With summer in full swing, we are once again approaching matsuri (festival) season. Within Gunma, the Takasaki matsuri is always a popular attration. This year, the festival will fall on August 4th and 5th. There’s no better way to enjoy the festival than with your fellow JETs. So let’s put on our yukatas, grab some delicious street food, and enjoy the fireworks!
If you would like to experience this event with your fellow JETs, please come out on August 4th to Takasaki Park (specific meeting spot TBD). Takasaki matsuri is usually a busy event; taking public transit is the recommended method of transportation. The park is just a 15 minute walk from Takasaki Station. GAJET will be gathering at Takasaki City Hall and heading towards the park at 6 PM. The fireworks are set to begin around 7:40 PM.
If you’ve attended GAJET events last year or are interested in attending any of our future events, we would love to hear from you! We’re asking for your opinion so that we can improve our service to you.
Enjoyed a particular event last year? Let us know!
Have an awesome idea for a new event? Let us know!
You’ve got questions, comments, and concerns? Let us know!
We want your opinion, so please fill out our survey (click here). It only takes a few minutes, and you’ll be helping improve the Gunma ALT community.
Greetings! My name is Devyn Couch, and I’m your friendly neighborhood GAJET president this year. Originally hailing from one of New Jersey’s many shore towns, I’m now entering my third year as a JHS JET in Tamamura. Before moving to Japan, I spent several amazing years teaching both general and special education at the elementary school level, so the jump to junior high was admittedly a little scary! However, I wouldn’t trade the connections I’ve made with my students and coworkers here for anything.
In my free time, you’ll often find me throwing myself headfirst into the many amazing events and beautiful natural spots that our humble cabbage patch has to offer (have you seen these mountains!?), pursuing various creative endeavors, and volunteering with different organizations in order to give back to the prefecture I now call home. One of the best things about Gunma is how friendly and supportive the community here is, so if you ever have any questions, need help with anything, or just want to say “hi”, please don’t hesitate!
Valerie Landers, Vice-President
Hi everyone! My name is Valerie. I grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland, in the Washington, DC area. Now I live in Tomioka and I’m going into my third year as a senior high school ALT. Linguistics and languages are my jam! I’m basically a tropical houseplant, thriving in the sun and warm temps Fahrenheit and Celsius. I enjoy jigsaw puzzles and the occasional novice hike. My favorite Gunma adventures include fireworks, gardens, cafes, and mountains. My mission is to show the world how awesome Gunma is, and make it more accessible to my fellow Gunma JETs. Welcome to Gunma!!!!
Luke McDaneld, Treasurer
Hello everyone, my name is Luke McDaneld. Originally from Lawrence, Kansas, I am now a 3rd year JHS/ES JET residing in Maebashi. This is my first year as a part of the GAJET committee, and I look forward to working as Treasurer with all the other members and the community at large to keep Gunma a great place to be an ALT.
When I’m not at school, you might find me at the local climbing gym, or enjoying Gunma’s great outdoor offerings like breathtaking mountain trails and soul-soothing onsen. I’m always looking forおやじギャグ or 諺if you have a good one, so when you see me out and about don’t hesitate to share! 宜しくお願い致します！
Alex Krause, Secretary
Hello everyone! My name is Alex Krause. I’m a second year American JET living in Takasaki. I’m honored to be your secretary this year. Originally from Western Pennsylvania, I’ve come to love our cabbage patch with all my heart and can’t imagine living anywhere else. I’m going to do my best this year to show you all the amazing gems Gunma has to offer.
I don’t really do the whole relaxing thing, so I try to keep busy as much as possible. I spend most weekends traveling around Gunma or surrounding prefectures with friends; my personal goal is to visit every Jomo Karuta spot before I finish JET. Whenever I’m not exploring, you’ll find me hanging around any of Takasaki’s delicious bakeries.
I’m also a firm believer in making the most of opportunities that come my way. I rarely ever say no to an invitation if I think it’ll lead to an awesome new experience, and that has only worked in my favor since being in Japan. That’s about the only little wisdom nugget I’d like to pass down to the next generation of ALTs, say yes to whatever you can! 一年よろしくね～
Gavin Au-Yeung, Editor
Heya, my name is Gavin and I’ll be editing the content on this site for the next year. I’m originally from Toronto, Canada, but now find myself teaching senior high school students in Isesaki. This year, I’m looking to spread the word of Gunma. To do this, I’ll need the help of Gunma ALTs to contribute their photos, stories, and experiences. I’m looking forward to sharing your messages!
Feel free to say “Hi” if you see me. I’m always interested in hearing about your own unique Gunma experience. Besides editing, you can also hunt me down to talk about basketball, video games, and photography.
Allan Tan, Webmaster
Ki Ora! My name is Allan Tan and I was born and raised in New Zealand. I’m currently a 2nd year JET, teaching at an elementary school in Shinmachi, Takasaki.
This year, as your Webmaster, I look forward to working alongside with the other members to improve and provide better services to the ALT community in Gunma.
