2013 JET-MIP Essay: Alex Leal

January, 2014: Breeze Issue #75

A Free Monthly E-Newsletter for Friends of Japan & Teachers of Japanese

Alex Christopher Leal

Bishop Blanchet High School
Mukilteo, WA

The JET Memorial Invitation Program stands out as one of the most amazing experiences in my short life. Going to Japan had been a dream of mine ever since I started taking Japanese during my first year of high school. I was completely unaware that I would get to go, and when I heard the news I was ecstatic.

I was also completely uninformed. I had heard of Taylor Anderson and Montgomery Dickson when briefing myself before the interview, but I still thought of the program as some sort of sightseeing tour up until I arrived in Los Angeles and heard presentations by Mr. Anderson, Taylor’s father, and Ms. Fredrickson, Monty’s sister. After the orientation in Los Angeles, I realized that we were going to Japan to build bridges between the USA & Japan, furthering what Monty and Taylor had originally done, as well as the work done by the previous two JET Memorial Invitation Programs.

Seeing Japan is a great experience no matter how you go, but doing it through this program made it an extraordinary experience. The program was professional, well organized, and ran by people truly invested in the futures of both countries. We stayed in first class lodgings, from hotels to the history filled Hotel Boyo. We were able to do two homestays, both in different areas of Japan. We were also able to visit numerous schools, where we made friends with the students and still communicate with them via the Internet. We were able to hear from people who knew Taylor & Monty, and visit the Tohoku region, the region most affected by the tsunami, where we talked to people who had lived through it.

There is simply no substitute for the experience that JET MIP provides.

I was able to learn more about the world I live in, the country I’m from, and the people of another country so far away from me in some ways, yet so close to me in others. I realized that the US and Japan are connected by so much more than a military alliance. Our cultures, economies, and ultimately our destinies as peoples are intertwined. This I am convinced. We have so much to offer each other, and I’m proud to continue to build the bridge, just not between the US and Japan, but between every country and people in the world.

In college, I plan to continue to study Japanese. As a result of JET MIP, I am now going to focus on international business, so that I can one day return to and help out the people of Japan. I am also keeping in contact with my host families and many friends that I made both from America and from Japan.

This program is a great way to expose your community to Japan. Telling my family and friends about my experiences was awesome, and I highly look forward to presenting my experiences at my school. I really hope that talking about Japan will encourage more people to visit it and learn about the culture of the Japanese people. Moreover, I hope that my work will encourage people to visit the Tohoku region, and my presentation will encourage more students to take Japanese.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Taylor & Monty for all they did - for being both exemplary Americans and exemplary people. They began building this bridge, and I only wish they were still here to continue it. But I guess, in a way, they are. Through JET MIP, through all of us, Americans & Japanese who continue their work, they live on. I think they’re pretty happy with that, and I hope we will continue to make them proud.

Build On!

Nippon Through My Eyes Photo Submission

“Hotel Boyo”

We are a connected world. Languages and friendships now spawn the globe. Twitter is popular in Japan, and Pokemon is popular in America. But long before our pop culture spread to each other, our themes connected us. We are all human beings, and the owner of Hotel Boyo (Top Left) demonstrated this universal trait by turning their hotel into a refugee center during the aftermath of 3/11.





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