2019-2020 Sasakawa USA/USJETAA Mini-Grant Program for JETAA Chapters & Sub-Chapters

In FY2019, Sasakawa USA continued its partnership with the US Japan Exchange & Teaching Programme Alumni Association (USJETAA) in offering a competitive mini-grant program vis-à-vis the JET Alumni Associations (JETAA) chapters and sub-chapters within the United States.

Through this initiative, funded by Sasakawa USA and administered by USJETAA, small grants were awarded to JETAA chapters and sub-chapters to co-host innovative activities that engaged JET alumni and sought to promote better understanding on U.S.-Japan relations in their communities.

In its fourth year of the program—which follows the Japanese fiscal year from April 1, 2019-March 31, 2020—Sasakawa USA and USJETAA awarded a total of three grants to JETAA chapters. The selected proposals were:

*Denotes JET alumnus


JET Alumni Association of Southeast (JETAASE) – Alabama Sub-Chapter

“Opportunities to Strengthen Japan-Alabama Ties: Careers at Japanese Companies and How to Get There”

Program date: Sunday, September 15, 2019
Location: University of Alabama – Bryant Conference Center, Birmingham Room

The JETAASE Alabama Sub-chapter held a seminar to inspire students and young professionals in Alabama to think about Japan-related career opportunities within the region. The event was held at the University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa. The program featured discussions on Japanese ties to the State of Alabama, experience of Americans working for a Japanese company in the United States, and opportunities to gain international experience in Japan. Speakers included: Mark B. Jackson, Honorary Consul of Japan in Alabama and CEO and Chairman, Moreson Conferencing; Charleen Butler, Associate Relations Team, Honda Manufacturing of Alabama; Mellissa Takeuchi*, Special Assistant, Consulate-General of Japan in Atlanta; Trevin Dye*, Assistant Director, Business Development Team, Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO)-Atlanta. The JETAASE Alabama Sub-chapter partnered with the Japan-America Society of Alabama and the University of Alabama to co-host this event. Read a full recap of the event on USJETAA’s website here.

JET Alumni Association of Washington, D.C. (JETAADC)

“Maintaining the JET Momentum: The Post-Exchange Pipeline to Successful U.S.-Japan Leadership”

Program date: Thursday, November 7, 2019
Location: Cultural Vistas, Washington D.C. Office

JETAADC held a special panel discussion and reception to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of the JETAADC alumni chapter. The event featured an interactive panel discussion and award ceremony honoring Paige Cottingham-Streater*, a founding member of JETAA and Executive Director of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission; Executive Director of the U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation; Secretary-General of CULCON. Panelists included: Kat Tarr*, Coordinator for Japan and Korea, Office of Public Diplomacy, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs; U.S. Department of State; Jordan Heiber*, Deputy Representative, MUFG Bank, Ltd., Washington, D.C. Representative Office; and Jessica Kling*, International Program Coordinator, School of International Service, American University. The panel discussion emphasized the connections and continuing impact of JETs on U.S. Japan relations in the Washington, D.C., region. This event was by invitation-only.

New England JET Alumni Association (NEJETAA)

“One Bite at a Time: Building Bridges with Japanese Culinary Arts”

Program date: Saturday, February 22, 2020 from 1-3:30pm
Location: Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) in Boston, MA

The New England JETAA chapter partnered with the Japan Society of Boston (JSB) to co-host an educational workshop highlighting food as a universal language to build cultural understanding between the United States and Japan. The event aimed to educate attendees about the history, tradition, and cultural significance of Japanese cuisine as well as how food education can facilitate stronger U.S.-Japan ties. The first half of the workshop featured Debra Samuels, a cookbook author and former contributor to the The Boston Globe. She now leads the program content and curriculum development at Table For Two USA (TFT USA), a non-profit organization that promotes their original program, “Wa-Shokuiku: Learn. Cook. Eat Japanese!”. During her segment, Debra gave a presentation on Japanese cuisine and its historical and cultural influence on U.S.-Japan relations, and then led an interactive workshop teaching attendees how to prepare and eat a healthy, traditional Japanese bento lunch. Attendees learned Japanese concepts such as mottainai (don’t waste) and me de taberu (to eat with your eyes) to remember the importance of not wasting food and that food should be enjoyed visually in addition to its taste and smell.

The second half of the workshop featured Alexis Agliano Sanborn* (Shimane, 2009-2011), a JET alumni and former member of the TFT USA team. Alexis presented the Boston premiere of her new documentary, “Nourishing Japan,” about kyushoku (Japanese school lunch) and shokuiku (food education in Japan). In the film, Hiroko Ikarashi, Nutrition Instructor in Yamagata Prefecture explained, “Food education is more than just keeping us alive. It’s the root of a healthy life. In 2005, the Food Education Law was passed. Since then, nutritionists across Japan teach elementary students about eating well.” Attendees also had the opportunity to participate in a brief Q&A with Alexis that touched upon the making of the documentary, the politics of food, and some differences between Japanese and American school cafeterias. Approximately 55 people attended this event made of up JET Program alumni, JSB members, and their families. This event was the second collaboration between NEJETAA and JSB, as well as the second time NEJETAA received a grant through the Sasakawa USA/USJETAA mini-grant program.

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