When I’m not geeking around on my computer or working at school, you’ll find me in the ski fields during winter or on the courts playing volleyball and basketball throughout the year!
Feel free to spin a yarn anytime! 😀
Maja Thoenes, Seibu Rep
Hi everyone, I’m Maja Thoenes! I am originally from Huntsville, Alabama, USA, but I’ve called Tomioka home for the past year! I moved to Japan straight after finishing university where I studied literature and Japanese. I’m so excited to be on GAJET this year, and be a resource for both continuing and new JETs alike! Outside of school, I love joining my local communities for sports like hockey, running, badminton, and hiking, but I will never turn down an invitation to binge Netflix, either. I love making new friends, so please don’t hesitate to say hi or join me on an adventure!
Ciara Malone, Seibu Rep
Hello everyone! I’m Ciara and I’m a second year, elementary school JET in Yoshii, Takasaki. I’m from London, but spent my time before JET in sunny Scotland and swelteringly hot Singapore. This is my second time in Japan and my first year as a member of GAJET. During my first year in Japan, I have travelled from Okinawa to Hokkaido, attended Japan’s largest snow festival, been on the fastest and steepest rollercoasters in the world, performed my class in front of the Ambassador of Panama (randomly), and been in Gunma’s newspapers. Japan is an opportunity to get involved in a totally new environment, so take every moment that you can! As one of your two Seibu Representatives, I’m looking forward to planning some great events for you this year. Seibu is by far the largest area in Gunma and I’m excited to unite our (very large) community.
Tiffany Do, Tone/Agatsuma Rep
Hello! I’m Tiffany Do. I will be your Tone/Agatsuma Rep. This will be my third year as an elementary school ALT in Agatsuma. I teach at two small elementary schools, both with about 100 students in each. I am originally from California, so Gunma’s winter is still too cold for me! So during the winter you can probably find me in the onsen 7 days of the week! My goal for GAJET this year is to build a stronger ALT community, and bring everyone together. I want to be able to help put on amazing events and create beautiful memories. Let’s have a great year! I am looking forward to seeing everyone at our events!
Andy Cerecero, Tone/Agatsuma Rep
Hi y’all! My names Andy and I’m one half of the Agatsuma dream team duo! Hailing from a small city on the US/Mexico border in south Texas, I spend my days now in the lovely mountain village of Kuni! When I’m not teaching my elementary and junior high school students, I enjoy passing the time by playing the Taiko drums with the village Taiko crew, or playing my bass guitar at home. One of my favorite pastimes is listening to horror podcasts and I tend to listen to them often during my 1+ hour long drives around Gunma. My favorite food back home in Texas is Whataburger (ask me about it) and my favorite food in japan is Abura soba (油そば, also ask me about it). じゃね〜！
Edward Portillo, Chubu Rep
Hello Chubu and the rest of Gunma! My name is Edward Portillo and I am originally from Los Angeles, California. Currently I reside in Shibukawa, and depending on when you read this, I’ll be a second year JET. I arrived in Japan with the goal of seeing every prefecture before my tenure ends, and this means that on any given weekend, I’ll be indulging my wanderlust. I want to build connections between Gunma and our fellow JETs in other prefectures through my travels, and serving on GAJET will help me do just that. I enjoy movies, video games, and anime & manga. If I’m in Gunma, you can probably find me at the movie theater or the arcade. I also enjoy sports, and regularly play badminton, as well as participating in basketball and soccer tournaments in other prefectures. If you see me at an event, feel free to have a chat, I’d be more than happy to swap stories!
Jansen Magarro, Tobu Rep
Hey there! My name is Jansen. I come from one of the colder cities in Canada: Winnipeg and I currently live in one of the hottest cities in Japan: Tatebayashi. I am going into my fourth year on JET, teaching at the high school level. I spend most of my free time exercising, cooking, and complaining about the hot weather. On the weekends, you can usually find me hanging out with friends around Gunma or chilling in Tokyo. If you have any questions please give me a shout. I would love to hear from you!
Thank you so much to the big and outstanding group of people throwing their hats into the ring to join the next GAJET crew! You can vote right here from now until Thursday, June 21.
Devyn Couch (Tamamura), President
Hello, everyone! My name is Devyn Couch, a soon-to-be third year JET from Gunma’s very own Ball Village, Tamamura.
Having served as Chubu Representative for the past year, I’m eager to continue building our community with you all, this time as GAJET’s president. Having worked with and learned from the amazing members of this year’s committee, I’m looking forward to using that knowledge and experience in creating even more opportunities to get out and enjoy all that Gunma has to offer!
Some of my personal goals for this year are to provide more resources and support to incoming Gunma JETs (via the website, Facebook page, and other sources); coordinate more with our block to co-host regional events; and keep bringing you all both familiar and new events so we Gunma JETs can keep on doing what we do best–being one of the most tightly-knit ALT communities around!
Thank you for your time and consideration!
Valerie Landers (Tomioka), Vice President and Seibu Representative
Hi everyone! I’m Valerie, from the M of the DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia) of the United States. I’m going into my third year as an SHS ALT. I live in Tomioka, which sits in view of beloved Mounts Myogi and Asama. You can often find me on some Gunma excursion—driving up a mountain, scoping out a local cafe, snapping garden pics, or on whatever adventure the day calls for!
