2006 Foreign Minister's Commendation - Heidi Potter

On 22 November 2006, the 20th Anniversary Commemorative Ceremony of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme was held in Tokyo. At the ceremony Ms Heidi Potter was among the six recipients selected from around the world of the Japanese Foreign Minister's Commendation, awarded in recognition of their special contribution to the development of the scheme over the past two decades.

Ms Potter, a participant in the 1980s of the British English Teaching Programme, the precursor to the JET Programme, has devoted herself to fostering Japan-UK exchange for nearly two decades. Firstly, as a staff member of the Embassy's Japan Information and Cultural Centre, she was instrumental in the success of the Japan Festival in 1991. She later became one of the founding members of Japan21 as executive director in charge of the Education Programme. In this role she worked tirelessly to foster understanding of Japan in British classrooms, by organizing workshops for children as well as for teachers, organizing exchange initiatives between Japanese and British schoolchildren and promoting the Japanese language programme in close cooperation with the Japan Foundation and the Embassy of Japan.

On receiving the award, Ms Potter commented: "It was a great honour to receive this unexpected award on the 20th anniversary of the JET Programme. Without question, my time spent living in a rural community of Japan and teaching in local schools set the course of my life and ongoing involvement with Japan. In the 20 years of the JET Programme, some 46,000 people from 44 countries have had a similar experience. We have gained immensely from this and, I hope, have been able to contribute to Japanese society in our roles as teachers, sports exchange advisors and international relations coordinators as well as through our individual friendships. It is a privilege now to be working with British teachers and schools keen to give their pupils the opportunity to encounter Japan."  

*Photograph: Ms Heidi Potter (front right) and other recipients with Mr Tadamichi Yamamoto, Director General of Public Policy Department, MOFA
Embassy of Japan