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Record-number of 8 UK Students Selected for Japan Exchange and Teaching Program

By Whitney Hale

Eight recent University of Kentucky graduates have been selected to participate in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program, which provides them with the opportunity to live and work in Japan as assistant language teachers (ALTs) or as coordinators for international relations (CIRs) as interpreters/translators. The 2018 class of UK JET recipients is the largest class from the university to date.

Founded in 1987, JET has sent more than 60,000 global participants (including nearly 32,000 Americans) to work in schools, boards of education and government offices throughout Japan. What makes JET unique is that it is the only teaching exchange program managed by the government of Japan.

The JET Program typically receives 4,000-5,000 applications each year from U.S. applicants. Of these, 1,000-1,100 are selected for participation in the program.

The following UK graduates have been selected for the JET Program:

Due to other offers, Monica Donovan and Kayla Edwards will not be able to accept their JET placements.

Studying Japanese, and in turn applying for the JET Program, was a natural fit for Catherine Cornelius, whose interest in Japan began with a personal connection. “I grew up with a second-generation Japanese family living next door, and they would throw parties for Japanese holidays, as well as babysit me. As such, I’ve had an interest in Japanese culture from a young age, so it made sense to major in it.”

Like Cornelius and her fellow Wildcats, Laura Birdsong also credits high school and college studies and travel experiences, including Education Abroad programs, as major influences on her interest in teaching English abroad. But local classroom experiences also had an impact.

“I have completed over 135 days of practicum and student teaching placements in middle schools throughout the Central Kentucky area. The schools I have worked at were diverse, including a large percentage of students who are English language learners. My experiences working with English language students sparked my interest in teaching English as a second language,” Birdsong said. “By participating in the JET Program, I hope to learn how to further develop intercultural relationships as well as bolster my own ability to inclusively and effectively teach families from Japan.”

UK students interested in the JET Program can find additional information through the university’s Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, part of the Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence within the Division of Student and Academic Life, and the Japan Studies program, which is housed in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Students who are interested in JET are encouraged to begin work with NCA Director Pat Whitlow or Associate Professor Masamichi “Marro” Inoue well in advance of the scholarship deadline.

On Oct.11, a representative from the JET Program will be on campus to discuss the opportunity with interested students. Details will be announced later this fall.

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: #uk4ky #seeblue