From my first Gunma Games two summers ago, GAJET events have been taking me to new experiences, folding me into our JET community. Ultimate Cabbage wasn’t the end! Art Share Nights, Canyons, and the fall Myogi hike pushed me past limits. I experienced how supportive our Gunma family is; they had my back as I shared poetry, careened down streams, and scrambled over mountain rocks.
As Vice President of GAJET I will support the President in building this community, working with the team to coordinate the events that bring us together. My modus operandi is, “Where there’s a will there’s a way.” I will make Gunma more accessible to my fellow JETs, so that we can better navigate this phenomenal prefecture in which we live, work, and play. Let’s do this!
Tiffany Do (Higashiagatsuma), Vice President or Agatsuma/Tone Representative
Hey Gunma ALTs!
Coming from the mountains of Agatsuma, I’m Tiffany Do, and I’m running for the positions of Vice President.
This past year, I’ve had the pleasure of being the Agatsuma Rep, and the experience has been extremely rewarding. It has been exciting watching all the events come to life and I would love to have a chance at that once again.
During my 1styear here, I attended many events held by GAJET and had a blast. Then as a 2ndyear, I had the pleasure of being on GAJET and played a part in organizing the events with a great group of people. Now nearing the start of my 3rdyear, I believe that I have an even better understanding of GAJET’s mission in creating a warm community for all the ALTs in Gunma.
I’m looking forward to an awesome year with many new memories to make!
Alex Krause (Takasaki), Secretary
When I first came to Gunma, I felt overwhelmed by the rush of names, faces, and information suddenly dumped on the new arrivals. It was difficult to keep track of all the people I’d met and the many upcoming events in the community. I didn’t know how to get involved with a variety of different things either.
Now that my second year on JET is approaching, I have found myself reflecting on what I will do from now. The recent Summer Conference really inspired me, as it was during that time that older and former JETs alike emphasized on how valuable the time spent on JET is. I made a personal vow that, during my remaining time in Gunma, I would do my best to give back to the loving community that had made this cabbage patch feel like home.
That is why I have decided to run for the secretary position.
I will utilize my strengths, which include strong organization, time management, and working well with others, to further GAGET’s goals. I hope that I can leave an impact on the future new ALTs so that they too can take comfort in the tight-knit support of the Gunma community.
Luke McDaneld (Maebashi), Treasurer or Chubu Representative
Hello everyone! I’m Luke McDaneld, and I’m running to be your next GAJET Treasurer. I’m a soon to be 3rd year JET currently residing in our lovely prefectural capital of Maebashi. When I’m not being used as a human jungle gym by nourishing Japan’s leaders of tomorrow at Hakoda-Chu and Shinden-sho, you might find me bouldering at Wall St. Gym, or hiking one of Gunma’s scenic mountains.
Why should I be your GAJET Treasurer? I bring the skills necessary to effectively assist GAJET in leading and providing for one of the most active and vibrant ALT communities in Japan. Before embarking on JET, I spent a year working in the actuarial department at a financial firm after completing a degree in Mathematics. I have also helped lead a presentation on budgeting and finance for ALT’s at our Summer Development Conference; and have the requisite mathematics and computer skills to efficiently carry out the duties of Treasurer.
Having been a beneficiary of the work GAJET has done in the past, it would be my honor to work with GAJET to continue making Gunma an excellent place to be an ALT in Japan. I hope you consider me worthy of the position of Treasurer!
Mathew Huynh (Kanra), Treasurer or Seibu Representative
What’s up Gunma! I’m Mathew, with one T or just call me Mat. I’m currently a first year from down under Melbourne, STRAYA, living in Kanra (Yay for Konnyaku Park). I would like to run for Treasurer and Seibu Rep.
Prior to packing my life away and hopping on to a plane, I have had experience dealing with event planning and keeping to a budget, whilst also leading and guiding a committee and team. I have co-organised small to large events as the President of my university’s Japanese club and even larger scaler events (Melbourne Summer Japanese Festivals). As a first year JET, attending GAJET had given the opportunity to meet fellow Gunmanians (Melbourne = Melbournians, had to call us that haha) and experience new worthwhile activities, I would like to enhance those events further for us to enjoy.
During winter, I like to hit the slopes. If there is no snow, I like to travel and experience Gunma and Japan. If I’m not traveling, you will see me stuffing my face at local cafes. I would like to share my experiences with you all.
Cheers for scrolling by!
Gavin Au-Yeung (Isesaki), Editor
Hello, beautiful people of Gunma! My name is Gavin (よろしくお願いします). I’m originally from Toronto, but now find myself living in Isesaki. When I’m not teaching high school students, you can find me playing basketball, bankrupting salad bars, or snapping pictures of Japan’s natural beauty (BTW follow me on IG @auyeunggavin).
