The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme’s London Pre-Departure Orientation



This year’s London Pre-Departure Orientation for the 2012 UK JET Programme participants was held on the 12 and 13 July at Brunel University, Uxbridge. The aim of the Pre-Departure Orientation was to give the new JETs some valuable advice to assist them with their preparations for life in Japan on the JET Programme.

For those who may not know much about JET, it is an official Japanese Government scheme, which sends graduates to Japan for a minimum of 12 months. The JET Programme has continued its ongoing efforts to promote international understanding and improve foreign language teaching in schools for over 25 years since its establishment in 1987. JETs from all over the UK were selected to take part in the 2012 UK JET Programme as either Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) or Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs). By the way, I do apologise in advance for the numerous acronyms you will encounter throughout this article, it can get a bit confusing so please bear with me.
The London orientation itself was attended by a variety of organisations, all with strong links to Japan and the JET Programme. These organisations gave presentations on a wide variety of topics, full of useful information for the 142 new JET participants about to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

On the first day of the orientation after registration, JETs received a warm welcome from representatives of the Embassy of Japan and the Consulate General of Japan, Edinburgh. The welcome address was followed by a number of useful presentations. The first of which was given by the Japan Local Government Centre (JLGC) who introduced the participants to the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR), which manages the JET Programme in conjunction with the three Japanese Ministries.

JET orientation 2012 at Brunel University, Uxbridge

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) gave helpful travel advice and safety information for living in Japan. As most of you are aware, unlike the UK Japan often experiences natural disasters including typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis. We therefore felt that it was imperative for our participants to receive the most up to date and relevant advice and safety guidance from the FCO regarding these issues.

Our contracted travel agency also gave the new JETs imperative flight and travel information that would aid them in their preparations for departure to Japan. Other presentations included an introduction to the JET Alumni Association (JETAA), making JETs aware of the vast support system and links that will be in place for when they return to the UK.
There was also a JET workshop given by two former JET participants (including myself). We tried our best to use our knowledge of the programme and our individual experiences (both positive and negative) to give the new JETs valuable first-hand advice. We talked about how they could get the most out of their time in Japan by avoiding the pitfalls, things that we would have wished to known before departing to Japan. I myself spent 3 fantastic years as a JET from 2008-2011 based in Kumamoto prefecture. To this very day I still remember the words of wisdom that were passed down to me and my fellow participants by the JET representatives on the first day of the orientation. This was valuable advice that had stuck with me throughout my time in Japan. Therefore, both my colleague and I endeavoured to make the presentation as interesting and informative as possible, keeping in mind the impact it had upon our once very nervous but excited selves.

Group language sessions for CIRs and ALTs also took place on the first day of the orientation, and continued throughout the second. JETs worked hard in their Japanese language groups to master those all important Japanese self introductions, something they will undoubtedly have to do a countless number of times after arrival. After the orientation, the majority of participants and a number of respected guests attended a fantastic reception at the Embassy of Japan kindly held by His Excellency Ambassador Hayashi and the JLGC.

Although the orientation was only two days long it was extremely intensive consisting of very early starts and late finishes. The participants worked hard from the moment they arrived, and tried their best to absorb all of the information that was given to them. It was really encouraging to see such positive attitudes and a sincere determination from our JET participants.

On the whole, the orientation was a great success with a variety of positive feedback received from both presenters and participants alike. This was primarily due to the hard work of the numerous organisations who came together to give essential advice and information to our JET participants. However, a large part of the success was down to the participants themselves, who we believed worked extremely hard and remained enthusiastic and professional throughout the orientation, an attitude that will no doubt get them very far as JETs in Japan.

I remember the time I attended the 2008 PDO before JET-ting off to Japan, and it was a really interesting experience to see things from the other side.  On behalf of the JET Desk, we would like to say that we are very pleased with the new JETs we are sending off to Japan, and we sincerely hope they will all go on to be exemplary JET Programme participants.

We would like to wish all of them the very best in their efforts to further English education in Japan and to promote international understanding at grassroots levels. 󡢴ĥäƤ!

Jonathan Lapinskas
UK JET Programme Assistant

If you believe you have what it takes to become a JET Programme participant, then please visit our website here: www.jet-uk.org  for further details about JET and its application procedure.