Welcome, New and Old!

A huge welcome to the JETs who have joined us in Fukushima in 2013, and also to all of you hanging around for another year! The second semester has started back and hopefully you are all (re)adjusting well.

In the spirit of the new JET year, I asked a couple of new JETs to write about their first few weeks in Japan.

Huw Evans-Iwaki

This was my third time arriving in Japan but any sense of nostalgia or sentimentality was immediately substituted with the optimism (anxiety) of beginning a new job. My memories of the Tokyo Orientation that began only 18 jet lagged hours are somewhat hazy as it feels like a long time ago but I do remember the excitement of meeting so many new people. But if the Tokyo orientation did one thing to prepare me for the JET programme it was to set the precedent for the cycle of orientation/meetings/nomikai that dominated the three weeks between arrival in Japan and first proper day at work.

Despite the fact that I really did enjoy the orientation in Tokyo, it was a huge relief to finally arrive in Fukushima, meet my supervisors and move in to my apartment. Of course, everybody’s situation with their living arrangements is slightly different but I found that my apartment was well equipped and larger than I expected. Conveniently, I arrived in my host city a few days before the week-long o-bon festivities began, allowing me to recuperate and get to know my neighbourhood as well as make myself known around town by checking out some of the festivities.

However, no sooner had the o-bon holidays finished than the orientation in Fukushima had begun. I personally felt that this orientation was more useful than the one in Tokyo, perhaps due to the fact everyone was more familiar to each other and the workshops were more specific to our situations. I felt that the current JETs who took time out to help out in both the Tokyo and Fukushima orientations did a really great job of welcoming all the newbies like me. I’d also like to mention here that while the various audiences with various public officials that are conducted throughout the first few weeks do just seem like formalities, it is definitely encouraging to know how seriously the JET programme is considered in Japan.

And so, with the first few weeks over there is little else to do but finally get down to work. Of course, the orientations can only prepare you so much and I personally am ready to meet the students and get teaching. After all, that is why I’m here.どうもありがとうto everyone who has helped me so far. Looking forward to seeing you all at future events!

Tiffany Haraguchi-Iwaki

Hello!  I am one of the five (for now, five) newbie JETs in Iwaki City.  Exactly 20 days have passed since my arrival in Fukushima, and school finally started this week in my town.  20 days ago when we first arrived, we were all quite nervous about teaching.  There are only three new ALT’s hired by the Iwaki BOE, and we shared our concerns on our long bus ride to Iwaki, Fukushima.
My first night in Iwaki, I was surprised at how nice everyone is.  Not only did our sempais treat us to an awesome yakitori dinner, they had prepared a welcome-care-package, which included a hand soap, toilet papers, ramen, and stickers.  At our first orientation at the Iwaki BOE, the BOE supervisors and all 19 ALT sempais were really kind to us.  They took us to local festivals and restaurants, helped us get our phones and internet, and helped us through our orientations.  At the welcome enkai in Iwaki last week, each of us received a gift, and I was really touched.  I met many non-Iwaki Fukushima JETs at the prefectural orientation as well, and they were all very kind to us kohais.

Although I am still nervous at the start of school, I feel extremely lucky that I am surrounded by so many kind-hearted individuals, and I know that I can count on the support of this community when I need the help.  (Even this week, I’ve received so many text messages from sempais checking up on us on our first lessons.)  On behalf of the Fukushima JET kohais, I want to say thank you to our wonderful sempais for their warm support!