僕は愛知県へ行きます!でも、町はまだわかりません。I found out my placement last weekend. I’ll be going to Aichi Prefecture, which is in the Chubu region! However, I still don’t know which town yet. I’ve been researching on the prefecture and how prefectures work. Apparently, a prefecture is similar to a state in the U.S. The capital of Aichi Prefecture is Nagoya, the forth largest city in Japan. I’m very happy with my placement as the prefecture is somewhat in the middle of Japan between Tokyo and Osaka. I didn’t want the northernmost or southernmost otherwise it would be more difficult to travel around Japan. It is now up to the Board of Education with whom I’ll be contracted to inform me of the town as well as my predecessor’s contact information.

On my application under placement preferences, I listed locations in and around Tokyo. This was before I researched more on Japan, but my preferences also reflected my love for the urban life. Although I feel that I would be able to adjust to a rural town of rice paddies, I prefer the vibrant energy of the city. After reading up on city living expenses, I was very pleased with being placed in Aichi-ken. Another thing that is excellent is that I found at least one church in the prefecture. So all is looking good—of course being placed anywhere else in Japan would also have been good. I look forward to finding more information especially on the town where I’ll be placed when I am notified about it.

In a previous post, I mentioned that all candidates who pass the initial application screening have an interview in February. I would like to recount my interview experience for you all. My interview was on February 16th at 10:30AM. I flew home on Wednesday night, which was a good idea because there was a snow storm earlier that week in the northeast. What if it hit on Wednesday or Thursday?? I commuted from home in northern New Jersey and arrived at the General Consulate of Japan in New York by 10AM after much slipping and sliding on the dirty snow. I was directed to the floor where the interview took place and acquainted myself with two other interviewees in the waiting area. There was a former JET participant to collect our required slips of papers that was sent earlier by mail. I wasn’t nervous at all; I don’t mind interviews and somewhat enjoy them. It’s sort of like auditioning.

When I went in, I was greeted by three people: a Ministry of Education representative, a Japanese woman from Swarthmore (whom I have no idea why she was an interviewer), and a former JET participant, who asked most of the questions. The first third of the interview went as expected with general questions like why I want to participate in the program. Interestingly, they asked me often about how the JET Program would meet my goals considering I majored in theatre arts. Of course it wasn’t simply repeated verbatim; it was rephrased. The second third of the interview was the most surprising for me. I anticipated giving a demo lesson, but instead I was asked to introduce myself to them as if they were students who knew little, if any, English. I was instructed to pretend I have visual aids and any other materials that would supplement my introduction.

I started off with a こんいちは (konnichiwa), followed by a basic introduction of my name and location. The Ministry of Education representative raised his hand and asked, “You say you are from New Jersey. What is it like??” My brilliant answer: “There… are… lots of… trees.” I quickly changed my topic to New York since I identify more with New York City. I mentioned how I am a Chinese American, so considering it was just two days before Chinese New Year, I talked about red envelopes and other festivities. I transitioned somehow to Valentine’s Day since it was just two days after and presented differences between Japan and America on its traditions. After my introduction, I expressed my dissatisfaction with myself because I felt I was rushing and used too many complex sentences.

The last third consisted of my question to them, which was not at all elegant or eloquent. I was trying to ask about the differences between teaching styles in America and Japan, but they were not clear on what I meant. I tried to clarify, and I felt that it ended up in a jumbled mess. They tried their best to answer my question, which was helpful. They talked about the importance of community in Japan. For example, the class might clean the floor together.

By the end of the interview, I was still confident, but not as high as the first third of the interview. I couldn’t gauge how well it went mainly because the interviewers gave very few expressions. In some ways they would be the perfect theatre casting team as it seems casting directors reveal more emotions.

Stay tuned next week for a look into video games and the required materials after being shortlisted as a JET!

今週の写真: My camera recently arrived in the mail, and I haven’t had the chance to use it much yet. So for this week, here’s a map with Aichi Prefecture highlighted.


