Thanks to everyone who submitted an application for the 2020-2021 GAJET Committee. Please read over all the candidate’s platforms below. Once you’re ready, you can vote on our Google Form by clicking here. Voting will end on Sunday, June 14th at midnight. Best of luck to all candidates!
Valerie Landers (Tomioka)
Running for: President or Seibu Rep
“The more the merrier.” “Where there’s a will there’s a way.”
Hello Gunma JET family! You know me as a senior high school ALT who has lived in Tomioka for four years now, enjoys adventuring around Gunma in less socially restricted times, and currently serves as a member of Gunma’s Prefectural Advisor team. I have also served on GAJET committees for the past two years, and am looking forward to what I hope will be a third year as President, if the people are so inclined!
This year, under the leadership of our current president, we enjoyed a fantastic number of events, including ALL NEW “R U Free Fridays” and the FIRST EVER ONLINE I Can Japan! The coming year’s GAJET committee is going to need that same innovative spirit that brought us these events, now more than ever as we brave the current reality imposed by the threat of COVID-19, which has forced us to alter and adapt the ways in which we bring the community together. Coronavirus isn’t going to stop GAJET from doing what it does best—bringing Gunma JETs together, providing support and building a community that extends throughout Gunma, and lives around the world.
To make that happen, I will work to increase GAJET’s capacity to host virtual events, and when it’s finally safer to do so, in-person events. We will maintain and develop our online presence so that Gunma JETs have access to entertaining and informative resources. As President, I will support regional representatives in making their projects a success so that they can build strong regional networks.
For the 2018–2019 GAJET year I had the opportunity to support the president and the team as Vice President. This past year I was privileged to serve as Regional Representative for Seibu. We had a GREAT time, bringing home the Golden Cabbage at Gunma Games, and enjoyed a number of hikes, even though there were times when bad weather threatened to literally rain on our parades. Hosting these events was a delight, their success made possible by the participation of Gunma JETs. This past year the GAJET committee and the Gunma JET crew as a whole faced unprecedented challenges. The novel coronavirus still casts a threatening shadow over us all. This coming year will not be easy, but as president I will help the new committee navigate the coming challenges and obstacles so we can continue to be there for our fellow JETs.
This GAJET year will be about inclusion, innovation, and accessibility—bringing us together, ensuring that Gunma JETs feel at home and welcome, making information and activities accessible linguistically, and having fun! With the support of the community and the committee let’s make 2020–2021 another successful year to add to the annals of Gunma JET history.
Aidan Koch (Kiryu)
Running for: President
I love the work that GAJET does, creating a community for people to feel at home when they are living in a foreign country. We are all very far from home, and having good friends to rely on betters the experience in so many ways. GAJET makes it much easier to meet all sorts of people, and I want GAJET to continue its work in that regard. Together with the other members of GAJET, I helped plan several events this year: Gunma Games (insert meme here), several RUF Fridays, Thanksgiving, The Christmas Party, and I Can Japan. I also have years of experience in school, work, and extracurriculars planning events to bring people together, from senior sendoff BBQs and year-end banquets to community service projects and volunteer opportunities. And I believe the meme wars can attest to my enthusiasm for this kind of work. Covid-19 has made it hard for the community to come together, but we have still found ways to make it happen. I Can Japan 2020 was a great success, raising over ¥200,000, and it showed the strength of our Gunma Community. And as things improve and we start to go back out into the world, I will make sure GAJET is there to host the type of events that responsibly bring us together to enjoy our mutual company once again. I, and every other member of GAJET, look forward to seeing all of you there.
Ciara Lily Malone (Takasaki)
Running for: Vice President or Seibu Rep
Hello Gunma! Do you remember me? I’m Ciara Malone from the UK, going into my fourth (and I swear, final) year as an Elementary School teacher in Yoshii-machi. I’ve spent the past year being the President of GAJET and am hoping to join as either a supportive Vice-President or Seibu Rep to the new team!
Without the strong community that Gunma has, my time in Japan would have been half the experience that it has been, and we are lucky to have such a tight-knit community in our prefecture. With all the unprecedented challenges we faced this past year, I am really proud of what GAJET managed to achieve, and am looking forward to the opportunity to support the new team with my two years of GAJET experience!
I hope I can have your support in bringing another year showing the best of the great inaka to you! (And, of course, more RUFFs!)
