the Board to find new ways to reach out to the returning JET community.  I think we can take steps to develop a connection between FLJETAA and current JETs representing Florida through the new JETAA website.  I hope to encourage fellow alumni to contribute blogs about their life after JET.  I would also like to see current JETs blogging about their experiences in real time.  By developing this link between current JETs and the JETAA, we will have a good chance of increasing our active membership.  In addition to increasing our active membership, I think it is important as Secretary to keep more detailed records involving the activities of FLJETAA and local chapters to see how our chapter is growing and changing.  Finally, as a member of the Board, I think staying active locally is one of my most important roles.  Since our membership is spread out over the state, it is crucial for local chapters and regions to develop a strong JETAA network.  After all, JET is about people and personal connections.  All in all, I hope to continue working as Secretary in the next term to further develop the connections between JET alumni and the Japanese community in the state of Florida.

Webmaster – Abigail MacBain

I participated with JET straight out of college. I was a prefectural ALT in a base high school, and throughout the year I also visited two other high schools and one special needs school. For my second year as a JET, I was treasurer for Aomori AJET and the moderator for the Traveling JETs Special Interest Group. Some of my favorite memories from JET include traveling (especially throughout Tohoku and Hokkaido), working with my students, and driving along rural country roads. After JET, I went to McMaster University in Ontario to get my MA in Religious Studies, majoring in East Asian Religions. After that, I was a JET application processor at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC for a few months before coming down to Florida to become the new JET Coordinator in May, 2009. I am also the webmaster for the Florida chapter of the JET Alumni Association.

Newsletter Editor/Information Officer – Position Open

This position works with the president and secretary to reports back to the chapter the annual chapter achievements and works with the webmaster to create and source blog content. Contact floridajetaa [at] for more info.

Region Reps:

Pensacola – Rise (Interim)

Tallahasee – Melissa

Jacksonville – Lisa

Gainesville – Open

Orlando – Tom

Tampa – John

Treasure Coast – Erin

Ft. Meyers – Tampa Rep (Interim)

South Florida – Wendy

Keys – Adriana

Congratulations to the new JETs!

Earlier this week, announcements went out to 2012 JETs from Miami!


Congratulations, and welcome aboard!


There will be further announcements later this summer about get-togethers and opportunities for JET alumni to meet and greet their new kouhai!

Job/Teacher Training: Urban Teacher Center (UTC)

The following is from Kerry Swarr, Director of Human Capital at Urban Teacher Center:

The Urban Teacher Center (UTC) is a four-year, alternative teacher preparation program that operates in the Washington, DC region (and soon in additional cities).  Each cohort participates in an intensive year-long residency, followed by a three-year teaching commitment in a high-need urban elementary, middle or high school.  UTC residents prepare to become highly competent teachers; in addition to the clinical experience, they also enroll in a Master’s of Education program that is directly relevant to the urban teacher.  All UTC teachers are part of an unprecedented commitment to student performance:  only those who can demonstrate that they can improve student learning will complete the program.  Over time, UTC teachers will be among the most expert and results-oriented in the nation.   For more information, visit us on the web at
Our upcoming application deadlines for the 2012-13 school year are: October 15, 2011, December 15, 2011, February 15, 2012, April 15, 2012 and May 15, 2012.  The program for the 2012-2013 school year will begin in late June 2012.  The application is available via the UTC website at

Life After the B.O.E. – Now Available!

All JETs keenly remember the moment when they realized their JET experience was not going to be exactly what they had envisioned: the cold apartments, the rural countryside, the plethora of food definitely NOT provided at your favorite Japanese restaurant back home… But there were amazing moments, too, such as making a breakthrough with a student, finally feeling like a useful member of your teaching staff, and realizing that your Japanese town or city would always have a place in your heart.

Toronto-based artist David Namisato has been delighting the JETAA community for years with his monthly “Life After the B.O.E” web comics, which perfectly capture the wonderfully bizarre range of emotions and situations JETs experience.  And now they’re available in book form (and with several more brand new comics!).

Available at and CreateSpace, consider picking one up for yourself or for a fellow JET in your life!

For Fukui’s Sake – A new novel by a JET alum

A JET alumni named Sam Baldwin recently released a novel of his experiences as a JET in rural Japan.  Please check out the blurb below and read more on his site

For Fukui’s Sake: two years in rural Japan – by Sam Baldwin –

Far from the high-tech, high-rise of the super-cities, there lies another Japan.

A Japan where snakes slither down school corridors, where bears prowl dark forests and where Westerners are still regarded as curious creatures. Welcome to the world of the inaka – the Japanese countryside.

Unhappily employed in the UK, Sam Baldwin decides to make a big change. Saying sayonara to laboratory life, he takes a job as an English teacher in a small, rural Japanese town that no one – the Japanese included – has ever heard of.

Arriving in Fukui, where there’s ‘little reason to linger’ according to the guidebook, at first he wonders why he left England. But as he slowly settles in to his unfamiliar new home, Sam befriends a colourful cast of locals and begins to discover the secrets of this little known region.

Helped by headmasters, housewives and Himalayan mountain climbers, he immerses himself in a Japan still clutching its pastoral past and uncovers a landscape of lonely lakes, rice fields and lush mountain forests. Joining a master drummer’s taiko class, skiing over paddies and learning how to sharpen samurai swords, along the way Sam encounters farmers, fishermen and foreigners behaving badly.

Exploring Japan’s culture and cuisine, as well as its wild places and wildlife, For Fukui’s Sake is an adventurous, humorous and sometimes poignant insight into the frustrations and fascinations that face an outsider living in small town, backcountry Japan.

If you know of any other alumni projects that might be of interests to other JET alumni or current JET participants please comment below.