The GAJET 2011-2012 Committee

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With the official start of the Japanese summer season already behind us you could be left wondering, “Where did the year go?” But as the heat of summer approaches, here comes a cool bunch who’ll be your GAJET Committee for 2011-2012.

Already, GAJET is planning events so that ALTs from all corners of the cabbage patch can get together. We’re also here to give what help we can when you’re in a jam.

Between us, we should know a thing or two about your neighbourhood. So if you need local advice, or if you find yourself lost and lonely in a new part of our pleasant prefecture, give us a shout.

Here’s how your new Committee looks…

President – Jessie Zanutig

Jessie Zanutig
From:
Calgary, AB Canada.
Where I live: Way up north in Kawaba Village.
About my schools: One wee Junior High & Elementary school.
My hobbies: Shredding down snowy mountains atop a single wooden plank, snapping photos, cooking, yoga.
My favourite place in Gunma: Plopped naked in an onsen in the mountains around Minakami, or the view from the very top of Kawaba Ski Resort.
My favourite moment from school life so far: Tagging along on the school trip to Yokohama to learn about the ‘dangers of imported foods’ is one of my best memories. When the 3rd grade boys ran topless around the school with “I love Jessie” written on their backs comes in a close second.
What I know now that I wish I knew when I first arrived in Japan: Don’t finish your school lunch – it’ll make you fat! Costco is heaven. Futon driers don’t make a good bed-heater in the winter – injuries will result.
Get in touch: [email protected] 080 1047 3177

Vice President – Emma Evans

Emma Evans
From:
South Wales, UK.
Where I live: Takasaki.
About my schools: Chuo Secondary School & Takasaki Girls’ High School.
My hobbies: Skiing and snowboarding in winter, languages & travel, I enjoy listening to music and watching films… with my friends, after school.
My favourite place in Gunma: The mountains.
My favourite moment from school life so far: Students’ skits.
What I know now that I wish I knew when I first arrived in Japan: Wearing a suit everyday really isn’t necessary… nor is bringing a suitcase full of omiyage for student prizes! This would have saved a lot of stress when packing below the 20kg weight limit! Knowing more Japanese beforehand… or any, actually, would have been beneficial, but it is not impossible to survive. You soon learn how to communicate without the Japanese language and at the same time dramatically improve your theatrical techniques so that you could almost be in line for an Oscar nomination.
Get in touch: [email protected] 080 3205 3554

Secretary – Kaitlin T Kirby

Kaitlin Kirby
From:
America! Seattle, Washinton.
Where I live: Takasaki.
About my schools: One Junior High school.
My hobbies: Snowboarding, wakeboarding, hiking, scrambling, sailing, swimming, live music.
My favourite place in Gunma: Atop a mountain.
My favourite moment from school life so far:
Me: “Everyone, please write a nicname, any nicname, anything is okay.”
Student: Writes ‘Mister Nabe’.
Me: “Oh, ‘Mister Nabe’ that’s fun.”
Student: Changes ‘Mister’ to ‘Master’.
Me: “You are now: Master Nabe!”
Student: Adds ‘-chan’ to the end of his nicname.
Me: “Aw that’s cute! ‘Master Nabe-chan'”.
Student: Puts his finger over the ‘Na’ in ‘Nabe’ and looks up at me waiting for me to read his new and improved name…
Me: “Masterbe-chan!… I mean, what?! No. No!… haha okay good one, you got me.”
What I know now that I wish I knew when I first arrived in Japan: I wish someone had told me not to bother bringing high heals! I’m already a giant in Japan.
Get in touch: [email protected]

