Hello everyone! It’s that time of the year again! As the weather begins to change, so must the GAJET Committee! This is usually the point where we tell you all that it’s time to elect your new GAJET Committee by voting. However, unlike previous years, this year we had only candidate for each position. Therefore, we are happy to pass on our torches at this time to the new GAJET committee!. With that said, they have already discussed amongst each other and have decided they still want to share their platforms with you. So, without further ado, the 2014-2015 GAJET Committee!
President – Peter Frazer
For the past year I have served as GAJET’s Editor, working on and maintaining the GunmaJET.net website. Throughout my work, I have prided myself on paying careful attention to detail while generally keeping a “big picture” point of view when tackling tasks. Although managing the website was my primary job, I was also responsible for assisting in the planning and execution of a number of GAJET events in addition to regular committee responsibilities. I strongly believe that the skills and values I learned while on GAJET this year—such as time management, flexibility and sacrifice—have prepared me to take a big step forward.
I would argue that this year’s committee was successful in reaching our goal of building and maintaining a support network at local, regional and prefectural levels through consistent communication and events. As president, my goal would be to continue the legacy of this year’s committee by strengthening the existing structure, but also reaching out just that little bit further. When coordinating and working as a team, I want to pay close attention to the details but also take a step back and remember to look at that bigger picture. I want to be organised, and I want to be committed—a team I lead would be both of these things.
More specifically, I want to continue to reach out to nearby prefectures for our larger events (such as Canyons and the GAJET Ski Trip), while also fostering successful intra-prefectural events, such as last year’s Art Share Night. I believe the introduction of regular, scheduled monthly meetings (as well as periodic open and online committee meetings) allowed a greater sense of transparency and accountability. I want these to continue into next year’s committee.
As president, I will ensure meetings run smoothly, responsibility is evenly delegated amongst committee members and that GAJET’s presence is felt across the prefecture. I will endeavour to host events around the prefecture so everyone can feel welcome—not just the ones who live in the middle of Gunma, and not just the newcomers.
A vote for me is a vote for an organised, accountable, committed and reliable GAJET. よろしくお願いします！
Vice President – Robbie Blackburn
This past year I’ve served on GAJET as one of the Tone-gun Regional Representatives. As a regional rep I’ve organised frequent local events such as riverside BBQs, board game nights and dinner outings for the JETs in my region.
I’ve also been heavily involved in GAJET at the prefectural level. I introduced and helped organise two of GAJET’s newest events last year; Gunma Games and the Gunma Art Share Night. Both events were great successes and represent the kind of GAJET I would help lead as vice-president.
Gunma Games aimed to welcome new incoming JETs and build stronger inter-regional ties, providing a chance to get to know each other at an event that wasn’t just about drinking. The games were a great success (and not just because the best region won), they exemplified the kind of community building and welcoming culture that GAJET exists to foster.
By the time the new JETs arrive and settle into life in Gunma, summer is over. It’s easy to succumb to winter depression and homesickness (Stage 2) when Gunma is so cold and windy. It’s particularly hard for first year JETs. I proposed hosting an event in the depths of February to help our community make it through winter. The Gunma Art Share Night was an evening of performances and art. We had comedy, music, poetry, paintings, drawings and embroidery, to name just a few. Afterwards, many of the attendees approached GAJET and thanked us for hosting this event, and how it came at the time they needed it the most.
These two events represent the kind of GAJET I want to be a part of; one of inclusion and support. GAJET is more than a party planning committee; it builds the close ties that make Gunma JET life so amazing. It’s thanks to GAJET that I’ve enjoyed my rural Gunma placement so much.
Vote for me to serve as vice-president and I will work with the committee to develop a welcoming, all-inclusive, supportive and fun organisation.