I’m aiming to be the GAJET editor, as I believe there is much Gunma can offer. The community of JETs in Gunma is extremely vast. However, a community is only as strong as its member’s ability to communicate and share knowledge. As the GAJET editor, I would like to contribute to the ever-expanding pool of information. I love what GAJET is doing online now, but I see ways we could improve our reach. This means getting new and interesting content online and promoting a strong social media presence.
Last year, I remember reading the email informing me that I would be living in Gunma. I knew nothing about my new home at the time – as I’m sure many others can relate. But now, as community members, we have a chance exercise our voices to promote our wonderful cabbage patch!
Nikkita Kent (Ota), Editor
I believe I would be a great addition to the team as GAJET’s Editor. I have worked in a high-paced business environment where writing and editing was of the utmost importance, but so was helping others develop those skills. In my own time, I’ve written two novels (still seeking publication), blog posts, and short stories ranging from the impact of societal expectations to science fiction.
My goal as GAJET’s Editor would be to bring together writers from across the prefecture. Gunma has numerous JETs who write for blogs, friends, and fun. We have a community of untapped potential right here! Let’s shine the light on some of these talented individuals and increase community involvement by giving them a platform to showcase their work, not to mention the ability to share their experiences with other JETs.
I have a WordPress blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram already; therefore, I’m familiar with the technology required for the position. I’ve edited technical reports, resumes, and creative writing for myself and others. But most importantly, I feel that I can make an impact by bringing people together to share Gunma with the rest of the world – one article at a time.
Chris Sept (Maebashi), Editor
Greetings my fellow Gunma-llenials.
Septimus Entertainment Productions (in association with Septimus Inc.) is proud to present to you, me. Hi.
I will be rounding off my first year here in the bellybutton prefecture at the prestigious Maebashi Girl’s High School. When I am not scuttling about my business trying to coordinate energetic high school students, you can usually catch me DFA (down for anything). A myriad of strange comprehensions and skills lends nicely to randomly participating or volunteering at events.
Speaking of bizarre talents and desires, I want to be your GAJET Editor. Here’s the deal — I do a fair bit of writing. Been a bit of an addiction of mine. I used to get my fix during university as the Chief Editor of the school’s TV news show, the Beaver News. Or the SUPER Beaver News, when I was done with it. See, I am a bit of a people pleaser. Just ask any of my friends, and they’ll tell you how fun I am. Ask any of my non-friends that I have paid off, and they will tell you how fun AND generous I am.
In my short time in Gunma I have met several awesome people and participated in many fun events, both designed by and for the JET community as well as events put on by the locals. Did you get to see the Samurai Parade and musket demonstration? No? It was a blast. Literally.
After spending nearly a year in this awesome community, I think it is about time I use my considerable talent for writing, copyediting, social media ninjutsu, and eccentric charisma to give a little something back to the folks I have come to love. Er, in a strictly platonic way.
As GAJET Editor, I will put my attention to getting people involved and spreading the good Gunma word to newcomers and JETerans alike to generate some serious HYPE for this grand community of ours.
I look forward to serving you.
Andy Cerecero (Kuni Village), Agatsuma/Tone Representative
Howdy everyone! My name is Andy and I’m a soon to be second year JET from Texas, currently living in the beautiful mountain village of Kuni! With my newfound mountain life away from the city came a lot of newfound free time, and as such I would like to dedicate it to helping build the amazing JET community here in Gunma by serving as GAJET’s Agatsuma rep!
When I first moved to Kuni, I thought that I would never be able to form connections living so far out in the inaka. But thanks to my amazing Nakanojo and Agatsuma family that quickly changed, and with that came my introduction to GAJET and all the awesome things the organization does for us JETs! Being able to participate in events like Gunma Games and the Art Showcase helped me connect with so many people whom I know have the pleasure of calling friends. I want to help in building bridges for all the JETs here in Gunma which is why I want to represent Agatsuma. Agatsuma is one of Gunma’s many hidden treasures full of natural beauty and onsen… lots and lots of onsen. I want to be able to invite more JETs out to Agatsuma to be able to witness all it has to offer. Can you believe some Gunmites (Gunmies?) haven’t been to Kusatsu yet?! I’d love to foster more growth and friendship between Gunma JETs by having joint events with the other regions!
All in all, I want to pay the kindness and warmth I received forward by serving you all to the best of my ability! Yoroshiku onegaishimas y’all! And thank you.
Edward Portillo (Shibukawa), Chubu Representative
When I came to Japan on JET, one of the goals I set was to travel to every single prefecture. So far I’ve had the opportunity to visit 14 of them, and I’m looking forward to more. Every prefecture I visit has unique and fun things about it, sometimes that means festivals, sometimes that means great sights to see, but it almost always means a fun JET community with great things going on. I want to be able to share all the great things we have here in Gunma, here in Chubu, with the rest of Japan, and in return, bring back the best things to you from all corners of country. Whether it’s sports tournaments or theater performances, there’s so much out there we can learn from.
As your rep, not only will I be here in Chubu, having fun events, helping out GAJET, and helping each of you however I can, but I’ll also be using my travels to connect us to fellow JETs and other communities across Japan. A vote for me is a vote for fresh ideas, new connections, and lots of adventure, so let’s go explore together!
