JETAA Great Lakes (US-17)
- National Conference Detroit (GLJETAA President and NatCon Organizer-2015)
- GLJETAA President (2012-2016)
- GLJETAA Secretary (2017-current)
- JTAM (Japanese Teachers Association of Michigan)
Positions held: Secretary, Vice President, President (2000-present)
I was a JET participant from 1998-2000, in Kagawa-ken, teaching at one junior high school, four elementary schools and four kindergartens. Since my return home to Michigan, I have been teaching Japanese to high school students at Clarkston High School for the past 12 years and hope to continue my job of teaching and showing my love for Japan to my students.
As an educator, I am a huge advocate of exchange programs. At my high school, I have a strong and unique program with Chiba Higashi High School whereby they send 16 students to Clarkston for a week biannually. The students create presentations on Japanese culture in English for my students. Each Japanese student does a home-stays with their counterparts from Clarkston. They are able to experience American life, organically. The friendships that I have seen formed, continued and strengthened, even 12 years later, is so heartwarming for me. My students and I reciprocate the exchange by going to Japan biannually with my students giving presentations on American life, in Japanese. They also do home stays with their counterparts in Japan. This exchange program, not only continues to strengthen that bond between the United States and Japan, it dispels any stereotypes that either my students or the Japanese students might have about each other and their respective cultures.
This is why I want to focus on education as your Country Rep. There are so many individuals who go on JET and have a teaching degree, and then come back and their time on JET goes to the back burner. Teaching here in America is so different from teaching in Japan. I learned the hard way when I started teaching here. I want to connect these educators and create a Facebook page to help support them, as well as supporting those who are coming back from JET and going into education. Education is an essential part not only for our society, but also for educating our future about the JET program and Japan.
I grew up in a bilingual household speaking Greek and English. My life growing up was very similar to “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. I loved growing up in a bilingual household, but when it came time to choosing a language in high school, my mother compelled me to learn Japanese.
Years later, here I am and I can’t even fathom what I’m be doing for a living, had I not taken Japanese and eventually fallen in love with it. After attending college classes and majoring in Japanese, I did a yearlong study abroad. It was there that I met a JET and we hung with them and had a great time together. Hearing these amazing stories of them working with school children, teaching English. The fun they had, the experience of being in an amazing program, had me intrigued from then.
Upon returning home, I finished my degree and applied for, got accepted into and went on JET for two years. Those two years, were life-altering for me. I was not only able to improve my Japanese and culture knowledge, I saw that I was able to be independent and benefit from this amazing experience.
Two years later, I become a teacher in Michigan, and was elected President of GLJETAA. Leading GLJETAA for a few years brought its challenges, but also many accomplishments. We had many issues with low member involvement likely due to spotty coverage over multiple state chapters, getting a strong representative in Ohio helped to get Ohio members more involved and interested in JETAA.
Another personal accomplishment was spearheading and organizing the National Conference in Detroit. Preparing for NatCon is not an easy feat, but with the help of Clair, our amazing and supportive Country Reps, we did it. It was a great conference! In a city that many thought would never would recover and rebuild. In a chapter, that has had its ups and downs, it was great to bring JETAA members out to help run the three day conference. In preparation for NatCon, people communicated the desire for some form of Japanese entertainment, I was able to organize a few events as a result of this feedback:
- A surprise Taiko concert by a fellow JETAA member
- A “Detroit-themed” dinner at a local non-profit restaurant to play out the theme of “one non-profit helping another”.
- A scavenger hunt around Detroit!
The outcome of the whole weekend in the pictures was amazing and brought the group so much joy and happiness.
During my time as President, I was also able to bring the Taylor Anderson Story, three times to Michigan. During two of those events, we were honored to have Reggie Life and Andy Anderson (once), join the showing. This was such a great way to not only bring JETAA together, but to bring awareness to others of what this documentary covered and the devastation.
Soon after my time as President of GLJETAA, I was asked to fill in the secretarial position some time later, when the former VP moved, I gladly took the position. Getting involved with GLJETAA again gave me the feeling of being back “home”.
Within the first few months of taking this position on, I took over the work of organizing the job fair. Having already had a connection with the Japanese business community, it felt comfortable reaching out to my company contacts and getting them interested in attending the job fair. In the end it was a success, and I plan to work on this year’s job fair, as well.
Running for country rep has always been in the back of my head. I didn’t know if I was the right person for this position. However, looking back at the accomplishments that I have had and brought in for GLJETAA, (NatCon and job fair), I know that I have the dedication and foresight to do a good job and help other stakeholders.
To view Faye Valtadoros’ CR Endorsements, click HERE or see below: