Year in Review

Thank you for a great 2020!

We wish you and your loved ones a wonderful end to the year.

Now, let's take a look at how we helped you and the JET community this year.

In 2020 we were able to....
  • Award 22 microgrants for JETs in Japan, increasing English language learning and awareness of American culture
  • Co-host the Transitions virtual career event over 7 days with 150 registrants, 9 speakers, 9 mentors, 5 universities, and 10 career counseling sessions for new returnees, leading to at least one alumni securing a job (that we know of)
  • Provide 35 JET alumni with career counseling sessions
  • Fund 3 chapter programs through the Sasakawa USA chapter grant program
  • Provide 54 JET alumni with a professional resume review workshop
  • Publish 10 Japan Matter for America articles
  • Hold 9 professional development webinars and 4 chapter leader webinars
  • Introduce virtual networking sessions to connect JET alumni with one another
  • Co-host the first ever virtual JETAA National Conference
  • Launch the Tayō-sei Program supporting interest in Japan for Black and Latinx students in the south
  • Launch the JETs on Japan Forum for alumni to feature JET alumni perspectives on U.S.-Japan relations
  • Continue our work in the midst of a global pandemic!
See you again in 2021!
Thank you to all our friends who supported USJETAA for #GivingTuesday on December 1st. Your contributions will go to supporting our programs that serve the next generation of U.S.-Japan leaders. From professional development to English-language learning in Japan to bringing quality Japan programs to regions across the United States, your dollars will help us facilitate this work and engage the JET alumni network. Learn more about our programs at
Holiday Office Closure: USJETAA's virtual offices will be closed from December 21, 2020 to January 1, 2021. Our physical office is still closed due to COVID until further notice. We will respond to emails upon our return. Happy holidays!

JETAA National Conference Recap

On Sunday, December 6th, we concluded the sixth and final day of the first ever virtual JETAA National Conference. Typically, the conference is hosted by one of the JETAA chapters in a different city each year and brings together 2 delegates from each of the 19 JETAA chapters in the U.S., along with the 3 U.S. Country Representatives of JETAA USA, the three elected volunteers who represent the JETAAs on the international and the Canadian Country Rep. The conference is a time for the chapter leaders to share ideas, learn, and collaborate together. Like everything else, COVID put a damper on those plans and the conference moved to an online format across 6 days. The silver lining is that a virtual format means that more than just two official delegates were able to join the conference and we were able to record the sessions to share with those who couldn't make it. The conference was organized by the JETAA USA Country Reps - Faye Valtadoros, Daniel Lowe, and Adam Ledyard - with support from USJETAA and CLAIR. The Sasakawa Peace Foundation sponsored the keynote speaker, Karen Kelley, former Consul General of Japan in Osaka and now Special Advisor for Recruitment, Retention, Diversity and Inclusion, Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs. We also had remarks from CLAIR Executive Director Mayumi Shimotori and Mr. Masashi Mizobuchi, Minister-Counsellor for Public Affairs and Director of the Japan Information and Culture Center at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C. The theme of the conference was cross-chapter collaboration and cross-chapter groups presented on a variety of topics, including virtual activities, project management, virtual career development, developing leadership teams, tech tips and utilizing tech effectively for collaboration, and much more great stuff. Thank you to everyone for your hard work and a very successful conference. You can check out the full conference agenda here.

Article: Musical Connections Between New Orleans and Japan Make a Wonderful World

By William Archambeault (Miyagi, 2017-2018)
Photo credit: Airily Arts

On a fateful night in 1964, Yoshio Toyama met his idol Louis Armstrong. Toyama, a young trumpeter, snuck backstage following Armstrong’s concert in Kyoto for a brief but significant encounter. He convinced Armstrong to let him blow the New Orleans jazz icon’s trumpet. Armstrong spent his life as a globetrotting musical diplomat; Toyama soon followed in his footsteps. Read more.