‘Ohayo～. I’m Ciara from the UK going into my second year as an Elementary School teacher in Yoshii (basically, the middle of a rice field). I’m hoping to become your Seibu rep for the next year! I’ve had an incredible time getting to know as many of you as I could, and am looking forward to meeting you new JETs as well! Without the strong community that Gunma has, my time in Japan would have been half the experience that it was, and we are lucky to have such a tight-knit community in our prefecture.
I have spent almost all my time in Japan either participating or running my own events. Whether it’s jetting off to Japan’s largest snow festival or eating too much BBQ at Kannonyama Family Park, I have spent almost every Monday since I arrived in Japan recovering from fun. GAJET organises some of the best events of the year, including Gunma Games (sei-no, Seibu!) and Minakami Canyons, and I am looking forward to lending a helping hand. But, I also want the opportunity to introduce some events of my own, such as welcome parties, pub quizzes, BBQs, hiking trips, camping, and more. If you, the community, have any more suggestions, let’s make them happen!
(P.S. a vote for Ciara is a vote for fun!)’
Maja Thoenes (Tomioka), Seibu Representative
Hi, friends! I’m Maja Thoenes, an upcoming 2nd year JET in Tomioka! Originally from Alabama, USA, I enjoy climbing mountains, binge-watching Netflix, and dominating at onigokko.
Whether or not I’d be able to make real friends in Gunma was the biggest fear I had when I first moved to Japan. However, (as we all know firsthand) the ALT community here is unlike any other, and the hard work of the passionate, relationship-oriented GAJET members is a part of what maintains our Gunma standard. This year, I’d like to help further our mission as your Seibu Representative!
In university, I planned weekly dinner outings for foreign exchange students, organized Frisbee games, and mentored future study abroad students. As your Seibu Rep, I would love the opportunity to assist and support incoming and current JETs, while organizing regional events that grow ALT relationships as tall and strong as our mountains!
One of the many things I love about Gunma is its balance between city life and nature. As the Seibu Rep, my goal is to organize one hiking or outdoor activity per month, in addition to several karaoke outings, onsen excursions, marathons, and movie nights throughout the year. If elected, I look forward to being a source of positive energy to our GAJET community and helping people from all over the area make our experiences in Gunma unforgettable.
Jansen Magarro (Tatebayashi), Tobu Representative
Hey Gunma JETs!
My name is Jansen Magarro and I am Senior High School ALT from Canada going into my 4th year on the JET programme. I currently reside in Tatebayashi: a place where the Tanuki roams freely, the udon noodles are as big as sheets of paper, and thermometers explode.
I have helped organize a number of regional and Gunma-wide events for GAJET as the Tobu Representative this past year and I am hoping to continue to contribute with the 2018-2019 committee.
Prior to joining the JET programme, I held several positions within the Canadian banking industry and Federal Government. During my time at these institutions, I assisted in organizing team building events and casual get-togethers. Furthermore, I led and organized many recreational sports teams over the years.
A hobby of mine is traveling. As most of you know, traveling takes a great deal of planning and coordination. By using these skills that I’ve acquired through my journeys around the world, I feel that I could utilize these abilities and use them to bring together the ALTs within Gunma and the Tobu region.
I look forward to the upcoming year.
And that’s it! Remember to cast your votes via the google doc, which can be accessed through this link. Voting is open now until Thursday, June 21. Thanks so much!
My name is Mikhail Ryan Pinyo, but most people call me Misha. I’m originally from the west coast of the USA, but I currently live in Maebashi. I want to contribute to a thriving and supportive community wherever I go, and so far GAJET has allowed me to do just that, so I’m really excited to start my third year on the committee. When I’m not teaching Senior High School or planning events you can find me playing musical instruments, exploring Japan’s beautiful mountain onsen, and charting my slow journey across the world.
If you see me at one of our events, don’t be shy–say hi!
Hello fellow JETs! My name is Paola Torres. I am a J.H.S. ALT in the city of Shibukawa, the bellybutton of Japan. I was born in Colombia but lived half of my life in Miami; you can tell by my warm personality and bright smile. I don’t quite have any hobbies but my personal objective for this year is to take the JLPT N2 with confidence. I wish for you to enjoy meeting people here in Gunma at any of our events as I did during my first year in JET. You’ll make friends for life and maybe you will be the ones planning these events next year.
Hope to see you soon!
My name is Talisha Vernon. I’m from Fairfax, Virginia but I mostly tell people I am from Washington DC. I currently live in Takasaki teaching high school. I am starting my fourth year on JET serving as GAJET’s secretary, and I am excited to give back to our community and enjoy the many events GAJET puts on throughout the year. In my free time, well…I don’t have much free time with one year old twins. I like to karaoke, film adventures with my family and take as many purikuras as I can.
