Coordinator for International Relations (CIR) Testimonials
■ Job Type: CIR ■ Prefecture: Hokkaido ■ Years on Programme: 2021–Present
Unlike most JET applicants, I was one of the rare few that applied to the JET Programme as a domestic applicant since I was already residing in Japan. I graduated from a Japanese University with a Bachelor’s degree and wanted to stay in Hokkaido but not join a typical Japanese company, so the programme was exactly what I was looking for. As one would expect, experiences living in Japan as a University student is very different from working at the city hall as a civil servant. While living here as a student, I could represent myself as an individual, but as a civil servant I am representing the city and could be subjected to feedback from residents. Using JET as a platform, I am able to introduce to the people of Takikawa cultures from Singapore through panel exhibitions and cooking classes. Being able to work in an international environment also open doors to more communication and interaction with people, and I’m always excited to learn not only about Japanese culture, but Hokkaido culture since Japan is huge for me coming from a small island nation.
Participating in the JET Programme is one of the best things I’ve ever done as it allows me to promote Japan in my home country and vice-versa. For anyone thinking about joining JET and is still on the fence, just take the leap of faith and step out of your comfort zone! There’s really all to gain and nothing to lose!
■ Job Type: CIR ■ Prefecture: Toyama ■ Years on Programme: 2021–Present
Moving to a prefecture I knew nothing about to start my first job in the middle of COVID-19 was definitely a risk, but it was one that really paid off! In just a single year, I’ve been able to learn so much about Toyama that I find myself talking it up to almost anyone, and genuinely feel like it’s my home. My placement has been a true diamond in the rough, and I want more and more people to know about it.
Even with cultural exchange being limited by the pandemic, I was still able to discover my strengths as a CIR, particularly in PR and interpretation. JET has allowed me to feel at home in a completely new location, be a part of a diverse and welcoming community, and challenge myself to bring my language skills and perspective to a job filled with as many valleys and peaks as Toyama’s famous Tateyama Mountain Range!
■ Job Type: CIR ■ Prefecture: Kumamoto ■ Years on Programme: 2021–Present
Prior to JET, I have only been in Japan on a 5-day trip in Tokyo and Yokohama. Having been born and raised in Jakarta and Singapore, my first year in Japan countryside has been full of new experiences and fond memories. While we still have to deal with various coronavirus measures, people I met at work, outside work, at events, izakaya, on trips, have been very warm. I rarely feel lonely, and being surrounded by nature is a refreshing experience. Whatever time of the year it is, there is always something going on: a taiko performance, tea ceremony, fireworks, traditional dance, shrine festivals.
Being a CIR has given me the opportunity to work in the cultural sector for the first time, one that I had always aspired to. While I have previously worked at a Japanese company in Singapore and had to use Japanese for work, working at a municipal office in Japan is a totally different ball game. At times, days can pass without me speaking any English. It takes some time to get used to how things are done, and yet I am still discovering something new every day! JET has been an unbelievable learning adventure so far, and as I begin my second year in Japan, I could not help but look forward to more to come.
■ Job Type: ALT & CIR ■ Prefecture: Yamaguchi ■ Years on Programme: 2019–Present
I first heard of the JET Programme when I was in high school, and I knew it was something I wanted to do. Then while I was interning for the Japan America Society of Minnesota in college, the program was recommended to me, and I started to look into the requirements. I majored in Japanese, but because I wanted to work with children, I decided to become an ALT.
I was placed in Yamaguchi Prefecture and I worked as an Elementary School ALT for three years. It was so rewarding to be some students’ first exposure to a foreign culture, and to teach them about my native language. But our interactions didn’t stop in the classroom. I played with them during recess, ate with them during lunch, and even joined in the brass band as a special guest at the end-of-the year concert. It was an incredible experience; I learned so much, not just about Japan, but about America, and about myself.
After a couple years, I started to think about my life after JET. I wanted experience in translation and interpretation, but didn’t want to leave the JET Programme or the prefecture that I’d come to know and love. I decided to request a transfer to the CIR position at the Yamaguchi Prefectural Office, which was accepted. Now I’m taking on new challenges, such as interpreting for the governor, translating tourism documents, and teaching people all around the prefecture about myself and my country.
The JET Programme has been an influential part of my life, and I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate in it.