Linka Wade (Higashiagatsuma)
Running for: Vice President or Tone-Agatsuma Rep
Hello, I’m Linka and I’m heading into my 3rd year of living in Higashiagatsuma-machi. I have served as the Tone/Agatsuma Representative for the last year. GAJET is truly a wonderful organization that works hard to bring our community together. I have loved being a part of it. I have enjoyed representing my regions (small but mighty!) and would love to continue to do so. As Togatsu Rep, I have worked to highlight the treasures of Gunma’s less-visited regions. The ALTs in these regions are also more spread apart, making a sense of community here all the more important. No matter how distant we are, I have hoped to make each ALT in the Tone/Agatsuma area feel that they are part of the inaka family.
Although I love my regions, I also believe that I have the skills to do even more for GAJET. I would bring organizational and communication skills to the position of Vice President, as well as a love for Gunma. I want to help continue our great traditions and events, as well as explore new options on how to make our community even greater. I hope to work more with GAJET in this coming year. Thank you!
Running for: Vice President or Tobu Rep
G’day cobber! It’s Kei; your best friend, your DM, and your food pun overlord!
I’m a first-year JET from Australia, currently living in Midori. You may have heard me making bad puns in the infamous Line chat, or drunkenly belting out showtunes at RUFF nights!
In the ten months I’ve been here, Gunma has become more than just the place I live. Before the dreaded ウイルス、I spent nearly every weekend going somewhere new. Amid the apocalypse, it’s the community that’s keeping me sane. Words can’t express how much I enjoy being here, and the company I’m surrounded by plays no small part in how I feel. I want to become involved with that community on a new level, and as part of GAJET, I would do everything within my power to make The Cabbage Patch an even better place to be a JET.
Before coming to Japan, I was the Australia and New Zealand Regional Team Leader for the <redacted company with a fruit logo> Online Store and Post-Sales Service Team. I have also worked extensively in various administrative and customer service roles over the last 12 years, where I have gained many valuable people- and time-management skills. I thrive on detail and working under pressure, and I understand the importance of building rapport, connecting to others in a real way, and empathizing with every individual I have the privilege of meeting, all whilst ensuring that the objective is achieved in a timely and organised manner.
In university, I was the vice-president and treasurer for the Cosplay Club (yes, I know), and have been responsible for organising and volunteering with many events within that community. More recently since arriving in Japan, I have volunteered with both GAJET and JOMO JET events, International Carnival, organised trips and events for other JETs, and worked closely with local government tourism initiatives here in Midori. I am also directly responsible for creating the Gunma ALTs Line chat, and the Tobu Movie Night and Game Night events. I believe my experience, attitude, and skills will be an asset to GAJET in supporting the next President as their Vice-President, or in a direct-facing role as a regional rep, and I hope to expand on them and learn even more by working together with a varied and wonderful group of people.
If elected, I will create more regular and varied events, such as hikes, local tours, games nights, and dégustation adventures. Gunma is pretty spread out, which is good for social distancing, less so for fun, and for those of us without a car, travelling can be a tad めんどくさい。By making events more accessible for everyone, for example by increasing online events such as movie and game nights, varying event locations amongst the lesser-known areas, and organising carpool or travel options each time, I hope to foster a more close-knit community and keep Gunma the best prefecture in Japan!
Also, my meme game is as strong as (read: better than) the previous Tobu rep, so you know I’ll keep tradition alive. Let’s get that Golden Cabbage!
Loïc Cremer (Takasaki)
Running for: Vice President or Seibu Rep
Hello all, I’m Loïc! I’m a soon-to-be second year Takasaki ALT from Canada and I want to represent you on the GAJET council. In my time here I’ve fallen head over heels for our little cabbage patch. It has everything I love: Mountains, beautiful nature, Nichijou, and now all of you! This is my home, and that’s in no small part thanks to our amazing community. Now I want to give back, and help make this phenomenal prefecture the best place to be a JET in Japan!
I am running on a platform of creativity, collaboration, and great events. I have lots of ideas for the stay-at-home summer and fall that may await us, featuring remote trivia nights, movie nights, and an alternative to our traditional outdoor Gunma Games making use of Jackbox, JeoParty, and other community chosen games to create a “Gunma E-games.” What’s especially great is that even if we aren’t quarantined all summer, these can easily be held as Winter activities instead. Community involvement in decisions is also very important to me, I want to collaborate with everyone to make next year great, and plan to regularly reach out for community input and ideas. Let’s build an amazing year together!
