Author: Lily Sun

July 2022: Jeffrey Glenn

For July 2022, we welcome Jeffrey Glenn to our roster of wonderful people highlighted for our Alumni Spotlight series. Please read on for Jeffrey’s experience working in Hikone City, Shiga Prefecture, playing the okoto in Hikone Castle, and what he is proud to have accomplished during his time as a GLJETAA officer.

Where are you from in Michigan or Ohio?

I’m from Detroit, Michigan and I have lived there all of my life except for the time spent living in Japan. 

Where was your placement, and how long were you there?

I was placed in Hikone City, Shiga from 1996-1999. I initially signed for one year and enjoyed it so much that I signed for a second and third year. I really wanted to stay longer, but at the time JETs were only allowed to do 3 years. 

What was your school setting like?

I was placed in two junior high schools. One was in Hikone City, Higashi junior high school and the other school was a few stops away in Inae City, Inae junior high school. I mostly taught the 1st year students at both schools, but occasionally taught the 2nd and 3rd year students. I was three days at Higashi and one and half days at Inae. The afternoon of every Friday, I spent at the board of education office in Hikone with the other two JETs. 

What is a memory you have from your time on JET that sticks out to you?

I have so many memories that stick out for me when I was in Shiga. The one I will mention here is when I played a traditional musical instrument, okoto, at Hikone Castle garden. I had asked the Japanese teachers at my schools if they knew of a music teacher who would teach me how to play the okoto. I heard this instrument many times at Japanese events or in anime and I wanted to learn it. The teacher met with me and a few other JETs every week. When we had learned a few songs she asked us to play with her other students in the garden at Hikone Castle. In the below photo, you can see us playing in the tea rooms. We dressed in formal kimonos and played the songs. 

I clearly remember during one song a young child came to the tea house with her family. While I played she said, “gaijin da”, which made me chuckle while I was playing. I was not offended because she was right that two non-Japanese were playing the okoto. It is traditionally played by women, but it is not normal to see a male, foreigner play it. 

What are you doing now, and has the JET Program helped you get there?

Now I work as an elementary teacher at an international school in Tokyo. I live in Yokohama and it’s my 3rd trip to live and work in Japan. I have a teacher’s license from the State of Michigan for elementary and middle school levels. The JET program helped me by giving me the chance to live and work in a country that I have admired since I was a kid. It gave me the chance to see if I would like to be a teacher instructing students. 

Do you have any advice or other support that you can offer to your fellow alumni?

My advice is to follow your dreams even if others question why you want to do it. My family was surprised when I told them I wanted to go and live in Japan for a year. They didn’t understand why I wanted to do this, but I knew it was the right move for me to go. 

How has serving as a GLJETAA officer helped you? (personally or professionally)

I had the chance to be the vice president of the GLJETAA group for two years and the position allowed me to support the president in running the group. It also allowed me to help plan and organize events that would allow JETs to meet and enjoy each other’s company.

What, if anything, are you proud to have accomplished during your time as a GLJETAA officer?

I enjoyed sharing my experiences with the new people selected to go on JET when we did the Q&A information meetings. I also enjoyed interviewing new people at the consulate when I helped them in the selection process. 

What is something in Japan that you’d like to see more of in the U.S.?

I would like to see people in the US who don’t know Japanese culture understand the wonderful qualities that the Japanese people exhibit when non-Japanese come to visit or live in Japan. I met many Japanese people who have become lifelong friends and acquaintances when I lived there. 

Where can we reach you for networking?

I am still a member of the Facebook group for GLJETAA and can be reached through the Messenger app.

Please do reach out if you have any questions for our alumni. Thank you, Jeffrey Glenn, for sharing your own story.

Alumni Spotlight is an outreach activity through the Great Lakes JET Alumni Association seeking to build stronger connections between alumni and to provide bridges for networking. If you or an alumnus you know would like to be featured in an installment of Alumni Spotlight, please email Kyle Belanger at .

