Alumnus Claire Hopkins accepted into the Japanese Exchange and Teaching program
- Author: Dillon Miller
- Author: Tuesday, May 7th, 2019
WKU alumnus (2017) Claire Hopkins of Adairville, Ky., was recently accepted into the JET Program (Japan Exchange and Teaching). The program is an opportunity to live and teach in cities, towns, and villages throughout Japan.
An initiative created by the Japanese government, the JET Program invites participants to live in Japan for several years and to serve as either an Assistant Language Teacher or as an interpreter for the government. Participants are also cultural ambassadors from the United States to Japan.
Hopkins will be an Assistant Language Teacher, helping to teach local students English in the classroom. When asked about what inspired her to apply, she said that travelling overseas has always been a goal for her.
“I’ve always wanted to travel and live abroad,” says Hopkins. “The JET Program is a great opportunity for me because I get to combine two things I am passionate about: new experiences and the English language.”
While Hopkins is nervous about living abroad, she is confident that the interactions she will have with Japanese culture will create an exciting experience of a lifetime.
“I am so eager to learn more about Japanese culture, food, and language. I know very little Japanese and am really hoping that while teaching English, I am also able to learn the Japanese language. I can’t wait to meet my fellow JETs along with the community I will be living in, and I am extremely excited for the opportunity to travel and explore Japan.”
Hopkins notes that her time at WKU helped to prepare her for this opportunity. Dr. Alison Youngblood assisted her through the application process, and the classes that Hopkins took in communication and grammar gave her a strong background.
“I believe those resources will come in handy in the coming year,” Hopkins stated.
Hopkins will join the ranks of other WKU alumni who have participated in the JET Program. One of those alumni is Dr. Sandra Hughes of the WKU Department of English.
“The best thing about the job was the kids themselves,” says Dr. Hughes. “It was wonderful to teach classes. You team-teach in a classroom with a Japanese teacher of English. You do not have to know Japanese; you’re not supposed to use Japanese. The point is to encourage the students and the teachers to use English with a native speaker. They’ll have that for the rest of their careers after you’re gone.”
For students who wish to apply for the JET Program, Hopkins advises interested students to be patient and open to adventure.
Waiting is such a large part of this program,” Hopkins says. “You don’t have to speak Japanese or have experience teaching. I think what’s more important is to be comfortable with the idea of leaving familiarity and jumping into something like this.”
Hopkins is currently awaiting placement information for the program.