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Patty Blas - Shizuoka (1997-2000)

Where were you in Japan as a JET and when?

I lived in Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture from 1997 - 2000.

What sparked your interest in applying for the JET program?

Quite honestly, I was a senior at Boston College and it was my good friend and Japanese language classmate from Hawaii who asked me to apply for JET with him. Coming from the small Pacific Island of Guam, I had no clue what the JET Program was until my friend from Hawaii asked me to join him in applying.

What are some of the things your prefecture is known for? e.g. food, hotspots, etc.

Shizuoka Prefecture is the home of the beautiful Mount Fuji and the Izu Peninsula. I was blessed with being able to see Fuji-San everyday from my classroom during the colder months. Shizuoka is known as the gourmet prefecture of Japan because of its lush agriculture and climate; it is known for green tea, mandarin oranges, strawberries, cherry shrimp, unagi eel, etc.

Did you pick up any of the regional dialects? What are some of your favorite words or phrases?

While I was in Shizuoka, I was adamant about learning textbook, structured Japanese, so unfortunately, no, I did not pick up a distinct dialect. In class, I was known for having the students repeat a chant after me: “I want, I need, I love English.” That was my trademark ending to class and also my farewell speech. But the Japanese phrase that helped break the ice with the students was the phrase: “Sukii ga suki desu ka?” My students were selected athletes in the prefecture that attended Shizuoka West High School. This high school specialized in sports education. So the first ski trip the taikuu course (PE Course) students took to ski in the mountains, I went around their class asking them that question. They all gave me funny looks. It was hilarious.

If you were to return to live in Japan, would you choose to live in that same prefecture?

I would love to live in Shizuoka again. I live on Guam now and make it a point to spend sometime during the summers annually in Shizuoka visiting my former school, coworkers and students.

How has your connection in relation to Japan changed since living in Japan?

I was a business management major in Economics when I first joined JET. I am now a teacher in the public school system on Guam teaching Computer Science. I received my masters in teaching and returned to the classroom to hopefully bridge the connections between Japan and Guam, as I had promised in my application essay on JET back in 1997. It is a goal I’ve successfully reached in the most recent years, but now I’d like to expand the connections to school programs and organized exchange trips between Japan and Guam for sports events.

I joined the Japan Society of Boston because I have former classmates and friends from BC in the Boston Area school system that are interested in visiting Japan, also. So I believe my relationship with Japan has gotten stronger. It amazes me sometimes how fortunate I am to have been a JET participant and to still utilize its purpose and strengths for my career now. Thanks to social media, I can talk to my former students almost on a daily basis. I can view their stories and posts on Instagram and share them with my Instagram followers and students on Guam, and potentially everywhere.

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