| Japanese (日本語)

Speech by Consul General Eiichi Kawahara

JET Departure Reception at Official Residence

July 29, 2011

Good evening!

2011 JET Participants,
JET Alumni representatives,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am truly happy to have you all at my residence tonight to celebrate and wish 17 new JETs good luck on the greatest adventure of their lives, which starts tomorrow.

Since I assumed the office of the Consul General in Miami, in January of this year, I have had the opportunity to meet many JET alumni throughout Florida.  I have listened with much amusement to their stories and fond memories of their stay in Japan, and I look forward to listening with the same enthusiasm the stories you will bring with you when you return.

When you arrive in Japan and go to your assigned towns, you should consider yourselves to be American “Ambassadors” with the enormous responsibility, to portray the best of American culture, customs, values and sentiments in every action of yours. 

There will be moments when you will miss your family, your friends, even your favorite foods, but one day, when you look back at your time in Japan, I am sure you will cherish your experience there. Besides, you have good communication tools such as e-mail and Skype these days.

Following the disaster of March 11, JET Program participants in Japan were among the most active in identifying survivors and communicating their whereabouts to concerned family and friends in the States. Even those JETs living outside of the Tohoku area have volunteered their time to help in their rebuilding efforts.  That is a good example of the “Kizuna,” or “bonds of friendship” between Japan and the international community.  I wish that you will share, as your predecessors did, this “kizuna,” and that you would carry it in your hearts throughout your lifetime.

You have my absolute respect, for you were chosen from among over five thousand applicants nationwide for this job.  The position you have taken is of great responsibility; keeping in mind that you are being entrusted with Japan’s greatest national treasure: its children.  These children will look up to you and will remember you all their lives.

When you come back from your “mission,” make us proud by being perfect transmitters of Japan’s culture in your community.  Share your experience in Japan, keep the new language you would have acquired and take all that was positive and apply it here.  Please encourage other young people to the same challenge you took and by so doing, contribute to further promoting United States and Japan’s bilateral relations.

        Please, enjoy your stay in Japan, and make the most of your experience.
Congratulations and thank you