I also have a solid background in leadership. As the dungeon master for two separate D&D groups over 5 years, I organised regular game nights, managed group conflicts, and learned excellent scheduling skills all while creating a fun, positive atmosphere for my players. I also worked as the Project Lead for several endeavours, notably in theatre and game design. My working proficiency in Japanese will also be a useful asset in assisting both GAJET and the community at large.
I have geared my adult life towards making others happy through communication and play, and I want to keep doing that as your GAJET representative. Thanks to everyone for your consideration, and for your general awesomeness! I hope you’ll choose me as one of your representatives on his Gunmajesty’s Public Service!
Kelly Lau (Takasaki)
Running for: Secretary
Hello everyone, my name is Kelley! I’m from Toronto, Canada and I’d love to be your secretary for next year’s GAJET committee. I’m currently a first-year Takasaki ALT teaching in the little known area of Kurabuchi. It’s a crazy time to be a JET right now and I want to give back to the Gunma ALT community as much as I possibly can. Moving into a new country has been made so much easier with the support of all the ALTs I’ve met along the way, and I have GAJET to thank for it! Before coming to Gunma, I would never have thought that there could be such a tight-knit community made up of individuals dispersed throughout a prefecture as big as ours; now I am proud to say that I am a part of it.
I would like to be your secretary for this upcoming year as I feel that my strengths fit best under this position. I’ve always had a passion for reading and writing growing up. As a student, I studied the humanities and have spent a good portion of my time conducting and summarizing research. I am thorough and concise in my work – constantly striving to be better. Before coming to Japan, I worked as a supervisor at a well-known coffee shop – allowing me to become adept in time management and communication. I am also quite organized (I have zero unread emails, if that says anything about how meticulous I am).
TL;DR: My name is Kelley. GAJET is great and I wanna be a part of it by taking good notes.
Geoffrey Hendricks (Takasaki)
Running for: Treasurer
A degree in Japanese has taught me many things, the least of which is that Japan is an entire nation of people and culture that demands further representation in both my home country and abroad. That being said, while my years in university were dedicated to music and language, my future goals are to enter the business world, exploring my passion for people and my love of culture to allow the world to experience the joys of places they’ve never visited. This position would not only help me prepare for my exciting future but allow me to give back and serve the community that has welcomed me with open arms as I embarked on this stage in life.
Over the past 6 months, I have been researching and finding role models to drive my passion, people like the former President of Nintendo Reggie “The Regginator” Fils-Aimé. As well, my free time has been devoted to reinforcing my knowledge of numbers and maths in order to be successful both now and in the coming years. Using the skills I acquired in university – thinking critically, acting swiftly, and valuing time and possessions of others – I know that I will be able to take on this position with the dedication and passion of a relentless performer hoping to work and serve others. Thank you for your consideration as I attempt to embark on the first step of my new journey.
Marissa Danielsen (Takasaki)
Running for: Editor/Webmaster and Seibu Rep
Hi! I’m Marissa. I’m going into my second year as a SHS ALT in Yoshii-machi. I live in Takasaki with my husband. I’m from Los Angeles, California, USA. I like cooking, gardening, making art, and gaming.
TLDR; I want to be Seibu Rep to organize social mixers, arts and culture events, and hiking trips! I have at least 3 years of experience being on a committee organizing a variety of events for large groups of people, and being a representative. I want to be Editor because as a former college composition and grammar professor, I would love to help the creative types of Gunma develop and hone their voice and show it off on our various social media platforms.
Why GAJET is important to me
This past year has been full of misadventure with a mega-typhoon and a global pandemic sweeping across Japan. For me, on top of the expected culture shock, this year of anxiety was compounded by a deep loneliness, as my husband and I were long distance for about 7 months. An oasis in the desert of bad vibes was the GAJET community. Those happy memories — Gunma Games, RUFFs followed by karaoke, dancing to a Hungarian ska band in Minakami after jumping off 20 meter waterfalls at Canyons, Halloween at Round 1, face-painting at the International Carnival, making turkey gravy for Thanksgiving dinner at Genki 21, dancing horribly to Paprika at the Christmas party — all of these happy memories steeled me against the onslaught of bad news and quarantine lockdown measures.