Secretary – Samantha Corpuz
Hello Gunma JETs! My name is Samantha Corpuz, hailing from Vancouver, Canada, and I will be running for Secretary for the 2014-2015 JET year. I’m currently in my 2nd year on JET, working in the beautiful little town of Matsuida-machi in Annaka-shi. Going into my 3rd year, I really hope to continue the work set out by the previous GAJET Council in their efforts to create a stronger community, not only amongst JETs, but with the wider community of ALTs, ex-pats, and locals.
In my first year on JET, I volunteered at the 2012 Skills Development Conference, or SDC. I also volunteered at the 2013 SDC, the 2013 Summer Conference, and was a member of the 2013 Gunma Orientation Committee. I have also become more involved with GAJET by volunteering at events, especially I Can Japan. I have enjoyed all of these experiences and have learned so much through them, and I would be so excited to have the opportunity to do even more as secretary.
I have always had a passion for bringing people together, and majored in Communications and Dialogue in university. Community and connection are the most important things to me. Living in a foreign country can be overwhelming, as I’m sure most of us have learned during our time in Gunma. Through GAJET, I would like to continue building community through effective, honest, and respectful communication, both within the Council and the wider community. My aim in running for secretary is to ensure that your voice is heard and respected, and that members of the Council are accountable to each other and to the community it serves.
Thank you for your time, and hope to be working for you in the upcoming year!
Treasurer – Alice Volkmar
Hey guys! I’m running for treasurer of GAJET again and really excited about the possibility of continuing to work for you all. During my time on JET I have presented at the Summer Conference, participated in the JOMO JET committee to encourage JET engagement with the wider Gunma community, and been a Tokyo Orientation Assistant where I presented a panel and helped facilitate the Irish Embassy Event. I was also invited to present a panel at Anime Expo in California on the topic of life in Japan, with promotional consideration provided by the Gunma Tourism Board. Hundreds of instant converts to the church of Gunma-chan cheered when he came on the screen, and promised not only to visit Japan but to specifically come to Gunma as well. I’ve been doing my best to spread the good word about life in Japan and especially Gunma both at home and abroad since the moment I arrived!
Before my time on JET, I was president of Otakorp Inc., a multimillion dollar 501c3 Educational Arts Non-Profit Corporation which regularly puts on events of up to 30,000 people. As a result of my work for Otakorp I have been running events in both the US and Japan for over six years. I am well-experienced in running events of all sizes as well as managing communities, both digital and in real life. I love event planning, community management, and social media, and want to put all of my skills to the test for the Gunma community!
I want to continue the great work of the GAJET council and continue improving life in Gunma for all ALTs in our lovely prefecture. I want to increase engagement at a local level, and I also want to engage Gunma with the wider ALT community. I believe our organization should be inclusive, be engaging, and be awesome. I hope you believe in me!
Editor – Sarah Anderson
Hello all! My name is Sarah Anderson, and I’m a soon-to-be third year JET from the US. After a year of working within our community as a regional representative (Seeiibuuuu!), I’d like to serve you now as GAJET Editor.
A little about me! Before coming to Japan I was a staff reporter for a weekly newspaper. I had a good deal of autonomy in my position there, and was responsible for developing and pursuing my own story leads in addition to covering day-to-day news. My duties also included uploading articles onto the newspaper’s web edition and promoting them in a way that was compelling and to the point. Reporting for a news outlet is a fast paced job and demands adaptability and creativity. While I suspect (and hope) there will be fewer burned buildings and budget controversies to cover in my time as editor, I will use these skills to keep the site current and at the forefront of ALT resources.
My main goal as editor will be to increase community involvement with the site. I want our website to be a living resource, one that is both entertaining and responsive to our community’s needs. We can achieve this by 1) cultivating new writers, 2) crowdsourcing story ideas, and 3) offering more interactive content, such as community surveys, writing contests and story swaps. Our website is already pretty fantastic, but getting you more involved can only make it better.
I promise to be a committed editor dedicated to serving the needs of the Gunma ALT community. We are lucky enough to have an awesome site that has consistently been led by awesome people. I know that together we will continue to fill our Gunma-chan-shaped chunk of cyberspace with thoughtful and informed content. Thank you for your consideration.
