In 2016, Sasakawa USA was pleased to partner with the US Japan Exchange & Teaching Programme Alumni Association (USJETAA) to begin offering a competitive mini-grant program vis-à-vis the JET Alumni Associations (JETAAs) chapters and subchapters within the United States.
Through this initiative, funded by Sasakawa USA and administered by USJETAA, small grants were awarded to JETAA Chapters and Subchapters in the United States to fund innovative activities that engaged JET alumni in their communities and promoted understanding and friendship between the United States and Japan.
In its inaugural year —which follows the Japanese fiscal year from April 1, 2016-March 31, 2017— Sasakawa USA and USJETAA awarded a total of eight grants to seven JETAA chapters. The selected proposals were:
Program date: September 29, 2016 – October 2, 2016
On September 30, 2016 JETAASC held a special reception at the Kyoto Gardens, a meticulous recreation of an ancient Japanese Garden on the hotel’s rooftop. Beginning with a speech from Consul General Akira Chiba welcoming back recent returnees from the JET Programme, the reception served as the official kick-off reception for the year-long celebration of the JET Programme’s 30th anniversary in 2017.
Program date: September – December 2016
Between September 25, 2016 and December 4, 2016, JETAAFL hosted a series of workshops and practice exams and offered transportation to the testing site for those who were interested in taking the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), which recently opened a testing spot in Florida. The participants of the project prepared for a range of test levels from N5 to N2 and included JET alumni as well as students from University of South Florida and Eckerd College.
Program date: November 12, 2016
This event was held at Startup Hub Chicago in order to emphasize Chicago’s foray into the startup world, and brought three guest speakers to coach former JETs on how to apply their experiences abroad to developing a career plan. The speakers included Jessica Paulson (Pass with Flying Colors), Olivia Cassidy (Upwardly Global), and Lindsay Whipp (Chicago Correspondent at the Financial Times). These speakers helped the JETs think about their career paths, how to network effectively, and how Japan has played a part in their careers.
Program date: October 8, 2016
JETAA Pacific Northwest held a Japanese cultural event that incorporated a workshop on how to make washi and food stations that taught participants how to make various Japanese snacks. This year, food stations taught participants to make onigiri, goma senbei, coffee jelly and curry. The workshop was geared towards families, the general community, and JETAA alumni. It was open to all ages and was hosted at the Japanese Culture and Community Center of Washington.
Program date: December 3, 2016
JETAADC teamed up with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the National Capital Area to host an end-of-the-year holiday party for the children in their program. For many children, this was their first introduction to Japanese culture. Youth for Understanding, an organization promoting international student exchange programs, brought Japanese university students to help as volunteers.
Program date: January 21, 2017
JETAAMN hosted a film screening of “Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War,” followed by a discussion moderated by Kay Thomas with Lawrence Farrar, a career diplomat who was posted in Japan five times, and Hiromi Mizuno, Associate Professor in History at the University of Minnesota, and concluding with a reception. The event was co-hosted with Japan America Society of Minnesota.
Program date: February 23, 2017
JETAADC hosted a dinner for a group of Japanese university students visiting the United States as participants of the Kakehashi project, an exchange program underwritten by the Japanese government, run by Youth for Understanding. JETAADC members gave PowerPoint presentations about their time working as an Assistant Language Teacher or Coordinator for International Relations.
Program date: February 25, 2017
JETAANY conducted its annual Japan-a-Mania event with Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City (BBBS). Thirty-six pairs of Big/Little matches (seventy-two participants total) walked through the BBBS recreation room to experience Japanese dance, try on kimono and happi, make onigiri and origami, learn Japanese writing, and test their dexterity using chopsticks. The objective of the event was to demonstrate to small children how fun and exciting foreign cultures can be. It helped spark an interest in a previously uninterested audience, and increased enthusiasm among those who had already experienced some aspects of Japanese culture.
You can read more information on each program on the USJETAA website.