今週の漢字: 楽(しみ)

遊園地が大好きです! I have lots of fun at amusement parks. My favorite ride is Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror. I’ve only been on the one at MGM Studios in Disneyworld. I hope to go to every Disney park in the world. So far I have visited Disneyworld many times and the original Disneyland once. I will definitely try to go to the Tokyo Disneyland, especially DisneySea. I hear it’s lots of fun—plus it has my favorite ride. Anyway, I also love roller coasters, and I have heard about some amazing roller coasters in Japan. Before Kingda Ka at Six Flags: Great Adventure, the fastest roller coaster was in Japan.

Here’s an interesting little tidbit about the world’s top theme park attendance for 2006. The fact that I found most interesting is how the only Universal Studios that made it on the list is the one in Japan at ninth place.
1. Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, 16.64 million, up 3 percent
2. Disneyland, Anaheim 14.73 million, up 1.2 percent
3. Tokyo Disneyland, 12.90 million
4. Tokyo DisneySea, 12.10 million
5. Disneyland Paris, 10.60 million
6. Epcot, 10.46 million, up 5.5 percent
7. Disney-MGM Studios, 9.10 million, up 5 percent
8. Disney’s Animal Kingdom, 8.91 million, up 8.6 percent
9. Universal Studios Japan, 8.50 million
10. Everland, South Korea, 7.50 million
Source: Theme Park Insider 2007-04-03 <http://www.themeparkinsider.com/flume/200704/320/>

Back to the JET Program, I will write briefly about the application process. The first step is the paper application to submit to the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C. It consists of answering questions on general information, teaching experience, previous employment, and physical and mental health. Other parts of the application include an essay, transcripts from all colleges attended, and two recommendations. Once all this is submitted by the deadline, which in 2006 was early December, the Embassy will let the candidates know in late January who will continue onto the interview. Then the interview usually takes place in February followed by all the materials sent to Japan to be reviewed by the Council for Local Authorities on International Relations (CLAIR), who ultimately chooses whether to accept (short-list), waitlist (alternate), or reject. However, the employer is not CLAIR or the Japanese government or the government of the JET’s home country. It is instead with the contracting organization that each JET is placed.

This process seemed like a mixture of applying to a college and a job. There was a great deal of waiting, and after more information arrived, there was more waiting for the next step. For example, even now I am waiting for more information on specific placement, but the hard part in terms of the pre-departure process is over. For myself, I just need to continue with my self-studies on Japanese.

Stay tuned next week for a look into the JET Program’s interview and my placement information!

今週の写真: Another picture with my family, but this time at Universal Studios Orlando.



University of Miami’s graduation was yesterday. It was great, and the speeches were very touching! I can’t believe that school has ended, unless I decide to go to graduate school. Now I’m off into the “real world.” Looking at this philosophically, I suppose I will always be a student since everyday I acquire new information. So because of this event, I will first reflect a bit on my college years. It has been a bumpy ride, as most things tend to be. My first two years at NYU were filled with lots of drama—both academically and socially. Academically, well, because I was in Tisch getting my basic acting training at Playwrights Horizons Theater School. Although I tried as hard as I could in NYU, I was focusing more on my social life. I was so distracted by often meeting up with friends or going home every weekend. I realize now that the weekends were the best times for me to do my schoolwork. NYU’s administration was also tough as I had many ambitions: to play in the orchestra or sing in a choir, act in many plays, write plays and screenplays, double major in psychology, take more foreign languages, and much more. Unfortunately, acting studio coupled with all the distractions took a toll on me, and it resulted in my Christian foundation slowly uprooting. However, I still learned a lot academically during my time at NYU. In retrospect, I also learned quality information about life from my time there. It is a good school for the right student, but it just wasn’t for me.

