One very helpful service provided by the JET alumni is their ability to talk about Japan with people in their home countries, whether about the society and culture, food, places to visit, or current events. Whether through their chapters or on their own, we always find that the alumni are enthusiastic to talk about any number of topics, and to get out and support Japan-related events, trade and tourism promotions, or visits by delegations from Japanese local governments.
In one of the latest examples of this, Casey Marie Mochel, who was an ALT in Takarazuka City from 2005 to 2008 and is currently a Country Representative for JETAA USA, was asked by JTB USA to speak at the Seattle Golf + Travel Show on March 1st, to introduce “the simplicity and joy of travel” around Japan. Ms. Mochel told attendees about how easy it is for English speakers to travel around Japan, based on her experiences during her time there. Reportedly only knowing three words (“ichi, ni, san”) when she arrived in Japan, she nonetheless travelled all over the country, from Okinawa to Hokkaido.
Asked by someone listening to her speak if she was the “Japan expert”, she explained that she is simply a regular Seattleite who had been given a wonderful opportunity, thanks to the JET Program, to learn about Japan. That kind of perspective, passionate and knowledgeable about Japan but understanding how it feels to find yourself in a new country where you don’t know the language or how to get around, seems to have been just the right mix for promoting Japan as a destination.
It’s nice to see the alumni increasingly recognized as a fresh and knowledgeable voice on Japan. Casey, for her part, loved doing the event and having the chance to tell people about the country that has given her so much. We hope she has the opportunity again next year.
Casey and Habatan, Hyogo Prefecture’s mascot