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JET Fellow Aims to Create Cultural Understanding

JET Fellow Aims to Create Cultural Understanding

USD history major Bethany Harris '20 is hoping that COVID-19 won’t impact her plans to teach in Japan this fall. Harris is the recipient of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program fellowship and will begin working as an assistant language teacher in September. "One of my main passions in life is learning about other cultures and meeting new people. I believe the JET fellowship will allow me to fulfill these passions." She adds, "All I can do now is continue to have a positive attitude and remember this situation will not last forever."

The JET Program is an employment opportunity that allows young professionals to live and work in Japan. It is also an opportunity to represent the United States as a "cultural ambassador." Only about 1,000 out of 4,000 to 5,000 applicants are selected each year.

Read what Harris has to say about receiving the JET fellowship and hear some of her tips for staying positive during the pandemic.

 

1. Why did you apply for the JET fellowship? 

The JET fellowship is a program in Japan where I will work as an assistant language teacher (ALT) at different schools throughout an assigned city. One of my main passions in life is learning about other cultures and meeting new people. I believe the JET fellowship will allow me to fulfill these passions. I have previously studied abroad in Japan and done a summer internship. Both of those experiences opened up different paths of growth for me, and as I grew to love Japanese culture and appreciate the language, I felt compelled to dive deeper. By being an ALT, I hope to teach American culture to my students and help inspire a want for continued cultural exchange in the future.  

2. What are you looking forward to the most? 

Aside from my excitement to start my first teaching job, I have to say, as a history major, that the rich history of Japan and the opportunity to view sites that could be thousands of years old is very exciting. 

3. How has COVID-19 impacted your plans? 

So far, COVID-19 has not impacted my plans to go to Japan. According to the consulate, there have been no plans to cancel the JET Program and things are supposed to happen according to schedule, which will have me departing in September. However, as we know, this situation continues to change and develop and anything can happen between now and when I am slated to leave. All I can do now is continue to have a positive attitude and remember that this situation will not last forever.

4. What are your postgraduate/career aspirations?

I hope to attain fluency in the Japanese language before continuing on to a post-graduate program in history. I then hope to continue researching about Japan and doing writing and translating in order to better create understanding between Japanese and American cultures. 

5. What advice do you have for other graduating seniors who are finishing their final semesters remotely? 

I think it is best to just look at this as another opportunity. Life is always going to be throwing us curveballs, and sometimes you cannot prepare for them. How we overcome this situation is only going to make us stronger. I think that dealing with this is an opportunity to discover new interests and take the time to really get to know yourself. In this crazy busy world we have been living in, we haven’t had the opportunity to just stay home and self-reflect. This is the time to take up new hobbies, start writing that book you’ve always been putting off, start learning that language you’ve been interested in, or even start that YouTube channel you’ve always wanted to create. I know this isn’t an ideal situation, but it won’t last forever and the strength that we gain from this situation will only help us with adversity down the road.

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