This article is part of a guest-contributor partnership between the East-West Center in Washington and the United States Japan Exchange & Teaching Programme Alumni Association (USJETAA) in which former JET participants contribute articles relating to their experiences in Japan.

Webinar: Making Your Own Luck after JET

Join our speakers and USJETAA for a discussion on how you can be proactive after JET in finding your next big opportunity. Our speaker will share their own journeys after JET and how they have utilize the JET alumni community to kickstart their careers. This webinar will shares ways to start connecting and getting involved in the JET alumni community. Each speakers is at a different stage in their post-JET journey and has a lot of great insight to offer! Speakers: Kristy Ishii, Mya Fisher, Steven Horowitz

Please register in advance for this meeting:

Full Webinar Details and Bios here:

Article: Promoting Cross-Cultural Learning in Michigan

By Anne M. Hooghart (Shiga, 1989-1990)

In a case of what the Japanese might call ishin denshin (heart-to-heart telepathy), Kasia Lynch and I had the same idea at almost the same time: we should make presentations at schools throughout Michigan to promote the study of Japanese language and culture. Our sub-agendas were different, but complementary. Read more.

This article is part of a guest-contributor partnership between the East-West Center in Washington and the United States Japan Exchange & Teaching Programme Alumni Association (USJETAA) in which former JET participants contribute articles relating to their experiences in Japan.

JETs on Japan Forum - Submissions Open

We are accepting submissions for the JETs on Japan Forum. This new partnership between USJETAA and Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA (Sasakawa USA) will feature selected articles of JET alumni perspectives on U.S.-Japan relations and provides a platform for JET alumni to contribute to deeper understanding of U.S.-Japan relations from their fields.

Authors will receive an honorarium of between $250 and $500 (depending on word length, amount of research, etc.) from USJETAA upon the article’s publication. Submissions are encouraged from mid-to-senior level professionals who are established in the current fields OR current/recent graduate degree students in both masters and doctoral programs. Submissions should provide in-depth commentary or analysis from the JET alumni perspective of political, economic, or diplomatic ties between the United States and Japan. It should highlight the positive impacts of U.S.-Japan relations on both U.S. and Japanese communities.

More info at

Meet the Tayo-Sei Class of 2020

U.S. Japan Exchange and Teaching Program Alumni Association (USJETAA) and the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program Alumni Association Southeast (JETAASE) congratulates the 2020 participants of the Tayō-Sei (多様性) Japanese Language and Cultural Exchange Program.

Tayō-sei is a virtual Japanese language and culture seminar series for Black and LatinX college students at schools across the four states served by the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program Alumni Association Southeast (JETAASE): Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

JET Natsukashii Stories

Ella McCann (Chiba, 2012-2014) shares memories of her life in the countryside of Japan. Ella lives in Chicago and is an International Program Manager at Chicago Sister Cities International. Check out her story and photos here!
Jessica Kennett Cork (Hiroshima, 1997-2000) was a Coordinator for International Relations. She now lives in Georgia and is Vice President of Community Engagement and Corporate Communications for YKK Corporation of America. Read her natsukashii story!
More Natsukashii Stories on our Instagram!
Want to share your story? Email us at

JET Alumni Highlights

Congratulations to JET alumna, Elena Kamenetzky (Aichi, 2006-2009) for winning the United States National Language Teacher of the Year award! She is currently a Japanese teacher at Eastern High School in Louisville, KY. Read more about Elena’s accomplishment here.

Bridget Thomas (Yamaguchi, 1994-1997) wrote The Tumbleweed Christmas Tree, illustrated by Jessie Baca. The Tumbleweed Christmas Tree is based on a true story and is available for purchase in both paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon.

Greg Beck (Hiroshima, 2006-2011) makes a case for why U.S. restaurants should sell Japanese craft beer during COVID times in his article Ji-Beer Profits in the time of COVID-19.

