Representatives from all 19 US chapters gathered in Los Angeles from September 29th to October 2nd for their annual National Conference.
They were joined by the Canada Rep and a Chapter Rep from JETAANA (Northern Alberta), all three US Country Reps, and alumni liaisons and officials from the Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC, and the Consulate in LA, along with a top official from CLAIR Tokyo and staff from JLGC/CLAIR New York.
Held in the Little Tokyo neighborhood, the focus of this year's conference was how the JET alumni can better engage with the Japanese-American community, as one more aspect of the alumni network's efforts to partner with local communities and Japan-related groups around the country. To this end, the conference included a guided tour of the Japanese American National Museum, located down the street in Little Tokyo, and sessions on topics such as the history of Japanese immigration to the US and the ways in which historical, economic, and social factors helped shape the identities of different groups within this overall movement.
There were reports from each chapter on their most interesting and successful activities, workshop sessions on strengthening chapters and improving the alumni's ability to network and demonstrate "Return-on-JET-vestment" to communities in Japan, career development advice, an update on developments in Canada, and explanations of funding and alumni support from MOFA and CLAIR.
There were also updates on the new national nonprofit organization, USJETAA, and on JETAA-I, along with an amusing and informative talk by Jason Porath, an Ibaraki-ken alumnus and creator of Rejected Princesses, on "Unexpected Ways JET Helped".
The conference also served as the official kick-off for the 30th anniversary year of the JET Program, which will be celebrated by chapters in Canada and the US as well as by USJETAA over the coming year. The major inaugural event in Japan, of course, will be the celebration in Tokyo on November 7th, immediately following the JETAA International Meeting.