By Monica Yuki
USJETAA supports the JET Program in many capacities to strengthen the future of the program, the alumni, and maintain the bond between the U.S. and Japan. Through the Leadership Program, USJETAA visits alumni chapters in the U.S. to offer support and moderate some chapter discussions. In February 2019, USJETAA Board Member, Monica Yuki, had the opportunity to visit with the members of JETAA Southeast Chapter (JETAASE). The chapter is based in Atlanta, GA where the consulate is located. Over the past couple of years active alumni in the surrounding regions have created subchapters in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama. USJETAA recognized the importance for a visit to this chapter since they have hundreds of alumni spread across the four states. Through a grant provided by CLAIR, USJETAA organized a special event for the chapter to come together for an in-person all day brainstorm meeting to discuss the status and opportunities for future growth and support of alumni in the region. If you missed this session please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the upcoming events in the region.
The brainstorm meeting was attended by 15 alumni spanning 29 years of the program from 1989 through 2018. Attendees included the JETAASE executive board, leaders from all sub-chapters and members looking to get involved. Recognizing that this is a completely volunteer led organization, the session started with a discussion on personal, profession and chapter goals. Discussing personal contributions and goals helped prepare for the following discussions on what solutions alumni can offer to resolve challenges in the chapter. Formed in 1991, JETAASE has regularly offered support to outgoing and returning participants of the JET Program. Members of the chapter have continually been big supporters of the annual Japan Fest, which is the largest Japan-related event in the southeastern United States. Many alumni show support through volunteering and the chapter hosts a booth where they share information on the JET program.
The attendees focused on one of the main challenges this chapter faces, which is that members are spread-out across four states. Thanks to having this brainstorm session and meeting face to face with other alumni passionate about the program it will make future planning of meetings and events much smoother and increase attendance.
Through the all-day brainstorm, JETAASE members agreed that the area of focus for improvements are membership engagement, online visibility and promotion of U.S. Japan connections. The group also brainstormed various events that fall into the following categories:
- Social Events
- Personal Interest Groups
- Professional Development
- Japan Education/Awareness
- JET Program Support
Many attendees raised their hands to take on new leadership roles within the chapter. The chapter not only needs people in these roles, but they are members’ areas of expertise. Everyone was excited to have new energy brought into the organization.
When the meeting ended, all participants caravanned to I Love Sushi, a local restaurant, for Sukiyaki and other traditional Japanese food. It was the perfect way to keep the conversations going on how to continue to strengthen and build the JETAA South East chapter and subchapters!
If you want to join the chapter, sign-up for the newsletter and/or get more involved contact the JETAASE Executive board at: email@example.com
Connect with JETAA South East and Sub-chapters
- Subchapter JETAA North Carolina: https://www.facebook.com/groups/jetaasenc/
- Subchapter JETAA South Carolina: https://www.facebook.com/groups/jetaasenc/
- Subchapter JETAA Alabama: https://www.facebook.com/groups/821017118257688/
The Leadership Program is funded by CLAIR Japan Local Government Center.