Austin Gilkeson (Nagasaki, 2004-2006) wrote an article, "The Half-Real World of Ghost of Tsushima," about the new video game. He says, "The game is hauntingly beautiful, but it reshapes history and geography." Read the article.

M.T. White, Hiroshima-ken (2003-2005) published their first novel CONTENT. Combining provocation with apocalyptic vision, CONTENT presents a world on the brink of chaos as the forces of governments, technology, social media, ideology and religious cults vie for power and control of the masses. More information.

Have something you think we should share? Email us at Not all submitted ideas will be shared.

December Chapter Events

For December chapter events, check out this blog post for a round up of activities you can join. Is an event missing? Let us know via email at or add it to our website from the events tab when logged in to your account.

Job Postings

Have a job we should include? Email us at

Scholarship News

Announcement: American University School of Education

New scholarship with the American University School of Education! JET alumni are eligible for a scholarship of at least twenty-nine percent (29%) of the standard three-credit graduate on-campus/online tuition rate for the following degree programs:
  • Doctorate in Education (EdD) in Education Policy and Leadership
  • Graduate Certificate in Administration, Supervision, and Leadership (ASL)
  • MA in International Training and Education Program (on-campus)
  • Master of Education (MEd) in Education Policy and Leadership (Policy Studies and Teacher Leadership tracks)
  • Master of Arts (MA) in Special Education: Learning Disabilities
  • Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education
The ink is still drying on this agreement, but specifics will be available soon at

Announcement: Middlebury Language Schools Masters of Arts in Japanese

Middlebury Language Schools now offers a Master of Arts in Japanese. JET Program alumni are eligible to receive up to $22,745 need-based financial aid to attend the Master of Arts in Japanese which includes two 6-week summers in Middlebury, Vermont and two 15-week semesters online. They are holding a webinar on January 21 at 12:00 pm to give students information on the new Middlebury MA in Japanese. Registration and more information is here.

Other Scholarships for JET Alumni

More scholarship info on our resources page.

Thank You to Our Volunteers!

We'd like to give a big shout out to Amelia Hagen (Fukuoka, 2008-2013) for her help adding jobs to our Job Board. Thank you so much!

Thank you as well to Alejandro Guzman Bolivar (Yamanashi, 2017-2020), who has just joined us as a volunteer helping us create a mentorship program for 2021!

Other Updates & Events

Webinar: Social Enterprise/Grassroots Nonprofits in Japan
December 9, 2020 at 7 PM Eastern Time
Details in the link:
The US-Japan Bridging Foundation's Bridging Scholars/TeamUp Webinar series wraps up with the webinar "Social Enterprise/Grassroots Nonprofits in Japan."  Learn about two very effective yet different not-for-profit enterprises in Japan: Perspective, focused on preserving and celebrating traditional Japanese crafts and the natural materials from which they are made, and the Ashinaga Foundation and its Africa Initiative, focused on education and cultivating the next generation of leaders in sub-Saharan Africa. Find out how the Japanese non-profit sector is creating both local and global impact, how you can get involved, and meet two of the change-makers influencing the future.

  • Jennifer Butler, Manager, Ashinaga Africa Initiative, Ashinaga Foundation (& JET alumna!)
  • Sachiko Matsuyama, Co-Founder, Perspective
  • Amy DeLouise, Producer and Moderator

Thursday, December 10th at 8pm EST

Join via YouTube Live:

Join JET alumna and LinkedIn guru Kamara Toffolo (Gunma, 2007-2008) for a webinar on personal branding:

How much do you think about and work on your personal brand in your career and job search? Is it something you’re actively working on or is it an afterthought? Also, how are you using social media to get ahead? While the term “social” brings images of pre-pandemic travel pics and snaps of epic meals to mind, social media is a critical tool that will help you achieve career and job search success. I’m excited to have the opportunity to interview Cher Jones, Corporate Social Media Trainer, Personal Branding Coach, and host of the Just Ask Cher Tuesday live show! Cher and I have been connected for some time, and we initially met at the Discover Your Personal Brand conference in Toronto!