Social Chair – Claire Kelly

Claire Kelly
From:
The middle (MB), the East (NB) and the West (BC), Canada.
Where I live: Annaka!
About my schools: One junior high school and three elementary schools. I taught at a fourth school with 7 students – the smallest in Gunma! It closed in April ’11 when 2 graduated and staff out-numbered students.
My hobbies: Hanging with my kids at bukatsu, listening to podcasts, snapping a million pictures on my iPhone, but rarely posting them, reading, running, taiko and collecting ikemen phone numbers.
My favourite place in Gunma: Matsuida (but a close second is Mets Club, Isesaki).
My favourite moment from school life so far: Recents include autographing multiple pencil cases and breaking it down to AKB48 with a genki 5th grader during school lunch.
What I know now that I wish I knew when I first arrived in Japan: Dear past self, Instead of spending three weeks bored out of your mind at the BOE everyday, ask to spend some time at your school! As soon as the year begins, it’s a whirlwind, and you get so stressed you develop hives. No one likes those, especially in 35 degree weather. Get to school and talk to JTEs about class ideas. Oh, and don’t stress about creating every lesson from scratch! Websites like Sendai Edu exist to give you a hand.
Get in touch: [email protected] 080 4166 5191

Webmaster – Greg Morrison

Greg Morrison
From:
UK.
Where I live: Isesaki.
About my schools: One Junior High school.
My hobbies: Snowboarding, hiking, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, sleeping.
My favourite place in Gunma: Up in the mountains somewhere.
My favourite moment from school life so far: “Mr. Greg, what does this mean?” after being politely handed “f***ing beautiful” on a piece of paper.
What I know now that I wish I knew when I first arrived in Japan: They weren’t joking about the August temperatures here – bring a lightweight summer suit!
Get in touch: [email protected] 080 3319 3056

Editor – Keith Watson

Keith Watson
From:
Edinburgh, Scotland.
Where I live: In the shadow of Isesaki’s crazy roller-coaster and big wheel.
About my schools: One Junior High school.
My hobbies: Scaring the local wildlife as I run along Isesaki’s riversides in my lycra, picnicing in Shinjuku Gyoen or Yoyogi Park, cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Zombie movies. WINE!
My favourite place in Gunma: Kusatsu in winter. The beautiful town centre is a magical scene. Head along to Ohtakinoyu Onsen and enjoy the outdoor bath as snowflakes tumble all around you.
My favourite moment from school life so far: School sports day. I was told to wear my suit for speech contest in the afternoon. When I arrived at school suited up I was told I was running. I did it, in the 38 degree heat… and I didn’t come last against a group of 14 year old athletes!
What I know now that I wish I knew when I first arrived in Japan: Start training now for cycling against Gunma’s winter winds!
Get in touch: [email protected] 080 4338 3433

Treasurer – Chris De Borja

Chris De Borja
From:
San Francisco, California.
Where I live: Takasaki.
About my schools: Two Elementary Schools.
My hobbies: Studying Japanese and creating English boards.
My favourite place in Gunma: I can’t pick a specific place because all of Gunma is awesome!
My favourite moment from school life so far: Having students yell my name when they see me walking in the hallway and playing with the badminton club after school!
What I know now that I wish I knew when I first arrived in Japan: Bring more omiyage, especially things like stickers for the students because they eat that stuff up like it’s candy!
Get in touch: [email protected] 080 3444 4261

Chubu Rep – Kelsey Trentzsch

Committee officer Colorado's Kelsey, She's undeniably Chubu's kindest ever rep. With help offered readily everyday, fearful anxieties can easily diminish, so let's unwind together!
From:
Boulder, Colorado.
Where I live: In the Las Vegas of Japan: Isesaki.
About my schools: One Senior High School.
My hobbies: Travelling to avoid getting a big kid job, reading canonical novels to keep up to snuff for my future big kid job as an English Lit teacher, exploring the majestic corners of Gunma and the surrounding prefectures, camping, skiing and hiking, unveiling the classy sides of Isesaki, taking photos to make friends and family understand why I moved to this weird little country, and I can’t lie… I freaking love nomihoudi (all you can drink).
My favourite place in Gunma: That’s a tough call between Kusatsu, Mets Club, Mt. Myogi, and the Tsumagoi area.
My favourite moment from school life so far: When I get to see my students’ real personalities. They have been hilariously inappropriate. It makes me laugh every time I hear them say something they know they shouldn’t. You want an example? A girl asked, in a survey to all 40 of her peers, “Which do you like best, small bust or Kelsey’s bust?” We continued to talk about the subject for the remainder of the class.
What I know now that I wish I knew when I first arrived in Japan: If the police ever stop you (in your car or on your bike), no matter how much Japanese you or your friends speak, always act like you don’t even know what ‘konichiwa’ means. It will save you a ticket almost every time.
Get in touch: [email protected] 080 3475 3133

Chubu Rep – Ashley McRae

Ashley McRae
From:
Christchurch, New Zealand.
Where I live: Maebashi.
About my schools: One Junior High school, two Elementary Schools.
My hobbies: Travelling, camping, water skiing, eating lots of ice cream!
My favourite place in Gunma: Yet to be decided…
My favourite moment from school life so far: Playing cops and robbers with my ES students at lunchtime.
What I know now that I wish I knew when I first arrived in Japan: How hot it really gets in Summer.
Get in touch: [email protected] 080 4366 1622

Tobu Rep – Robin Stafford

Robin Stafford
From:
Texas.
Where I live: Kiryu.
About my schools: One High school.
My hobbies: Ikebana, Shodo and other various artsy things.
My favourite place in Gunma: Watarase River. Kiryu is lovely from any of its bridges, especially at sunset after it’s rained and the clouds are calming.
My favourite moment from school life so far: I really enjoyed our Sports Festival last year, but I’m looking forward to the Cultural Festival this year. My English club is working so hard on things for it.
What I know now that I wish I knew when I first arrived in Japan: How to plan lessons, but that comes with experience. You don’t know what level your students are at when you first arrive and you might make things way too hard or easy for them. I would tell myself to chill and not worry too much about having ‘stagefright’ in front of a class. Teaching is different from acting or singing and your audience is small. The level of eagerness may vary from class to class, but most students want to do well and will give you the benefit of the doubt. A lot of us only get to see each class once in a while, so having the ALT in class is a treat for them. Teach them, but have fun with it, and they’ll probably have fun, too!
Get in touch:
[email protected]

Seibu Rep – Allen Bo Agunday

Allen Bo Agunday
From:
Toronto, Canada.
Where I live: Fujioka City.
About my schools: Junior High, elementary and kindergarden.
My hobbies: Film-making, photography, martial arts, shameless plug: my blog.
My favourite place in Gunma: Sakurayama Park in my city of Fujioka. It is a beautiful park on top of a mountain that has 5,000 rare cherry blossoms that bloom in the winter.
My favourite moment from school life so far: The sports festival at my school last year. Sports festivals at Junior Highs are a ton of fun because they do all sorts of awesome and quirky group activities, so be sure to join if you get the chance.
What I know now that I wish I knew when I first arrived in Japan: I don’t have any regrets, but I do have a few bits of advice to pass onto the noobies…
1. Get involved with GAJET. Don’t be a stranger. Come out to our events, have fun and let us get to know you!
2. Learn some basic kanji as quickly as possible and make it a priority to study Japanese.
3. Make the most of it. You’ll get as much out of the JET experience as you put in. It’s the ‘golden week’ of your life!
Get in touch: [email protected]

Seibu Rep – Chelsea Reid

Chelsea Reid
From:
Calgary, Canada.
Where I live: Takasaki.
About my schools: Three high schools in Takasaki. Low level students can be difficult but are the most fun to teach!
My hobbies: Music, movies, hunting and seizing cute things, and travel. Trying new things in Gunma. In the future, it is my goal to obtain a high level of education so that I may be free to pursue a career in professional napping.
My favourite place in Gunma: I haven’t seen it all yet! But the caves in Ueno-mura are a must-see.
My favourite moment from school life so far: One of my students made me a tiny origami crane, no bigger than a sesame seed.
What I know now that I wish I knew when I first arrived in Japan: Where the good bars are. When I walked into a yakuza bar by mistake and everyone turned around to look at me standing pitifully in the doorway. Uncomfortable silence. I weighed my options and settled on giving a double thumbs-up, and asked to come inside like a boss, but I was promptly shooed away.
Get in touch: [email protected]

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