December 2021: Adam Wolf

Our guest today is a former Great Lakes JETAA President. Adam has a Master’s of Business Administration, has experience working for the Japanese consulate, and is now working in higher education. Read on to find out more about how Adam’s JET experience influenced his career!



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UPDATED: Link included! Jackbox Game Night!

Time: 8:30 pm
Date: June 26, 2020
Location: Google Meet

Looking for some casual fun on a Friday night? Join us online for some hilarious hijinks while we play a bunch of your favorite Jackbox games!

Games start at 8:30 PM and will continue till everyone is all out of fun. A link to the Google Meet will be provided on the day of the event. Hope to see you there!

Netflix Watch Party!

Date: Thursday Nights
Time: 8:30pm
Location: Netflix

Are you a fan of the Terrace House series? Perhaps you’ve heard of it, but haven’t made time to watch it yourself? Well come one, come all to Terrace House Thursdays! Through the “Netflix Party” chrome browser extension we’ll be hosting watch parties every Thursday, starting at 8:30 eastern. We’ll be watching “Terrace House Boys and Girls in the City”. We’ll plan to watch two episodes each session since they are only about 30 minutes. If we decide to watch a third, we’ll post an update about it so if you miss a session then you can catch up for the next one.

Be sure to download the “Neflix Party” extension at least the day before. There regularly has been issues for people who download it and then immediately tried to join a party.

Please vote for the 2020-2022 Officers!

Election time is here! If you are a registered member of the Great Lakes JETAA Chapter, please fill out the ballot to vote for the 2020-2022 Officers! The voting window is from March 30th to April 5th.

Included in the ballot is also the chapter-wide vote to amend our by-laws which was drafted on June 23, 2019.

Here are the platforms of the people who are running:

Great Lakes JETAA 2020 Election Platforms 

President – Megan Worden 

Members of Great Lakes JETAA, 

Hello, my name is Megan Worden. I was a JET in Toyama from 2013-2015, and currently teach Japanese at Cass Technical High School in Detroit. I’ve had the privilege of being president for this region for the past two years, and I have loved every second of it. 

I am running again because I’m passionate about helping connect our vast JETAA community with the Japanese community at large. Over the last two years we’ve successfully worked with members of the JBSD and the Women’s Club for events, and I want to keep expanding our cross-organization participation. I also want to continue our smaller, member centered events around both states to help keep the JET spirit alive, and have a thriving community ready to welcome those who come home after the JET experience. 

I would be honored to serve as your president for another term, and hope I can count on your vote. 

Yoroshiku onegaishimasu! 

Vice-President (Michigan) – Alicia Smith 

Hello, my name is Alicia Smith, and I am running for GLJETAA Vice-President of Michigan. I have enjoyed being an officer of GLJETAA in various positions (Webmaster, Secretary, Vice-President), and am hoping to continue my volunteer efforts as VP of MI. Some of my contributions this term have included member/community outreach, newsletter design/content production, and researching/posting local events. If I am re-elected, I hope to increase the number of online virtual events and connections across our states (and the world). Thank you for your consideration. 

Vice-President (Ohio) – Jennifer Sherman 

I am your current Great Lakes JETAA Ohio Vice President Jennifer Sherman, and I would love the opportunity to continue serving our community. My JET hometown was Mihama, Mie from 2012 to 2016. For my current full-time job, I write and edit articles related to anime, manga, and game news as Associate Editor at Anime News Network. With northeast Ohio as my home base, I’m thrilled to work with all of you on exciting projects to engage with JET alums in Ohio and Michigan. As GLJETAA’s representative, I participated in JETAA USA’s National Conference in Denver in 2018, gaining valuable tools and making connections to improve our chapter. I want to continue to collaborate with other JET community leaders to develop and host more events throughout Ohio. I look forward to hearing your ideas for the coming year. Thank you for being an active member of our chapter! 