On Thursday, December 10th at 8pm EST, I’ll be interviewing Cher and asking for her expert advice and insights with questions like: 💡 Why is personal branding so important for our career success and growth?
💡 What are the top 3 things we should be considering in order to have a polished personal brand?
💡 Let’s talk content: how can we create content that will support our personal brand?
💡 Let’s talk about content “fluff”: what it is, why it’s bad, and what to do instead?
💡 Short form videos are all the rage right now: Tik Tok, YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels: how can we use these while keeping our personal brand, professional?

We’ll also be taking your questions as usual!
Cornerstone of Stability: U.S.-Japan relations in the Asia Pacific
Friday, December 11 
12:00 noon – 1:00 PM EST


Webinar is moderated by JET alumnus Benjamin Self.

On December 11 at noon Eastern, the Mansfield Foundation will host Dr. Noriyuki Katagiri (Saint Louis University) and Dr. Kristin Vekasi (University of Maine) for an event highlighting the role the U.S.-Japan alliance plays in maintaining stability in the Asia Pacific Region.

Ambassador Mike Mansfield often noted that the U.S.-Japan relationship was the most important bilateral relationship in the world—bar none. Our speakers will attest to how close security ties and economic bonds between the two countries have continued to form the foundation of a stable and prosperous region as we enter a new decade.

Dr. Katagiri will examine the role of the U.S.-Japan security alliance in maintaining regional peace, while Dr. Vekasi will provide a look at how trade and political economy figure into the calculations of the two allies.

This event is generously supported by the Embassy of Japan in the United States of America.

Japanese Americans & Japan: Legacies – Interview with Atsuko Fish
December 15, 2020 
Time: 3:00pm ET
RegistrationClick here

The "Japanese Americans & Japan: Legacies" video series highlights the careers and life journeys of prominent Japanese American leaders who are pioneers in developing the U.S.-Japan relationship. Through their stories, we will learn about the role of Japanese Americans in strengthening U.S.-Japan relations, and the ways Japan has contributed to Japanese American identity and community. This second dialogue in the series will feature former USJC Board Member Atsuko Toko Fish. Ms. Fish will share personal stories of what inspired her to become a philanthropist and an advocate for women’s leadership, and how tennis played a role in her success.

Minneapolis Institute of Art New Online Learning Resource

MIA has a new online learning resource dedicated to the arts, voices, and stories of Asia and the Asian diaspora. Aligning Mia’s exceptional Asian art collection with our status as the largest arts educator in the state of Minnesota, this new resource features videos, lesson plans, hands-on activities, and stories, with an emphasis on empathy, creativity, critical thinking, and global understanding.

The site is divided into three primary units: Critical FoundationsOur Stories, and Make it . Check out all three units and our additional resources to experience Mia’s collection and find inspiration. 

Mask Up 2020 Contest

The Japan Foundation, New York (JF) and The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership (CGP) has launched “Mask Up 2020,” an original face mask design contest open to all U.S.-residing amateur artists - from children to adults - and participation is free. Winning designs will be printed on masks, winners will receive 25 masks; the rest will be distributed. Winners will be announced during a live event on our YouTube channel.  

We thought this contest might be of interest to you and the JET Alumni network, so attached, please find a PDF of the guidelines with links to our website for additional details. Please feel free to share this information with others.   
Here is a brief outline of the contest:  

  • Deadline: Friday, January 22, 2021 by 6:00pm (EST)  

  • Voting: February 8-17, 2021

  • Winners announced: March 1, 2021  

Thank you to our grantors, program partners, and donors!

View Complete Donor List[UNIQID]
USJETAA is an independent, self-sustaining 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization that serves as a resource for and about the JETAA network and alumni in the United States. To learn more about our activities, become a registered member, or to support our efforts, please visit us at
Copyright © 2020 USJETAA, All rights reserved.

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