Hello! I’m Abby, and I’m a second year SHS Jet living in Takasaki. I am from lake-y Michigan via windy Chicago, where I worked as a florist and creative writing teacher before Japan beckoned. We’ve got a first-rate community out here in Gunma, and I am glad to be working with GAJET to bring people together and encourage everyone to be the interesting individuals they are. I like road trip sing-alongs, existentialist drama, onsen, and falling down rabbit holes of academic research. Come talk to me about your cooking techniques, your favorite punctuation, and your general hopes and dreams. May they all come true, and may we have many happy times together under the Gunma skies!
My name is Josh Frankle, and I’m a third-year SHS ALT in Kiryu! I was born in Japan, and raised all over the Pacific and the US. I’m really excited to be a part of the growing JET community in Gunma. It really is wonderful to be able to contribute to such a large and close-knit group such as ours. As for me, I enjoy both the indoors and outdoors – whether that be board game nights or hiking in Oze. I’m by no means an expert of Gunma, but if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to ask. Looking forward to meeting and getting to know you!
G’day everyone!! How ya goin’? My name is Jesse Britto, but people usually call me Gary. Just kidding… that would just be silly. I am from the land down under, also known as Australia, more specifically Perth!
I moved to Japan around one year ago and continue to fall in love with it more every day. I am located in an amazing town called Tomioka. It is surrounded by views of mountains and I can’t get enough of the delicious food! This year I have decided to join GAJET as a representative for Seibu as I really want both older and newer JET’s to experience what I have been lucky enough to experience over this past year. In my first year on JET I was teaching at one elementary and one junior high school, but from this year I will be at three elementary schools. When I am not at school crushing life with the teachers and students, I am usually running around doing things in my local community. My week usually consists of hockey, Taiko, other assorted sports, Vegemite eating competitions and paragliding.
Anyway, enough about me! When you see my amazing face in Gunma, please don’t hesitate to come and say hello and introduce yourself! Give me your best Aussie accent, unless you’re Aussie…. that’s totally cheating. Cheers.
Hello and welcome to Gunma, friends! My name is Devyn Couch, and I’m currently GAJET’s representative for Chubu region. Originally hailing from one of New Jersey’s many shore towns, I’m now entering my second year as a JHS JET in Tamamura. Before moving to Japan, I spent several amazing years teaching both general and special education at the elementary school level, so the jump to junior high was admittedly a little scary! However, I wouldn’t trade the connections I’ve made with my students and coworkers here for anything.
In my free time, you’ll often find me throwing myself headfirst–sometimes literally!–into the many amazing events and beautiful natural spots (have you seen these mountains!?) that our humble cabbage patch has to offer, pursuing various creative endeavors, and volunteering in different capacities in order to give back to the prefecture I now call home. One of the best things about Gunma is how friendly and supportive the community here is, so if you ever have any questions, need help getting settled, or just want to say “hi”, please don’t hesitate!
My name is Jansen Magarro, I am a Canadian JET going into my 3rd year. Currently, I am an ALT at two senior high schools in Tatebayashi. This is my first year being a part of GAJET and I’m really excited to share what our group, community, and Japan has to offer. During my free time you can find me in Tokyo, exercising, or buying groceries.
Apparently everyone pronounces the word “bag” wrong. Come see me and I’ll teach your the correct way to say it.
Hi everyone! My name is Tiffany Do, but please, call me Tiff. Before moving to the beautiful mountains of Agatsuma, I lived in sunny California all my life. (My first winter here was tough!) This will be my first year on the committee and I am excited to be able to provide as much assistance as I can, as well as get to know more fellow ALTs. During the week, you can find me teaching at kindergartens and elementary schools. But once the work is over, I’ll be playing in my local taiko group, soaking in all the onsens Gunma has to offer, and enjoying my surroundings!
Here are the nominations for your upcoming GAJET committee! Please read each platform carefully and vote by clicking the link below. If you are unsure of the tasks each role must fulfill then check out the nominations page. Voting is open now until Friday, June 9th at 8 p.m.!!!
