one thing I was most curious and anxious about when I applied for the
JET Program was my placement, a.k.a. my new home in Japan. Unlike the
interview and acceptance notices, the placement notifications were unprecedentedly late
(by a whole month). It was great news to know that I was accepted but
then surreal to believe I'd actually moving to Japan in only three
months when I hadn't heard from the consulate in so long.
Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami happened a month before I was informed
that I had been accepted. At first, the fears of my loved ones had been
completely unfounded seeing that I hadn't even been accepted yet.
However, as that terrible situation continued to unfold, news of my
acceptance brought about genuine concern and anxiety. On the application
that I submitted in November, you are allowed to request up to three
places (with no guarantee that you'll be placed in any of them). Not
heeding the advice given to me about the likelihood of receiving a
popular request, I put choices like Kyoto and Hirakata (near Osaka).
These places are familiar to me since I had studied abroad at two
universities in the area, but weakened my chances of actually getting a
suspected, the delay was in fact due to the March 11th events. When the
events happened, CLAIR, one of the JET Program branches, had to drop
everything concerning getting the new applicants established with a
contracting organizations (CO) and instead confirm the safety of their
current JETs. This was, of course, completely understandable but it
created a unique set of circumstances for this year's batch of new JETs.
Being accepted into the program is not the end but more like being
three quarters on your way to moving to Japan. The more time you have
knowing where you're placed allows you to prepare more effectively, get
in contact with your predecessor and schools, mail boxes over, and so
The days of June 13 / 15 / 28, 2011:
odd assortment of dates represent when I finally knew the details of my
placement. On June 13th, I was contacted via an unknown email that
turned out to be my CO. They had a random question about my preferred
living arrangement. This was a very perplexing way to find out my
placement because 1) your CO should not be contacting you before your
consulate does, 2) I had only been told the prefecture I was in, not the
city, and 3) how do I tell them my preferred living arrangement without
outright stating my exact preference of city? The last one I handled
well. I volunteered that there was only one city I had been to in that
prefecture and that I wouldn't mind going back to live in it. This
strategy either went unnoticed or failed in the end. ::le sigh::
So which prefecture? Hyogo! But, but where in Hyogo?! Hyogo is
ginormous! So that city I mentioned? A little place called Kobe. You
might have heard of it as one of the most popular, well-known, cities in
Japan. Kind of exciting right? I practiced restrained excitement, but
already knew I'd be in Kansai, my area of preference and thus was hugely
June 15th, I was contacted via email by my Consulate with the kind of
subject line I had originally anticipated - "JET Placement!" This was
nothing but a huge tease since I was hoping to find out more concrete
information. It turned out I am what is called a Prefectural JET and so
my Consulate only knows my prefecture until my CO contacts me with more
information. Considering I had been asked nearly everyday if I had heard
my placement, I decided to let my family and friends know the
prefecture even if I didn't know the city yet. They were so happy and
relieved as well.
So without much else to go on, I finally started researching my prefecture!
Prefecture is know as 'The Heart of Japan' because it is geographically
the center of the country. When I think about it, Japan has always been
in my heart so I found it fitting that I'd be living in its figurative
heart as well. As I mentioned earlier, prior to learning my placement,
the only time I had been in Hyōgo was to visit the capital city, Kobe. I
loved the ultra-modernness of Kobe even though I was only able to see
the port area. I hadn't tried Kobe beef either so I was excited to go
back and have some ridiculously expensive and delicious meat! Hyōgo is
also known as 'Japan in miniature.' This is because the prefecture is
rich in traditional and contemporary culture, full of natural beauty,
and home to a highly modernized society and business market. Japan as a
whole is often remarked upon for having these contrasting yet appealing
aspects and considering this one prefecture possesses all of these
traits, makes 'Japan in miniature' a fitting description.
was very excited to live here after just reading a few things about
this place. But like I said, Hyōgo is a large prefecture and my eyes
couldn't help but roam towards eastern Hyōgo where I could be more
closely located to my requested cities of Kyoto and Hirakata as well as
other large cities like Kobe, Osaka, and Nara.
on June 28th while away in New York visiting my brother, I was watching
a Project Runway marathon, having a conversation, and checking my email
at the same time (ADD or great multi-tasker? you decide) when I noticed
the email from my CO. Quite matter-of-factly, he wrote that I would be
at Hikami Senior High and gave me a link to the school's website. My
first shock was that I was at a high school. I had requested elementary
but I later guessed the teaching experience listed on my application
better suited me for high school. Next, I rushed to find out where in
all of Hyogo Hikami was, only to find out that recently, Hikami had been
merged with six other towns to form the city of Tamba - in eastern Hyōgo!!
I must admit that this wasn't how I felt at first. I had foolishly
hoped too much for Kobe and had also seen some other towns even closer
to Kyoto and Osaka. In the end I realized I was being ridiculous though
since I definitely could've been on the other side of the prefecture,
way too far from my favorite places to go often at all. The town also
seems a quite rural, something else I hadn't requested, but at least
people have heard of it which was definitely a good sign.
Here's Tamba City in Eastern Hyogo!