Webmaster – Crystal Lamptey
Hello everyone, I’m Crystal Lamptey, and I hope you’ll vote for me as webmaster. My main motivation in joining Gunma AJET is to improve the ways our community benefits from technology. The job description includes dry and businesslike duties such as creating forms, developing GAJET’s online presence, managing web pages and cloud storage. If that doesn’t sound very interesting to you, you’re in luck because I am standing by with my love for the internet and all the ways to use it, ready to handle all those responsibilities for you.
I’m in my second year of teaching elementary and junior high school in Shibukawa, the geographical center of Japan and home to the annual belly-button festival Heso Matsuri. My hobbies include singing in the rain, cooking with edible results and driving around Gunma to enjoy the giddy atmosphere and celebrations of Japanese festivals. If that sounds like I have a lot of free time it’s because I do! Thus I have plenty of time and energy to work on the tech products GAJET depends on.
Now let me tell you about my qualifications. My resume-ready skills include: general computer science knowledge (e.g. programming languages, theory) I picked up in university to support my engineering degree; a strong internal drive for efficiency and organization not only when I’m being paid for it but also when I’m volunteering my time and energy for others; and a vast well of patience, focus, and forethought when working with and for people. Between online surveys, registration forms, website administration and anything else that pops up, you can rely on me to manage GAJET’s technological needs.
Chubu Representative – Brandon Killby
Hello Everyone! My name is Brandon Killby and I am a current 2nd year ALT going into my 3rd year in the beautiful and wonderful city of Shibukawa! In this upcoming year I would like to serve as your GAJET Chubu Representative.
Since coming to Japan almost 2 years ago I have been able to make some wonderful friends through the GAJET events and council members. GAJET has done a wonderful job in welcoming and integrating new JETs into Gunma; they helped me feel right at home since the very beginning. I would always feel welcomed at the various events that I would attend, which is why I would like to become a Chubu Representative. I want a chance to be able to connect with the GAJET community and give back to the great Gunma community as a whole. In the past I have made a few “non-official” JET gatherings. This year I took a group of JETs to Nagano where we visited the monkey onsen and traveled around Nagano a bit. I enjoy planning events but more than that I enjoy seeing people having fun at the events, which is why I work hard to make sure that it is as perfect as I can get it. Whatever the event has been or what it will be I enjoy being part of the planning and sharing the knowledge and culture that Gunma has to offer with people.
In the past I have been part of many GAJET events where I worked as a volunteer or just to help spread the word. Also for a short time I volunteered with JOMO JET which I always found a very rewarding and fun experience. I have lived in Gunma for almost a full two years and in my time I have been able to accumulate information on various events that happen throughout Gunma. I am also an active member in the Shibukawa International Association, and would like to introduce more JETs to our events there as well. I also don’t want to just focus on the Chubu region, but as a Chubu Rep I want to spread the news of our events across Gunma, and also share with the people of Chubu the events going on around Gunma in the different regions so we can get a more integrated community going.
In this upcoming 2014-2015 year I would like to represent the Chubu region on the GAJET council to help our community grow and integrate into the GAJET family, and I hope to see you around the cabbage patch!
Chubu Representative – Dan Barhorst
Hello. My name is Dan Barhorst, but I think you already knew that. I am not the Chubu rep that you need, I am the Chubu rep you deserve. I’m not going to waste all of our time telling you why I need your vote. I will let my accomplishments speak for me. First off, I am a member of the “mile high club”. There is an unfortunate soul somewhere in Denver who can back my claim up. I have also beaten Halo 2 on legendary with my friend Joe, who is my partner both in business and in life. I am also a member of the “Patriarchy”, although I didn’t realize it until I came to Japan.
As you can see in this picture, I have also been to Africa. Guess what I didn’t take? Malaria medication. I also never got tested for it. I could still have it in my system for all I know. That’s the kind of representative I can be. I am not afraid to take risks.
