I've mentioned my job before, but I'll just give you a quick recap. I'm an Assistant Language Teacher on the JET programme. The biggest issue with this job, from my current point of view, is the time limit. The point of the programme is exchange. The Japanese government means for you to go back home and take your Japan experience with you. So the programme is capped at 5 years.
It's my 5th year.
Since the latter half of my 4th year, I've been thinking about what happens after August, 2013. I live in a small-town, so there's no opportunity for me to work here outside my current job. In an hour's driving radius, there are only 11 other posts for ALTs. And getting one of those would require someone else leaving. In August, when my contract is up. And not in April, when the Japanese school year and most other contracts start.
Lately I've been thinking KISS. Korea - Italy - Sendai - Sapporo. (Sendai and Sapporo are both big cities in the North of Japan.) The problem I may have in Korea is the distinct preference for hiring Americans. But I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA how to go about living in Italy. When that occurred to me, I thought for a second that I should cross it off my list. And then I shrugged and thought: How Happens.
I started the JET programme, not because I'd researched it and thought it was a good fit. Not because I dreamed of going to Japan. Not because I wanted to teach English. (I actually find teaching my native language rather un-challenging. Warped brain of a linguist. Go figure.) I came on this programme because How Happened. I was working as a French and Spanish teacher, when I passed by my university to drop off some paperwork. I stopped by Student Services, since I'd been a Guild of Students' representative and had worked with the staff.
One lady, Louisa, asked me 'What are you up to these days?'
'Teaching,' I responded, 'But I wish someone would pay me to go overseas.'
'Well, we have this thing here from Japan.'
10 seconds that changed my life.
I knew nothing about Japan. No more than the average Westerner. Sushi, sumo, sayonara and Suzuki. But I was in a position to apply. I met the minimum requirements of having a degree and being under 35. I had experience in teaching foreign languages to children. I had learned foreign languages myself. I had lived away from home. I'd been in non-English-speaking countries before. I'd never heard of the JET programme and certainly wasn't preparing myself for it. Yet, I'd put myself in a position to be considered a good candidate.
And I got in.
That's how I'm looking at August. I don't have a clue what will happen. If I'll be able to stay in my area, Japan, Asia, the international scene... or if I'll have to return to Barbados. But right now I'm just concentrating on putting myself in the best position. I'm polishing my Japanese up to the highest level I can. I'm taking an Italian exam. Hopefully I'll get some writing done in between all that as well. I don't really have that much say over how things go. I can only control what I do and who I am. So I'm determined to be the best me I can be.
When How is ready, it'll happen.
(PS, Happy New Year everyone! 2013 for dreams coming true!)
A Hard Day
8 hours ago