Maryville College senior Gabbie Kelseyhas been accepted to the Japan Exchange Teaching (JET) Program, a Japanese government initiative that brings college graduates to the country to teach English.
The highly selective JET Program seeks to promote intercultural exchange and understanding by providing participants the opportunity to live and work in a Japanese community and represent the United States as cultural ambassadors. Each year, between 4,000 and 5,000 applicants compete for approximately 1,000 positions in communities throughout Japan.
Kelsey, an international studies major from Gallatin, will depart for Japan in September. She noted that the year-long program allows for contract renewals up to three times, which would give her the chance to spend between one and three years in the program.
“Many alumni have applied for the program throughout the years, so there has always been a relationship between JET recruiters and the school,” she said.
Before she arrived at Maryville College, Kelsey knew that international travel would be a big part of her life. She traveled internationally during a summer program in high school, and after arriving at MC, she immersed herself in the international community on campus.
She was on the leadership team of the College’s Global Citizenship Organization, served as a Study Abroad Ambassador, and participated in various international programs and events on campus.
“It gave me a chance to connect the international community with the MC community and make some lifelong friends,” Kelsey said.
In the classroom, she took both elementary- and intermediate-level Japanese courses, and her Senior Study was titled “Cultural Diplomacy and Cinema: Hollywood’s Case for Japan,” which combines her major studies with pop culture and film.
Kelsey decided to apply for the JET Program after the spring of her junior year, when she studied abroad in Japan at Kansai Gaidai University.
“I enjoyed the people that I met there, as well as the overall experience enough to want to pursue a possible career in the country,” she said, adding that she wrote about her experience on the MC Center for International Education blog. “The experience was one that I will remember for the rest of my life. I enjoyed it because I got the chance to be in a new environment and study new things. I got a chance to learn more about myself and the opportunity to live in Japan.”
She applied to be an assistant language teacher through the JET program, which will allow her to assist a designated teacher in an elementary, middle or high school in Japan. She said she will learn more about the specific components during her orientation, but her responsibilities could include organizing speech contests, supplementing English lessons with games and activities, and possibly teaching some aspects of American culture.
She also hopes that her experience with the JET Program will help her further discern her vocational path.
“In the future, I intend to work in the international field in some way, though I’m still trying to navigate where, specifically,” Kelsey said. “I have always been interested in the relationship between countries, and currently I believe the JET Program would fulfill those desires, as well as expose me to possible career paths and networks.”