My personal record for most beers in one night is 22. That was a dark time in my life, but still, that has to count for something. I also did not vote for Obama in the 2012 election. Can you believe I just admitted to that? I am from the “Show Me State”, so I am a straight shooter. Speaking of shootings, I am from one of the top 5 most dangerous cities in America.
The city of St. Louis has taught me many lessons, but most of all, it taught me how to be courageous. Sometimes, you need those drugs and that means having to drive into the east side. You have an 8% chance of being murdered in East St. Louis. I’m a gambler at heart, so I will take those odds any day of the week.
Thank you for your time and God bless America.
Tone Representative – Kimberly Smith
Hi! My name is Kimberley Smith and I’m a seond year JET teaching in Minakami. I was born and raised in good old New Zealand. So I absolutely feel right at home in the beautiful Minakami as it reminds me of home. I am surrounded by mountains and love the outdoor activities that Minakami provides. I was able to head up to the slopes twice this year, wish I went more but there is always next winter.
I was the Tone Regional Rep last year and absolutely loved it and want to run again this year as the Tone rep. Have to say we are few in numbers but still took out the title at the Gunma games. I had the privilege of organizing the Kabuki trip this year which was quite a success. If given the opportunity again I would love to help organize more events this year in Tone and in Gunma as a whole. I feel I have really flourished more in my second year and have really connected more with the community inside and outside of JET. I participate in the local Taiko group in our area and help out with an English conversation group now and again. I have also helped out with the JOMO games night that was held in our area and helped out at the SDC conference last year.
One thing that really blew me away when I first arrived and continues to blow me away is the sense of feeling belonged and apart of something. JET as a whole has an intense community presence about it. As soon as you arrive there are events happening, which are a great way to get to know the Gunma community. So there was never a moment when you felt alone or isolated. It was those moments that I treasure and realize how valued they are for someone who is in a foreign country and environment. So that is why I am applying to be the Tone Rep and am committed to making sure regular events are being held in our area. So that newcomers and existing ALT’s feel belonged and part of a community, just the way I felt when I first arrived and still feel today.
So if given the chance I want to really foster the strong ties that already exist with the Tone region and to broaden those ties out to Gunma as a whole. But not to stop there, also to connect, socialize with other JET’s in other prefectures.
Tone Representative – Mitch Goddard
Hi everyone, my name is Mitch Goddard and I’m just about to head into my second year on the JET Programme as an ALT in Minakami. Surrounded by some of the most picturesque nature I’ve ever seen, Minakami is easily one of the beautiful and exciting places to visit in Gunma and if given the chance to be the Tone Regional Rep I will pimp out all the amazing things you can do here to anybody who will listen, and I’m loud so they’ll listen.
Originally I’m from Perth in Western Australia where I was a city-dwelling, cocktail drinking, working in an 18+ establishment guy, whereas now I’m a country-living, Masterchef watching, in bed by 10pm, elementary school ALT. Its fair to say my life has completely done a 180. Had it not been for the support from the JETs living in Gunma I’m not sure I would have settled into this new lifestyle as easily as I did.
Tone has only a few ALTs, but the sense of community is overwhelmingly strong and I want to continue to have that feeling in Tone as well as for anybody who comes to visit along the way. Since arriving I have integrated myself into not only the JET community but the local community as well. I’ve been involved with JOMO JET helping out at various game nights, as well as volunteering to help at the recent I Can Japan fundraising event. Recently I have started playing Taiko at the local community centre and plan to make my debut at the upcoming summer festivals.
So now its my turn, to help organize fun, exciting events to get people up to Tone and see what we have to offer and to help on a larger scale with GAJET to ensure that all JETs have a chance to do as much as possible whilst we are all here together.
Tobu Representative – Kristen Mancini
Hi Gunma JETS! My name is Kristen Mancini, and I am a first-year JET from America living and teaching in Ota. The Tobu Region is located in the far eastern part of Gunma at the “head of the crane.” I would love to be Tobu Representative and serve as a connection between not just the JETs in Gunma, but the many non-JET ALTs and friends that I have become acquainted with here on this side of our vast and variant prefecture.