Misha Pinyo (Maebashi) – President
Hello fellow Gunmarians! My name is Misha and I’m running for President. When I’m not teaching at Mae-Nishi and Haruna High Schools, you can find me learning new musical instruments, exploring Japan’s beautiful mountain onsen, and planning my slow journey across the world. I believe that I have the experience and skills necessary to lead the GAJET team into another successful year. This August will mark the end of my third year on the JET program, and my second year on the GAJET council. Two years ago I was a Chubu Representative, and this year I was on the executive board as Webmaster. In addition to GAJET, I am also a member of the JOMO JET council, which seeks to create spaces for grassroots intercultural exchange. Also, for a second year running I will be assisting new JETs as they adjust to life in Japan as part of the Gunma Orientation Committee. I also have experience outside of the Gunma community. I have taken courses in conflict resolution and communication, and I have lived in intentional communities. In those communities we held regular meetings, and made decisions through consensus (vs. “majority rules”), which taught me how to collaborate effectively in a group, and how to find common goals. As for my platform, I have a few ideas as to what direction the new committee should head in: Simplify Event Timeline: In years past GAJET had held a plethora of major events, one right after the other at the beginning of the contract season, with relatively few towards the end. As president I plan on committing to 8 major events spread throughout the year; this will reduce the amount of stress for GAJET members, while insuring that the community has a chance to enjoy big events more consistently. I would also like to bring back the practice of holding small, informal regional events like “family dinners,” hikes, festival walks, and movie nights, depending on the availability of regional representatives. Schedule Meetings & Events Early: As for logistics, I would also like to ensure that all major events and meetings for the entire year have an estimated date from the very start, and have these dates shareable to everyone via Google Calendar. Doing this early on will increase the number of people who can attend our events, and will clear up confusion when it comes to scheduling meetings. I would also propose that there be one mandatory meeting per month; 8 meetings would be online and last exactly 1 hour, and 4 meetings would be in person and last exactly 2 hours. In person meetings would be held at or before major events since most GAJET members attend such events anyways. Make Finances Transparent: GAJET is a non-profit organization, but a certain amount of cash flow is needed to insure the safety and logistics of events, as well as to provide equipment and services that the broader community can use. I would make sure that GAJETs cash on hand is never too low or two high, and that balances and expenses are made transparent to the community. Most importantly, I’m running because I want to contribute to a thriving and supportive community wherever I go. We are incredibly lucky in Gunma to have such an active and supportive AJET, and I firmly believe that it is an indispensable part of our little cabbage patch. I want to do my part to make sure that this support stands strong for current and future generations of JET participants. Thank you for your time, Misha
Paola Torres (Shibukawa) – Vice President
Hello Everyone! My name is Paola Andrea Torres and I would like to run as the GAJET Vice President . During my first year in JET, I was very impressed with all the hard work the Senpai JETs put together to coordinate and plan such fun events. This past year, I was able to join the GAJET team as a Chubu Representative and I experienced first hand how the magic happens! It was a lot of fun to work alongside such motivated and driven members. So I would like to join this wonderful team once again as the Vice President. I am a very charismatic and friendly. And I will do my outmost best to support the president and lead any new GAJET members. As well as being a beacon for any new JET in Gunma. Let’s have another amazing year full of fun events in Gunma! Paola Torres
Josh Frankle (Kiryu) – Treasurer & Tobu Rep
I’m Josh Frankle, and am running once again to be a member of GAJET! I’m a third-year JET living in Kiryu in the Tobu region. Over the last year as a Tobu rep, I have organized and helped lead various regional events and a number of Gunma-wide events too! I have the desire to help contribute and make our community even better this year. With the experience of having been your Tobu rep, this year I would like to take it a step further and join the executive board as the Treasurer of GAJET. I look forward to another year in our cabbage patch!
Talisha Vernon (Takasaki) – Secretary & Treasurer
Hi Gunma JETs! I’m Talisha Vernon and I’m going into my fourth year as an ALT. I’m from “Washington DC” (and if you are also from “Washington DC” you know that I am not really from Washington DC) AKA Virginia and now I live in Takasaki. When I’m not teaching at Chou Secondary School, I can often be found running after my twin babies, singing current pop songs with a 40’s twist, exploring local and national world heritage sites with my family and making (very infrequently) travel YouTube videos. In my years here in Gunma, I have experienced many of Gunma’s JET events, from cannoning to performing at I CAN JAPAN and Art Night to even leading and teaching the Cha-Cha Slide to a everyone at JOMO JET’s International Carnival. As you can see, Gunma JET community is very active and puts on all sorts of events for everyone to enjoy. As you can imagine, twins can be a handful but I think I have gotten everything under control and organized. I have been on the Gunma Orientation Committee for two years now and presented on variety of topics at many conferences over the years. As either Secretary or Treasurer I could use the skills I use daily and apply it to the GAJET community. This year, I’m feel ready to use my experience to create event, get involve and bridge the gap between JETs, non-JETs, and the locals in our Gunma community.
Mandy Brixey (Shimonita) – Secretary & Seibu Rep
Hello! My name is Mandy Brixey and I’m in the beloved city of Shimonita, right at the end of the Joshin Line! Can’t miss it! The positions running for are: Secretary and Seibu Representative! As the only ALT in my town, I really want to reach out to my fellow Gunmanites! I have held student council positions in the past in middle school, high school, and college. I started my own groups, (Anime Club and Japanese Conversation Club, respectively) I enjoyed working closely with my fellow members and definitely felt a sense of pride that came with the responsibilities I had. I currently run 2 English conversation classes, and do a board game event once a month! As a soon to be 2nd year JET, I feel I have greatly matured and also improved my problem solving skills. So no matter the position, I know I can handle responsibilities with ease and can tackle any problems that come my way! If elected, I will use my creativity, bubbly personality, ideas and combine them with others in order to help create new and exciting events, as well as doing my best to help incoming and current JETs in my region!
