Thursday, October 18, 2018

UTSA graduates gain job experience through unique Japan Exchange and Teaching program

UTSA graduates gain job experience through unique Japan Exchange and Teaching program

UTSA alumni Chris Cole '17 teaches students in Tamana, Japan.

(Nov. 6, 2017) -- Recent graduates from The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) are gaining international on the job training through a unique and highly competitive global program. Eight UTSA graduates are currently working in Japan as part of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program, the largest cohort from UTSA to be selected in one year.

JET offers young professionals the opportunity to work in Japan as assistant language teachers, supporting Japanese English teachers in the classroom, or as coordinators for international relations, who work in local government offices promoting internationalization efforts at the community level. The positions are paid, with a minimum one-year commitment.

Mathieu Gregg ’17 was accepted in the JET program after earning his bachelor of arts in modern languages specializing in Japanese from UTSA in May. He is working in Tokushima, Japan, splitting his time between teaching classes and organizing events with other JET participants.

“The most rewarding part of this job is when I attend club activities such as judo, kendo and weightlifting after school and the kids work really hard to teach me the proper forms and technique in English that they’ve learned in class,” said Gregg.

Mimi Yu, associate director of the UTSA East Asia Institute, says JET expands the students’ global knowledge.

“They serve as a human bridge to connect the American and Japanese cultures,” Yu said. “By applying their Japanese skills in a classroom in Japan, they’re gaining skillsets they can’t get in the United States.”

JET is not just for Japanese language students. Fahad Khan ’10 graduated from UTSA with his bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in chemistry.

“After taking Japanese classes at UTSA with lecturers Yu and Makiko Fukuda, I came to love learning the language,” Khan said.

He just returned to San Antonio after teaching for three years in Kyoto, Japan.

“Normally, JET teachers are limited to teaching in purely English, but since I could speak Japanese, I was allowed to teach translation classes in Japanese,” said Khan. “My science background allowed me to teach science in English as well.”

"I am pleased that our students, who have acquired empathetic and positive views about the Japanese culture, can become an educator in Japan and come back to the U.S. with a broader international perspective,” said Fukuda. 

JET is just one international program through UTSA that allows students to become globally engaged.

“To have our alumni participate in the JET Program is a testament to the work UTSA has been doing to increase the global mindset of our students and its profile and reputation around the world,” said René Zenteno, vice provost for UTSA International Initiatives.

“The study abroad opportunities that UTSA offer helped prepare me for cultural differences in my professional and personal life,” Gregg said. “I plan to pursue a master’s in international relations in the future, so learning how to interact with people from a different culture and get real on the job experience serving as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. will be useful for finding future careers in the field.” 

Next, Khan plans to teach Japanese at a language school in San Antonio, an opportunity he said is only possible because of UTSA.

“Without the amazing teachers who motivated me to learn, stay curious and be the bridge for me to meet Japanese people, I would never have even dreamed of learning Japanese, let alone living and working in Japan,“ said Khan.

- Courtney Clevenger

Explore international opportunities at UTSA.

Learn more about the UTSA East Asia Institute.

Learn more about the JET program.

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