It is under my impression that the Tobu region is much less visited by non-Tobu-residing JETS compared to central Gunma, but in fact there are many wonderful things to explore this way if you look! I have made it my personal mission to find these places and show them to anyone who might be interested. I am always willing to come out to Takasaki to connect with my fellow JET community (I am sure you have met me at various JET events!) but I would love to see more JET faces out here in Tobu as well.
Although I don’t have much experience with event planning, I am very excited and eager to work together with the rest of the council and plan some fun, cultural, jaw-dropping and record-breaking events! I have some experience performing for a couple of GAJET events such as I Can Japan and Art Share Night, and it was so much fun that I’d love to do more for these and other events next year! I love all things music and all things art, as well as decorating and the like, so I think I would be a great creative addition to the GAJET team. Thanks for your time. よろしくお願いします！
Tobu Representative – Sam Stock
Hi everyone, I am Sam and I am currently a first year ALT. I live in the quiet but lovely town of Tatebayashi. I am running for the position of Tobu representative in the GAJET election. Over the past ten months I have thoroughly enjoyed attending a variety of events held by both GAJET and JOMO JET. Now, I would love the opportunity to be a part of the action as a member of GAJET.
Living right on the edge of Gunma (Tatebayashi’s closest neighboring cities are in Saitama and Tochigi!) it sometimes feels like we are so far removed from the ALTs in the Takasaki and Maebashi area. As a Tobu representative, I want to bring everyone in the region a little closer together through organising regular events for the ALTs in Tobu. There are so many wonderful things to do in the Tobu region (beautiful Azaleas in Tatebayashi right now, lots of festivals)! It is sometimes difficult for Tobu ALTs to attend events in Takasaki/Maebashi, so I want to bring the fun to Tobu with lots of regional events and get togethers. I know there are people out there who have great ideas for more regular get togethers and if I am lucky enough to become the Tobu representative I hope to implement these plans.
Vote for me and I will aim to unite the Tobu ALTs! Also, I am from Australia and I have been told (by the other ALTs in Tatebayashi) that it’s great fun to mock the Australian words I say, what’s not to love about that?
Seibu Representative – Amy Adair
My name is Amy. Please vote for me to be one of the Seibu representatives because I am awesome.
At school and uni I really enjoyed helping organise various events. Also, I have been in Gunma for nearly 3 years, and I like to get out and about. So, I would try and post information about festivals etc as much as possible.
Also, I am sociable and always up for some banter and making new friends. So, if I became Seibu’s representative, I would be eager to hear people’s suggestions as well as have lots of fun.
“Let’s enjoy 2014/2015”
Seibu Representative – Hannah Croucher
I’m Hannah and I’ll be a third year JET come this August (hoooooly, where has the time gone?!) and would like to be a regional representative for Seibu this year. I’m from Christchurch New Zealand, which basically means I think you should vote for me in order to balance out all the Aussies who appear to be dominating in numbers. Just kidding*.
If for some reason this is not enough to instil confidence, be assured that I also like to party. And do fun things. Of many different kinds. And I also like to organise fun things. Which is great news for you. Because GAJET should be all about FUN. And having fun together. Because let’s face it, this crazy experience we call JET is a once in a lifetime opportunity. And I plan on treating it as such. Which for me, means maximising on lots of different experiences, Japanese and otherwise. I live in a tiny isolated village in the mountains and am the only ALT in the area, so GAJET events have been an important way for me to retain my sanity (or at least retain the same level of crazy as I was before I got here). Don’t get me wrong, I love working and living with Japanese people (or I wouldn’t have re-contracted twice already), but I also understand well the lows that can come from being a minority in a very different culture. Staying connected with the JET community is super important in getting you through those times. I feel very lucky to have been placed in Gunma where there is such a great, active social committee and I’m excited to see what this year is going to bring! Let’s karaoke!よろしくお願いします！
*not actually kidding.