Making Connections

Night-time view from Senkoji Park, Onomichi.
Night-time view from Senkoji Park, Onomichi.

Words by Kevin Galbraith. Photo by Harriet Draper

As a new JET Program participant, you have a multitude of deadlines and tasks to meet and accomplish.  Over the next couple of months and even after you arrive in Japan, your life is sure to be a sea of uncertainty that must be approached with an even head, trust in the JET Program, and a certain amount of go-with-the-flowness.

Despite the daily rigors that will demand your time and attention, there are many options available to you via the web that will allow you to connect with other JETs in your area and beyond.

These options will make it possible for you to share your experiences, frustrations, and light-hearted moments, while at the same time providing you with the ability to pool teaching ideas and resources, learn more about grammar and life in Japan, and perhaps how to take certain cultural difficulties in your stride.

Facebook.  Here you will find a plethora of JET groups.  Typically they are divided up by the prefecture in which you live and work.  Some, however, are more granular and may be grouped by the year you arrived, or even the city in which you work.  Most of these groups are used as slightly more than message boards where people will talk about work or upcoming events, occasionally post photos, or ask questions about grammar.

Facebook Hiroshima Prefecture JET Group

The Wide Island View (WIV) is a webzine that updates on a monthly basis and provides relevant articles to your daily life in Japan.  Here you can find articles about adjusting to a new culture, vacationing, and dealing with stress.  The articles are all written by JETs just like you.  People who have something to share.  The site is run by a small dedicated group of JETs who spend a lot of time to maintain and publish it.  In addition to the articles on WIV there is also a forum, that although not often used today, is monitored daily by the site admins and any questions posted there will be met with a quick response by some of the most experienced JETs among us.

Wide Island View

Wide Island View forum

Google+.  The aim of the newly formed JET Program Community on Google+ is to bring together JET participants from all across Japan regardless of the prefecture they live and work in and regardless of what level of school you teach.  If you find Facebook a clunky and ad-cluttered environment, the Google+ JET community is more about member engagement and functionality.  Within this community there are dedicated posting categories for general discussion, grammar help, travel, events, photos, Q&A about life in Japan, and full lesson plans that you can access along with their corresponding materials.

Being a Google product everything on the community is searchable.  If you want to search for lessons on participles, just type it in and wait for the search results. Need review games? Try a search for “review”.  This community is brand new, but the content is already growing.  As more people join and contribute, the value of this resource will only increase.

Google+ JET Program Community

Regardless of which platform you choose to use, as you adjust to your new life in a seemingly bizarre and unfamiliar country and culture, use those with more experience than yourself to help put thing things in the proper perspective when they don`t seem right.

I wish you all luck in your new positions.

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