Message from the Scottish Chair

7th September 2020

Message from the Scottish Chair

To all JETAA UK members

Around 2000 Martin Seligman turned psychology on its head. He became the president of The American Psychological Society and brought positive psychology into the mainstream. His model is called PERMA (Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationship, Meaning and Accomplishment) and for me (I’m a psychology student) it is not a bad way to talk about my recent experience of JETAA.

Positive Emotion or hedonic pleasure is where our chapter spends most of its focus (huge surprise). When I think of JETAA I think of late-night karaoke, sake tasting (thank you Consul General) and fabulous Japanese meals together. Lately, it has been more virtual drinks and quizzes, but the principle has been the same. It is a great giggle and does me good. JETAA London have taken their quiz night online with great success.

Engagement is also known as Flow. This may be the biggest single thing I have learnt from The Japanese; their dedication to mastery (of practically anything). Alumni are active in kyudo, shaku hachi and language learning, to name a few. My daughter and I are into origami and manga drawing. Hats off to JETAA Midlands chapter for coming up with the photography competition. A great way to showcase people’s focus on photography and storytelling about Japan. Finding a way to improve yourself has been an important way to keep positive during lockdown.

JETAA has been a nice extra strand of Relationships that has cushioned me somewhat from the impact of lockdown on my social life. Because we found a way to continue to “meet” online, it has helped me keep a sense of normality. Going online has meant getting to know new JETAA. Some of these people are just starting their working life and wondering what to do next. I hope JETAA members will be able to support our younger members with advice and info about job opportunities at this time. Supporting our local Japanese restaurant when they experienced racism was another way in which maintaining relationships has been a boost to our wellbeing. 

Helping others is one way of finding Meaning in life. JETAA seems to often combine meaning with hedonism. JETAA London and Midlands have both managed to raise money for international charity Ashinaga. I recommend their video, explaining what they do. Akemi Tanaka came to our monthly online social and told us about her charity work supporting survivors of the 2011 earthquake. JETAA Scotland hope to welcome them to Scotland and show them around (to share delicious food and late-night karaoke).

It can be hard to have a sense of Accomplishment in these restricted times but the JETs Who Get Things Done private Facebook group shows that growing vegetables, connecting with others or sorting the house are all accomplishments worth marking.

It has been a poignant time recently, as we marked the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. As Barrack Obama and Shinzo Abe noted in 2016, “perhaps above all, we must reimagine our connection to one another as members of one human race. For this, too, is what makes our species unique”. In our small way, JETAA are finding new ways to keep connected and I hope we continue to make each other laugh, provide companionship, and support each other. お気をつけてください.


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