Devyn Couch (Tamamura) – Editor & Chubu Rep
Friends, strangers, Gumarians, lend me your…well, eyes, I suppose, as you’re reading rather than listening to this! My name is Devyn Couch, and I’m a soon-to-be second year JHS JET in Ball Village, a.k.a. Tamamura. Originally from the frenetic coastline punk scene of NJ, you’ll often find me out and about, meeting people and throwing myself headfirst (sometimes literally) into any and all events happening around this amazing prefecture of ours! Over the past year, I’ve learned that while Gunma has some of the best onsen and most beautiful natural spots in Japan (have you SEEN these mountains!?), it’s really the people that make living here so wonderful. Volunteering at events organized by GAJET and JOMO JET (I CAN Japan, International Carnival, etc.) has shown me just how welcoming, tight-knit, and enthusiastic this community is. Three cheers for nakama in the inaka! As such, I’d like to pay the positivity I’ve experienced here forward by joining GAJET as Editor and Chubu Rep. In both positions, I’ll continue to spread the word of GLORIOUS GUNMA™ via the magic of modern technology—e.g. the Interwebs and social media. By keeping everyone up-to-date on happenings, hidden gems, and Gunma-related life hacks, my goal is to bring people together and help them make the most of their time here in our humble cabbage patch. TL;DR—I’ve got many ideas, and the energy and experience to make them a reality. I’ve held various long-term leadership positions (including an editorship for my school’s literary magazine), have a way with words, the drive to learn new things, and a knack for getting people out of their homes. If elected to GAJET, I promise to put these skills to good use to help make our community even better for all of its members. Thank you for your consideration!
Abby Ryder-Huth (Fujioka) – Editor
Tiffany Do (Higashiagatsuma Town) – Agatsuma Rep
Hello, everyone! My name is Tiffany Do and I’m from sunny California! Now, you can find me in Higashiagatsuma as a soon-to-be 2nd year Elementary School ALT. “Where is that?” I’m sure you’re all thinking, like many Japanese people would ask. Well, it’s in the western part of Gunma, where Kusatsu is located! But, I hope to change that as the Agatsuma Rep, and show you other amazing places this region has to offer. During my 1st year, I had the pleasure being guided around Gunma, and was shown the beauty it has to offer by wonderful senpais. I also had a lot of fun attending many GAJET coordinated events. As a 2nd year JET, I want to be able to repay that same hospitality and help create great memories in Gunma for my fellow ALTs. I hope to work with the other members of GAJET to organize the events that you all enjoy and bring all ALTs in Gunma together. I also hope to be a resource to the incoming ALTs and help them with life in Japan. Thank you for your time~
Jesse Brito (Tomioka) – Seibu Rep
G’day everyone! For those who do or don’t know me, I’m Jesse Britto. I am currently in my first year on JET and am applying for the position of Seibu rep for the 2017 – 2018 period. I arrived around July late last year from Perth, Australia and am currently teaching at a JHS and an ES whilst living it up in the amazing town of Tomioka! (That’s right, it is where the world famous silk mill is!) I remember when first arriving in Japan I was still so unsure of what kind of lifestyle I would have in Tomioka. I researched a lot, but all that really came up was the Tomioka Silk Mill and pictures of old buildings, so to be honest I was a little worried. But, I remember the first drive in from Maebashi with my supervisor and seeing the mountains. SO MANY PRETTY MOUNTAINS! (Perth is basically a really really flat desert with a few trees, sort of). I was ready to begin my journey in Tomioka! Now, let me tell you about me and why I am applying for this position. As I said earlier I am still a newbie within Gunma, but I have a lot to share. In the short time I have been here I have traveled around a lot, specifically more around where I live. My main goal as a Seibu rep would be to organise many different events within the Seibu region to help educate other Gunma… nites.. (definitely the technical word for people who live in Gunma) about the lesser known and visited parts of my region. If you choose me as your rep, I would be so excited to show you all of the hidden gems you have been missing out on! On a side note, I’m good at cooking and I can play guitar sort of, so if this helps sway your decision, I’m all for that. Thanks for reading through whatever this was. Vote Jesse!
Jansen Magarro (Tatebayashi) – Tobu Rep
Hey Gunma JETs! My name is Jansen Magarro and I am going into my 3rd year on the JET programme. I come from the land where rivers of maple syrup flow, polar bears are a constant threat, and -20 degree Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) is sweater weather. I am currently a Senior High School ALT in the hottest place in Japan, Tatebayashi. (Ironic, eh?). I’ve participated in many events organized by GAJET. These events were always a great time and because of that I have been inspired to run for Tobu Regional Representative. Prior to joining the JET programme, I held different positions within the Canadian banking industry and government. During my time at these institutions I assisted in organizing team building events and casual get togethers. Furthermore, I lead and organized many recreational sports teams over the years. A hobby of mine is traveling. As most of you know, traveling takes a great deal of planning and co-ordination. Using these skills that I’ve acquired through my journeys around the world, I feel that I could utilize these abilities and use them to bring together the ALTs within the Tobu region. Within the Tobu region, there are 9 cities where ALTs reside. These are 9 opportunities to showcase what Tobu is all about. As your Tobu Regional Representative, I would like to take advantage of each one of our cities and hold monthly gatherings to learn about each other and the communities we live in. Arigathanks Gozaimuch!
This is the end of candidate platforms for 2017-2018. Next,