Why I’m running for Seibu Rep and Editor
In the face of difficult times, it’s important to hold on to friendship, beauty, and a love of nature. Because the community has given so much to me, I want to give back and work to run events for the community. I want to be the Seibu rep to create mixer events to build strong friendships and bonds within the community through happy hours and game nights, create arts and culture events to experience Gunma’s traditional and contemporary art scene through cooking classes, crafts, movie nights, and museum visits, and create regular hiking and nature trips that are accessible to beginners and also fun for more advanced hikers with the ultimate goal of training to hike Mt. Fuji at the end of the year.
I want to be Editor to help show off the talent of Gunma. Before coming to Japan, I was a college composition and grammar professor. I have moonlighted as a copy editor as well. I am extremely familiar with Facebook and WordPress and have created several of my own blogs as well as websites for clubs.
Why I would be a good fit for Seibu Rep and Editor
I would be a good Seibu Rep because I have at least 3 years of being a club representative, organizing events on a regular basis, and working in coordination with a team. In college, I initially got involved by being a TESOL club representative to get funding for my club members to get money for going to conferences and hosting events. The duties included showing up to regular meetings on time, following Robert’s Rules of Order, writing and submitting grant proposals on behalf of club members. As I moved up from representative to Vice President, I started organizing happy hours, board game nights, new student orientation potlucks, I also helped establish and maintain a Peer Mentorship program to support incoming students to the grad program. As President, I worked with my team to host the first ever symposium for our department.
I would be a good Editor because I am well versed in social media and regularly maintaining websites. I was a college composition professor in America and I studied how to respond to and help cultivate writing skills in others. I have also studied English from the linguistic side as well, so not only can I offer content advice, but I can spot a grammar mistake or typo from a mile away. I have copy edited professionally for web content.
Please vote for me as Seibu Rep or Editor if you want me to be a part of GAJET to help give back my time and energy to this wonderful community!
Phillip Yawata (Numata)
Running for: Agatsuma-Tone Rep
Hey all! I’m a soon to be third-year high school ALT out here in Numata. For the past two years I’ve had the pleasure of meeting members of our community through GAJET-run events. Rather than simply participate, I decided now is the time for me to step up and be part of organizing future events for our wonderful group here in Gunma.
I fell in love with my placement here in Numata, and often spend my weekends traveling to nearby areas to find new places to share with others. The combined regions for Tone and Agatsuma are quite large, but there are very few of us JETs stationed here. As such, I realize people need a good reason to travel all the way north here. I’d like to help provide people with that reason. Due to the current global pandemic, many events and festivals have been postponed or canceled. Even if we can’t hold events in person for the time being, I believe we can find new ways to stay connected while exercising social distancing.
The people I’ve connected with here, both from the local Japanese and ALT communities, have given me the opportunity to be a part of festivals, international events, and so much more. Now, I’d like to share those experiences with all of you. Thanks for your consideration!
Ashton Acree (Maebashi)
Running for: Chubu Rep
Hello! My name is Ashton Elizabeth Acree, and I’m a JET placed in Maebashi. I’m interested in running for the Chubu Representative position.
I would like to be considered for the position of Chubu Rep and a part of GAJET so that I could play a more proactive role in supporting the JET community and bringing our members closer together through fun events and hangout sessions (although while under Corona-chan’s ominous grip, these hangouts are largely online). I would take great joy in welcoming new JETs into the Cult of Chubu and establishing myself as a go-to member for information, community involvement, and mild shenanigans.
Some things about me that qualify me for this position include:
– I enjoy organizing events and being a part of a team. I was the senior officer for a local chapter of SOZO, a group that runs a clothing drive to benefit a self-sustaining orphanage in Uganda, and was in charge of creating awareness for the drive. I also assisted in setting up and running events for my university’s esports team, and was their graphic designer.
– I do my best to be an unabashed person and bring all of my energy to events and social gatherings. The employees of Manekineko are still haunted by the banshee screams echoing from my karaoke room.
– I am a go-getter who strives for victory. I came in second-to-last place in the cabbage toss at the last Gunma Games, but no one had more heart in yeeting that cabbage than me.
– I love adventure and keep myself curious. I never turn down offers to travel somewhere new and am delighted to explore all of the nooks and crannies of Gunma. One of my past times has been to visit new shops and restaurants to equip myself with an arsenal of recommendations.
– I accept challenges and do not shy away from difficult situations. I was in the city hall once a week over the course of several months last year to resolve a pension issue. I can and will fight the bureaucracy for you.
I hope you will consider me for the position of the Chubu Representative.