Treasurer – Bill Schlatter 

Hello JET alumni of Michigan and Ohio! My name is Bill Schlatter, and I was on the JET Program from 2012-2014 in Hokkaido. I am running for re-election as Treasurer of Great Lakes JETAA. I’ve been on the job for two years now, so I understand the paperwork and bureaucracy involved in JETAA chapter finances. It’s not fun work, but it needs doing, so vote for me if you want me to keep doing it for another two years! 

Secretary – Kyle Belanger 

My name is Kyle Belanger and I’ll be running for the Secretary position on the Great Lakes JET Alumni Association board. I’ve only recently returned back from my time on the JET Program in Shizuoka where I volunteered in my local AJET chapter as Vice President. Back in Michigan, I wanted to continue to lend a hand in events oriented toward international exchange and keeping the JET community as well connected as it was in Japan. I pride myself on my organizational and interpersonal skills and feel they would be an asset as Secretary. 

Webmaster – Lily Sun 

Hello, my name is Lily Sun. I was a JET ALT from 2015 to 2017 in Ishikawa Prefecture. 

I would be honored to continue to serve the Great Lakes JETAA community in the position of Webmaster. I have three years of experience making websites for myself and other freelance clients with WordPress. I have experience making websites using HTML and CSS. I also have an Associate degree in web design and a BFA in graphic design. 

As a webmaster, I will re-design the website using an award-winning WordPress theme. I will make timely updates to the website, and make it more accessible to members and create a hub of information. I will host and facilitate events as an Officer to support the community. Please vote for me for the Webmaster position. Thank you for your consideration! 

Virtual Happy Hour!

Since we can’t have the in-person networking happy hour we’d planned, we’re moving it to virtual! Grab your favorite drinks and snack, throw on some comfy clothes, and log on in for some good company!

Date: March 20th, 2020
Time: 7-10pm

2020 Shinnenkai

Want to eat your weight in sushi while unwinding with other former JETs for the weekend? Come to the Great Lakes JETAA Shinnenkai! We will be meeting at Fuji Buffet in Madison Heights for AYCE sushi, hot pot, dim sum, udon, pho, crab legs, dessert, and salad… If you want a salad, you can fill up on salad…

Adult dinners are $26.99. Children under ten are $2.10 per year old; children two years and younger are free.

Friends of JETs (FoJs) and family are welcome to attend.

CLAIR has generously offered to subsidize alumni participants. The amount will be based on the number of members attending.

After dinner, you can run amok in 168 Asian Grocery Store or sing karaoke at KTV.

Hope to see you there!

Date: February 8, 2020
Time: 6-8pm
Location: Fuji Japanese Buffet (Google Maps)

Wildlights Columbus

Come enjoy the winter season in central Ohio. Take a pleasant stroll around the Columbus Zoo to view the beautiful twinkling light displays, and animated light shows set to music! Some of the indoor enclosures will have animals on display, as well.

Buy a standard ticket to the zoo, which is $19 for adult general admission for those living outside the county, or $14 for Franklin County residents. Parking is $10.00.

If you want to coordinate meeting up, contact Jennifer Sherman who will be heading this event, as the zoo will be busy.

Date: December 7, 2019
Time: 5pm
Location: Columbus Zoo, 4850 W Powell Rd, Powell, OH 43065

Berkley Board Game Day

Hey, board gamers in Southern Michigan! We are getting together in Berkley at Gate Keeper Games to play some games! There is a variety of games available to suit all ages and interests. Depending on how everyone is feeling, we can also follow up with grabbing dinner afterward!
For those who can’t wait to get to gaming, a JETAA board member will arrive at the venue early to hold a table, so feel free to stop by before 2 (although the venue opens at 1).

You are welcome to bring your own board games, but there are also games available on location to play (separate from the games they are selling), so don’t feel obligated to do so.

*Please be aware that we are reserving tables/chairs based on the number of people who are listed as “going” in this event. If you are a “maybe” you are of course welcome to come, but we cannot guarantee room because we will not be the only group playing at Gate Keepers. Thank you for understanding.

Date: November 17, 2019
Time: 2-6pm
Location: Gate Keepers Games (Map)