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JET offers UNG students opportunity to live and work in Japan

JET program
Bryan Sagliano, Emily Peach, and Tomoko Ohyama of the Consulate General of Japan in Atlanta, were promoting the Japan Exchange & Teaching Program at the UNG Dahlonega Campus on Oct. 24.

A passion for teaching can begin with the smallest of things — a love of sushi, for example.

That's the pitch Bryan Sagliano, culture and information affairs officer for the Consulate-General of Japan in Atlanta, made to a group of 40 students Oct. 24 at the Hoag Student Center on the University of North Georgia (UNG) Dahlonega Campus.

Sagliano, an American citizen who was born and raised in Japan, was on campus to promote the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET) with Consul Tomoko Ohyama and Emily Peach, a former JET student participant.

"JET offers what can be a life-changing experience," Sagliano said. "If you have a passion for Japanese culture and want to share American culture with others, JET is for you."

Since its beginning in 1987, JET has placed more than 60,000 participants from more than 40 countries to live and work in Japan. The program offers two primary opportunities to work in Japan — as an assistant language teacher (ALT) or a coordinator for international relations (CIR).

To be eligible for the program, applicants need to be U.S. citizens with excellent verbal and written
English language skills, be in good physical and mental health and have a bachelor's degree in any major before departure to Japan in July 2018.

ALTs work in Japanese public schools supporting Japanese teachers of English. In addition to using their native English ability to improve students' English fluency, ALTs serve as cultural ambassadors in the local communities. Their duties include preparing lesson plans and teaching materials, carrying out classroom activities, providing language training for teachers, leading English clubs and summer camps, and participating in events in school and the community.

JET participants sign a one-year contract, with the option of renewing for up to five years. Benefits include paid airfare to and from Japan, orientations before and after arrival, enrollment in Japan's national health insurance, minimum of 10 days paid vacation and an annual starting salary of 3.36 million yen (about $30,000 USD).

"It was an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Peach, a Kennesaw State University graduate who taught language skills in a small town outside Nagasaki as a JET participant from 2013-16. "The people in the small towns and villages rarely interact with foreigners, and they were fascinated with me and my family. I think I learned as much from them as the students learned from me."

While working as an ALT requires little to no Japanese language skills, CIRs must have a high proficiency in reading and speaking the language. They work primarily in local government offices promoting international relations at the local level. A CIRs responsibilities include creating, editing and translating official documents; acting as an interpreter; planning and carrying out international exchange programs; and assisting with language instruction in the community.

Ohyama said the Japanese language courses offered at UNG has stirred interest in the JET program.

"JET has received a very positive response at UNG," Ohyama said. "We tell them it is a wonderful opportunity to live and work in Japan, particularly if they have never been overseas before. You live and work as a member of the community."

Sagliano said being active in the local community is a vital component of the program. Participants serve as ambassadors for their country as they travel, do volunteer work and attend social events.

"JET strongly encourages everyone who participates in the program to become deeply involved in the community where they serve," Sagliano said. "It helps to have a sense of humor, to be able to laugh at yourself, have a positive attitude, be very adaptable, and most of all, be patient."

One of the UNG students in attendance, Deidra Ricketts of Kennesaw, Georgia, said she cannot wait to apply.

"I've done some research on the country, I've taken two years of Japanese and I'm a teaching aide in the language lab," said Ricketts, a 22-year-old studio arts major. "This presentation gave us the 'nitty-gritty' on the smaller details, on what the living conditions are like, the food, local customs, and taxes."

Ricketts, who plans to graduate in December, said by the end of the presentation she was "100 percent sure" she would join the JET program.

"I'll get there somehow," she said.

To learn more about the program, visit The   application deadline is Nov. 9, 2017.

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