Updated: Jul 14, 2021
Where were you in Japan as a JET and when?
I taught at Wako Koksusai High School as a proud Saitama JET from 1997 - 1999.
What sparked your interest in applying for the JET program?
I had job interviews for Wall Street banks and large corporations, but decided halfway through my senior year at Morehouse College that a) I wanted to try something totally different b) I wanted to experience life overseas and outside of the Southeast US.
What are some of the things your prefecture is known for? Ex. food, hotspots, etc.
Saitama is known for manufacturing, along with a lot of large companies being based there including Honda, and it's known for hosting several great communities like Omiya and Asaka that are close to downtown Tokyo. It also has a great park called Shinrin Koen that is famous (https://www.shinrinkoen.jp/en/). It also hosted some World Cup games as well. Saitama is great.
Did you pick up any of the regional dialects? What are some of your favorite words or phrases?
They don't have much in terms of local dialect. It's just the Tokyo dialect I guess. My favorite phases include: Chotto-mate kudasai (wait a minute please) and Kanpai (Cheers). :-)
If you were to return to live in Japan, would you choose to live in that same prefecture? (Or in your case you can talk about where you are living in Japan now).
I would live in Saitama, Tokyo, or Yokohama. All great spots. When I returned the other 2 times, I lived in the Musashi Kosugi area (in Yokohama) and then the Gakugei Daigaku area in Tokyo. All of those areas are great in addition to the Asaka and Tsuruse areas I stayed in in Saitama.
How has your connection in relation to Japan changed since living in Japan?
It has stayed strong. After my 2 years on JET, I returned to live and work in Japan two more times, and represented the state of South Carolina in Japan as their official representative while hosting the state of SC Governor there.
This interview is part of a partnership between the Japan Society Boston (JSB) and the United States Japan Exchange & Teaching Programme Alumni Association (USJETAA) in which JET alumni contribute short interviews about their experiences in Japan in each prefecture.
Visit the main JSB website: https://www.japansocietyboston.org/
Check out JSB's "My Japan Journey" Podcast: https://japansocietyboston.wixsite.com/ourjapanjourneys