(JETAA is such a valuable network! I wrote this article summarising the benefits of membership for the 2013 Returner’s Conference Edition of the AJET Connect magazine).
Wherever you hail from, there is sure to be a local JET Alumni Association for you to get involved in. Make sure to register at your local chapter website, and select the option to receive the (max 2x/monthly) mailshots to keep up to date. JETAA UK’s website is: http://www.jetaa.org.uk/.
We are looking forward to welcoming you back! Otsukaresama deshita. Here’s what your local JETAA can do for you, and only with your generous volunteering help.
Events – Local chapters organise all sorts of meet-ups for alumni, sometimes Japan-related, and other times not. Here in London we organise monthly pub nights, walks, restaurant nights, karaoke, classes, theatre and exhibition trips. We also have a volunteer-manned stall at the annual Japan Matsuri. JETAA can help you keep in touch with Japanese culture by sharing news of upcoming Japan-related events; from film festivals to book launches. Also, did you know that The Japan Society offers a highly discounted membership for newly-returned JETs? Contact them for more details when you get back. http://www.japansociety.org.uk/
Meet Friends – Contrary to popular belief, JETAA is not just one big Japan-nostalgia fest! Not unless you want to spark one off! Rather, JETAA chapters are a gathering of diverse people who do all happen to have an interest in Japan in common. Members span across all the previous years of the JET Programme, and do not only include those recently returned. It’s easy to meet new friends and, occasionally, even significant others!
Careers Advice – As mentioned above, JETAA members are of a variety of ages, with widely differing work experience. This means it is possible to meet people who are involved in the very kind of career that you are interested in yourself. Great chance to pick their brain! There are also industry-specific networking events throughout the year, including events for Creatives, Entrepreneurs and Freelancers.
Committee Volunteers – The alumni associations worldwide are run by volunteers. This is a fantastic opportunity to gain valuable work experience in event planning, teamwork, planning, and management. Also, your local chapter will likely operate a website and social network pages on twitter and Facebook, which committee members kindly maintain for the benefit of all. Importantly, you’ll get to know those who work locally in Japan-related organisations, such as the Japan Society, JLGC and the Embassy.
One-off Volunteering – If you’d prefer not to join the committee, but are still interested in contributing, there are plenty of occasions to get involved. If you are a budding (or fully-fledged!) writer, consider submitting an article to the website where it will have instant exposure to a wide audience. Keep your eye on the mailshots to discover events (such as the annual Japan Matsuri in London) where extra volunteers are needed to assist on the day.
Websites – JETAA websites around the world will vary in content, but will offer useful pages like those of our UK website; a forum, job listings, and an events calendar, as well useful links and links to JETAA social networks. Don’t forget to sign up as a member to receive the regular mailshots!
Article written by Vanessa Villalobos, formerly JETAA UK Chair, and now JETAA London Communications Officer. Vanessa’s day job involves running a tutoring agency http://www.isshonilondon.co.uk/, as well as a website about everything Japanese in London http://www.japaneselondon.com/.