Today I would like to share about one of the things I have been participating in while in the JET program, which is the Special Interest Group for Asian Pacific Islanders also known as API AJET.
In the JET Program there are many special interest, nationality, and language groups which have a “direct affiliation with National AJET” and are meant to help connect JETs across Japan who have similar interests. For example, JET Christian Fellowship, Stonewall Japan, JETs of African Descent, VegJet etc. There are also other hobby/interest groups such as JET Gaming, JET Photography Club, JET Ladies, Professional Development for JETs and many more.
While I have followed the Facebook page of many of these interest groups, I am currently active in the API AJET Group as a “Block” representative. In the JET Program, JETs are split up into 11 blocks based on location. I am located in Kumamoto and am the representative for Block 11 (in grey).
As posted on the group’s Facebook page:
The mission of the Asian Pacific Islander Association for Japan Exchange and Teaching (API AJET) is to provide peer support for the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community in Japan as well as to raise local and global awareness about the diverse range of issues that this community faces. The group is open to any and all who wish to share experiences and/or promote cross-cultural understanding through discussions, events, activities, etc.
As a block representative, so far I have mostly just participated in our monthly group video call to discuss different activities the group wants to pursue and also to help plan our National Meet-Up. Since all of the JETs are so far spread out in Japan, a lot of the activities are done online on Facebook.
We have different committees and that committee that I am in focuses on providing resources related to being API in Japan, teaching, job-hunting in Japan etc. Usually we have a post of the week with resources and also a post of the week with a discussion question. I believe that makes up a majority of the activities besides member recruitment until the National Meet-Up.
This year the meet-up is being held in Nagoya during the first weekend of Golden Week. Since Golden Week is a huge holiday in Japan and most people are traveling, it will just be a small group of about 5 members, but I hope that it will still go well. This is the general itinerary for this year’s Meet-Up. In the past the events have also been held in Tokyo and Osaka.
I hope to post an update on how the Meet-Up goes after the Golden Week madness settles down and I go back to work for the long holiday-less months of June and July.
Living and working in Japan is already a bit of a challenge as is, but if you add on another layer of being an “invisible foreigner” or not “being foreign enough” it definitely puts another level of strain to life here. Without an outlet and support group it can be really difficult to get through even daily life which would also make it impossible to do your job as well.
API AJET is just one of the groups that aim to provide support for people who share specific interests, experiences, and cultural backgrounds and also work as a network for JETs across Japan.
If there are any current or potential JETs reading this and you are interested in joining API AJET, please feel free to contact me or check out our Facebook page.
Thank you for reading!