By Olivia Krauth–

The Study Abroad Fair, held this past Wednesday in the Red Barn, shed light on numerous travel opportunities available for University of Louisville students. One of opportunities was the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, otherwise known as the JET Program.

This unique program is a Japanese government program that brings international students to Japan to aid in foreign language education for Japanese students. 90% of the program’s participants serve as Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs), who perform a variety of duties, including being a conversation partner and a

native speaker model for students

benefitting from the program.

“The goals of the program are to improve foreign language education in Japan, thus improving the international communication competence of Japanese people, and help Japan with internationalization in the modern global economy,” stated John Gale, JET Program Coordinator.

While there are similar English-teaching prgrams, the JET Program stands out due to its association with the Japanese government which serves a higher purpose, according to Gale.

“It brings Japanese people into contact with someone from another culture, who they have direct access to and can learn from, not only English, but about that JET Participant’s culture as well,” said Gale. “Likewise, JETs learn about Japan while developing important skills and relationships for the future. This give and take creates a stronger bond between Japan and participating countries like the United States.”

The application process includes two parts: a rigorous application packet for the initial screening, and an interview at the Japanese Embassy or Consulate for the second round.

“I’ll be honest and say that it is a very competitive process,” stated Gale. “The Program is looking for the best people out there. That’s why it’s so important for me to visit great schools like the University of Louisville and reach out to as many people as I can: so that I can find the best.”

While the application is competitive, the program is worth it.

“The JET Program is something I believe in absolutely because I’ve seen the power it has to change peoples’ lives for the better,” stated Gale.

“For me personally, the most rewarding part of my time as an ALT on JET was being a role model to my students and inspiring them just by being myself,” said Gale. “It’s an amazing feeling when you get to be that inspiring teacher for someone else.”

John Gale, Cordinator of the JET program talks to students during the study abroad fair that was held in the Red Barn. PHOTO BY OLIVIA KRAUTH/LOUISVILLE CARDINAL