As you can see, I am not that far
from the major cities I requested (total city girl here). In fact,
according to Google maps, I'm about 2 hours all these major cities,
making them definite options for weekend trips!
you have it! Though I'm excited and grateful for being placed in Hyōgo,
at the moment I'm more focused on soaking up Miami and making sure I'm
ready for the transition.
The title is a play on Mozart's 'requiem for a dream.' The humor you see, is that my dream is not dead. On the contrary it is alive and well.
I wrote another entry called 'relief'
not too long ago which was the short dramatic story about how I found
out that I had passed the first stage in a very competitive
job-selection process. Well, now I'm here to tell the dramatic tale of
how I landed the job! Yup! I got it!!
interviewed in late February and felt that I had done an exceptional job
after a month of practice and preparation. A wonderful friend of mine
(and former JET participant) helped me and my bf practice with mock
interviews. As for preparations, well, there were many months put into
research, internships, and volunteering to give myself every chance of
proving to them that I was a perfect fit for this program. On the day of
the interview, I did my best and let God do the rest as the saying
goes. I was relaxed, professional, conversational, and intuitive on how
We had been told that the results would be
announced in mid-April. So at work on exactly April 15th, I began to
wonder about my fate. People around would ask me if I was nervous about
or anticipating the results. Honestly though, I barely had time to think
about the results throughout the month of March. I was fully consumed
with finishing strong in my graduate studies and accordingly, planning
graduation celebrations. However, when April 15th did arrive, I started
to stare off in the distance more often, prompting those around me to
ask, "So, when will you know?" My answer, "sooooon."
had every confidence in myself that I was a perfect fit for the JET
Program but as I said in my last post, even the most qualified are not
always accepted. So with that in mind, I applied to second program
called Interac. Although JET was my dream, my determination to live in
Japan knew no bounds. Even with the tragic earthquake of March 11, my
resolve did not waiver, but it did make things more complicated.
Naturally, concerned family members and friends feared for my future
safety but I wasn't about to give up that easily. This dream had been
years in the making after all.
Friday, April 15th,
2011: A quite normal day if you don't count the plans to go on a ghost
tour for a friend's birthday that night. My boyfriend (who was also
awaiting results) and I were arguing one of our pointless arguments when
he noticed a new email on his computer screen.
was placed on the Alternate list which is not a no, but not a yes. A
limbo of sorts unless a position opens up. He got up, laid on his bed,
sighed, and closed his eyes. At the same time, I ran to my computer and
skimmed my email in a nanosecond and saw it, "Congratulations, you have
been selected to be on the short list of candidates.." basically
I'VE BEEN ACCEPTED!
how I imagined this moment to be especially since my boyfriend was
distraught in the next room. So instead of jumping for joy, tears of joy
came down my face.
I found out about the JET program
in high school and always saw it as not only a great experience, but my
ticket to living in Japan, my dream. Here I was eight years later being
told that it was going to happen. It was overwhelming and made me
overcome with how proud of myself I was.
Right now I am
still in the process of conducting background checks, visa
applications, and all the other necessary and timely steps that it takes
to employ someone in another country, but come July 30th, I will be
officially starting the next chapter in my life. I am SO excited!
Ironically this was my fortune from a fortune cookie last night:
Our truest life is when we are in our dreams awake
Until then, I will continue rejoicing for my dream come true.
not in yet, but at least I can say I got this far which is a huge
relief to me. I'm talking about the JET Program application process.
Everyone I know believes I have this in the bag, but I've seen people
just as qualified as I am not make it in. And so, I had the most nerve
wracking experience on Wednesday night as I was out to dinner for my
mom's bday. Next to me, my boyfriend exclaimed, "I got an email from the
consulate... I have an interview!!" Needless to say I grabbed my phone
and forgot to breathe as my mailbox is refreshing.
I didn't get an email.
looks at the screen and back at me in mingled shock and horror while
everyone else around the table is waiting to hear whether or not I have
an interview as well.
Realization setting in, some says, "check the website!" so I did.
website must have been updated in the past 24 hours because I had been
checking every day and had not been presented with this new PDF file
labeled 'Interview Applicants.' This file had hundred of numbers. We
were issued applicant ID numbers for just this occasion, but I had
written mine down on a paper that was currently in a drawer at home...
then my previous stroke of genius came back to me. I had taken a
picture of that paper on my phone as a convenient way to always have it
SUCCESS!! I started breathing again and smiled as a way to silently pass on the good news to those around me.
I wanted to tell all my well-wishers and those who had helped me with
the grueling application. I promptly told all those I had easy access to
the good news and felt very blessed at that moment to have so many
people to tell...
of my mom's friends actually told me not to share the news so openly
because then those who don't wish me well know as well and put that out
into the universe. I was barely able to contain my excitement though so
I've already alluded to it in other ways that might let the haters know,
Inwardly though I was still a bit concerned that I hadn't received an email confirmation of my interview like my boyfriend had....I triple checked every part of the application before I sent it. Could they had entered my email address wrong?
few days later, my fears were settled and question answered. I received
a call from the Consulate to discuss my preferred interview date and
time. Something went wrong with my professional email (not sure on who's
end), but just asked them to use my personal email from then on