My time in Miami was spent on the flipside. I didn’t lead as active of a social life as I did in New York. I focused more on my liberal arts, which was one of my reasons for transferring to UM in the first place. I used the weekends to focus on my studies as well as time for myself. I really enjoyed most of my classes and learned a great deal academically. There was a big difference between the theatre students here and in New York. It seems that most students here have a very bright and sunny outlook, whereas the NYU drama students view things darkly. I identify most with New York, and it was awkward when students during the costume design portion of the stagecraft class presented variations of “love conquers all.” Such ideas, although occasionally warranted, make me cringe. Instead, I went with a project that I aptly titled “Drowning at the Hands of Temptation,” a project looking at the heart of conflict dragging the main character into despair. As much as I loved my time in Miami, I sometimes felt out of place. Maybe that’s how it supposed to be—my heart is with New York after all. It was rather difficult to befriend many people from school because I was a commuting transfer student. Therefore, most of my friends that I made in Miami are from the Chinese Baptist Church. I grew more, spiritually, as I gained more insight on the Word.

Before my senior year, my plan for post-college was that I would return to New York and audition. Thankfully I already had a role as a supporting lead in an independent film that filmed during the summer of 2006. If auditions didn’t go too well, I would look for jobs as I continue to audition. Maybe I would see if the company where I worked part-time during my time at NYU had any openings. However, as life is unpredictable, this plan changed in October when a representative from the Consulate General of Japan in Miami visited my Japanese class. He gave out information regarding the JET Program. Immediately when I received the pamphlet, I was interested. One of my goals is to travel the world and experience as much of other cultures as I can. Although my passion is in drama, I have many other interests like psychology and teaching. This opportunity was something I could not pass up. I tend to be a tad too impulsive sometimes, so first I prayed and then consulted some people on the issue. My parents were the most confused with this idea of the JET Program because I went to a magnet high school focusing on medicine followed by majoring in drama, and now I am informing them of this idea to be an assistant English teacher. Their concerns were reasonable, as this progression does seem very random. The good thing about this program is that they are looking for people who can use the opportunity to further one’s own skills and goals. I am not abandoning theatre, but rather I hope to use my theatre skills that I have acquired for the purpose of teaching English. After I addressed their concerns, they were fully supportive. Thus, the application process began.

Stay tuned next week for a look into the JET Program’s application process and a short discussion on theme parks!

今週の写真: University of Miami’s College of Arts and Sciences Commencement

mom, sister Hannah, sister Sarah, me, and dad

今週の漢字: 始(める/まる)

It is truly the beginning—a bright start of many things. As college life ends, life in the “real world” begins. I’ll soon be traveling to Japan as a participant of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program, where I’ll be an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) of English. It seems that there will be more acronyms than I have ever faced as I continue to venture into this territory of life. I suppose it’s less than if I pursued psychology.

I will be leaving from New York City on July 28, 2007 and attending the program orientation with group A. The departures are arranged in three groups: A, B, and C. Each departure point is placed in either group A or B. Group A arrives first at the end of July and completes orientation by August 1, whereas group B arrives and completes orientation the following week. Group C is designated for alternates (wait-listed) who are upgraded past the deadline that would have allowed the upgraded participant to arrive with the originally intended group. If you are lost, I don’t blame you. If you get into the program, all that matters is to know which group you depart with.

I still do not know where I am placed, but will post it up when I find out. If you are one of those people who ask me every time I see you, I will let you know as soon as I find out. For the remaining weeks leading up to my departure, I will be writing more about the application process. I am hoping to continue with my Japanese studies and build up on what I have learned this year in my UM Japanese classes that were taught by the fabulous Mari-先生. I also want to learn more Chinese. Maybe this is too ambitious, but I am going to give it a try anyway. So what if my mind is already thinking in English, French, Chinese, and Japanese??

The purpose of this blog is to serve as a journal of my experiences as a JET. As much as this is for my family and friends, I intend for this blog to be a valuable source for people who are interested in applying to the JET Program. I plan on updating every week either on Friday or Saturday. Everyone feel free to comment even if you do not have a blogger username. =)

Stay tuned next week for thoughts on graduation and specifics on what drew me to the JET Program!

今週の写真: Because I do not have a camera yet, here's an adorable cat and bunny.