Our guest today has a Master’s of Public Health and recently returned from her time on JET, where she taught in a super science high school. Read on to hear her memories of festivals and the capstone project she completed in Japan.
Where are you from in Michigan or Ohio?
I currently live in Lansing, Michigan.
Where was your placement, and how long were you there?
Otsu, Shiga-ken, 2017-2021.
What was your school setting like?
I primarily worked at Zeze High School, which was the number one high school in Shiga Prefecture and also a super science school. I enjoyed overseeing several science lessons and science projects. I was also in charge of helping prepare for the science fairs and the annual trip to Cambridge. In addition to teaching at Zeze I also had three visit schools out in the countryside: Kosei high school, Ritto High School and Ishibe High School. Ritto was famous for its arts and wrestling programs and Ishibe had a fabulous farming program.
What is a memory you have in Japan that sticks out to you?
Hmm… There are so many memories it’s hard to choose just one!!! One that I particularly remember is that during one of the first weeks after I had just arrived we had a three-day weekend and some of my JET senpais took me down to Osaka for a festival. We really had no idea what was going on but we just walked around to explore. As we were walking around the locals were so friendly.
I remember we asked one family where we could go to get some food and a drink to watch the festival and they literally welcomed us in, brought our group chairs, and had us join them for the festival. We had a great day hanging out practicing Japanese and English, sharing endless local foods and drinks, and watching the different shrine/floats come by.
Later at night the head of the festival came and met us and we shared a meal and then he asked if we wanted to join the festival. He rerouted the parade and had one of the floats pick us up and we carried the beautiful float adorned with lanterns around the streets all night. It was an amazing experience I will never forget.
What are you doing now that you have returned?
I recently returned from Japan, so I am still in a transitional phase and am actively seeking a new job. However, while I was in Japan I earned my Master’s of Public Health, and the current JETs and local AJET there helped me finish my capstone project. I designed and implemented a health needs assessment of current ALTs’ mental, physical, and emotional health while living abroad (and during the pandemic) and proposed a program to help improve the resources available to them. a
In addition to that, I also currently sit on the DeWitt Michigan-Shiga Goodwill Mission Board with the goal to encourage and strengthen the bonds between Japan and Michigan.
Do you have any future plans you’re working towards?
Since I only recently returned from Japan, my current goal is to find my new dream job and start my career. But once I find my new position, my goal will be to eventually buy a house and go back to school to get my doctorate.
Is there something Japan-related you wish you could get involved within your area?
I hope to get more involved in alumni events and meet more of the wonderful JET alums and start building some connections in the area. I was also learning Kendo and Taiko while in Japan so I’d love to find a group to join here in Michigan.
What advice or help would you like to give to other GLJETAA alumni?
For those that live in Michigan and want to either return to Japan or are willing to host, please consider joining the Michigan-Shiga goodwill mission.
What konbini food do you miss the most?
I miss the hot lemon teas and the company of the Konbini employees. My local Konbini staff always knew what I needed sometimes even before I knew I needed it.
Where can we reach you for networking?
Kily Buta, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please do reach out if you have any questions for our alumni. Thank you, Kily Buta, for sharing your 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 email@example.com.