■ Job Type: CIR ■ Prefecture: Hokkaido ■ Years on Programme: 2011–2013
When I was a graduate student majoring in Japanese studies in a southern province of China, my best and practically only choice for career was entering a foreign-invested enterprise. Not that working for big companies is not “fun”, but I have always wondered, could it be more? The JET Programme answered my question.
I have been given the opportunity to come to Niseko Town, Hokkaido Prefecture as a CIR. It is a beautiful town surrounded by mountains and widely known for its world-class ski resorts. I am from a town in the south of China where summers are quite long. The winter lasts six months in Niseko Town, but for me, it feels like a wonderland. Living on my own in a foreign country, I feel lonely from time to time, but my friends and colleagues fill my life with warmth and laughter. Honestly, I have never thought that I could make some truly good friends in my adulthood, especially with people who came from so many different backgrounds and cultures. I work with people from Japan, Australia, America, Korea and Canada, and, together, we share our thoughts regarding cultures, countries, politics, history and even pop music and movies.
The CIR experience has sharpened my language skills and enriched my knowledge. I can see how cultures conflict and merge with each other, and it also allows me to put myself in other people’s positions and see things from their angles. The JET Programme showed me an effective way of international communication. Being a CIR will always be a valuable life experience for me.
■ Job Type: CIR ■ Prefecture: Shizuoka ■ Years on Programme: 2008–2013
“You were accepted to the JET Programme, for Iwata City, Shizuoka Prefecture” said the e-mail sent by the Consulate General of Japan in Curitiba, Brazil, on 19 February, 2008. It is no exaggeration to say that at that time I felt I had won the lottery. I had been given the chance to be part of such a far-reaching exchange programme, and my life on the JET Programme has been one of the most, if not the most, fulfilling experiences ever.
Iwata City is located in the west of Shizuoka Prefecture and is known for being the hometown of Jubilo Iwata – a Japanese league soccer team – and the headquarters of Yamaha Motors. It has a population of about 173,000 people, including about 4,000 Brazilians.
This is my fifth and final year as a CIR. My main duties involve not only translation and interpretation, but also activities for the promotion of local internationalisation by doing presentations about Brazil and its culture at elementary and junior high schools, neighbourhood associations, elderly clubs, etc. There is not a single day I do not learn something new, and even better, I get to meet new people during each visit.
Hearing comments like, “thank you,” and “I enjoyed learning about Brazil,” I feel how rewarding it is to work as a CIR, especially because I get to speak about Brazil not only to Japanese people, but also to young Brazilians who were born in Japan and still do not know much about their parents’ country.
For these and many other reasons, the JET Programme has without a doubt changed my life and the way I see things, in addition to giving me the opportunities to improve my language skills, learn about Japanese culture, and visit different and amazing places.
It will be something I will cherish forever and for that I am eternally grateful to the JET Programme and also to the people of Iwata City.
■ Job Type: CIR ■ Prefecture: Miyazaki ■ Years on Programme: 2005–2008
Being a fresh graduate, I was a bit uneasy about my first job. After almost a year on JET, I can only say that I am grateful for what I have chosen for myself. JET is exactly what I expected: lots of fun and excitement, yet extremely challenging. At work, everyday is full of learning. Teaching children English and introducing New Zealand to local residents, now I feel comfortable even speaking in front of a huge crowd.
The children are extremely outgoing and friendly. Whenever I show up at schools, they run to greet me, clinging to me like koalas to eucalyptus trees. Sometimes I really feel that I am a superstar. Their smiles and energy get me excited for work every day. Privately, I have made a lot of friends from all over the world. Loving to travel, soon I will be able to conquer all of Kyushu.
■ Job Type: CIR ■ Prefecture: Mie ■ Years on Programme: 2004–2007
This is my 3rd year on the JET Programme as a CIR. I initially planned to leave after my second year contract ended, but decided to stay. I think the best thing about the JET Programme is being able to be part of internationalisation process and changing people’s perspectives toward many things. Other than teaching in the community centre, I organize cooking classes and cross-cultural events, plan overseas trips – actually taking people back to my home country (to differentiate from tour packages organized by travel agencies) – and more.
Globalisation is more than being able to communicate in foreign languages and this is something I have been trying to instill through my work. Being able to understand and accept differences is so much more important than anything else. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to participate on the JET Programme. This cultural exchange will become invaluable as we reach the age of true internationalisation and I would strongly recommend the Programme to anyone who is willing to broaden their horizon.