On November 12-13th, the JETAA Oceania Regional Conference took place in Canberra, Australia.
JETAA Oceania isn't an official designation, but it's a term used to refer to the Australia-New Zealand region. For the country representative delegates of Australia and New Zealand, this would be the second conference in two weekends, coming from the JETAA International Meeting and Global Forum in Tokyo.
This year's theme focused on 30 years of the JET Programme, with presentations and discussions on topics ranging from the ongoing relevance of the JET Programme, continuing challenges, and strategies to mobilise the JETAA community. Chapter delegates also shared their experience on what has and hasn't worked over the past year, on aspects such as increasing attendance numbers and outreach initiatives to potential members. Among some ideas discussed:
Creating special positions on committee for non-JETAA members, for individuals who may want to contribute and be active members;
Promote chapters and events through sites like Meetup and Mixi. JETAA Canberra and JETAA WA (Western Australia) use these to increase awareness and participation of their events;
A better way to record planning of events, as well as the debriefing analysis, by using Trello or even a simple spreadsheet (JETAA Wellington);
Ideas on developing post-JET support for recent returnees, such career seminars on using LinkedIn;
A weekend workshopping retreat for committees, to brainstorm ideas, planning and for self-reward;
A more structured approach to language exchange nights, such as grouping participants by language level, and having alternating English-Japanese speaking hour (JETAA South Island);
Group brainstorming session on collaborating with other chapters, domestically and overseas - something like a sister chapter relationship (session lead by JETAA NSW).
The special guest speakers were Mr Sam Beever, and ex-JET who now works as Director of the Japan Section in the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, and Mr Yoshihide Miwa, First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy, both of whom participated in a Q&A panel about JET's place in Japan's foreign policy. Both highlighted JET's part in Japan's soft power diplomacy, with it's potential in tourism, promotions and sports (e.g. Olympics and Rugby World Cup). Given how branches of the Ministry of Sports are usually located in the same office as the Board of Education, enterprising JETs may find an opportunity for collaboration due to proximity. Also, Mr Miwa spoke about the new scholarship for Japanese youths known as Tobitate, and expressed hope that JETs could help promote and publicise this in their placements around Japan.
On a more sobering note, many of the New Zealand delegates returned home to endure aftershocks from a earthquake that had hit the country, though fortunately all delegates were safe and accounted for. Many thanks to JETAA Canberra for being gracious hosts and organising a successful and productive conference.