Leaving on a JET Plane

I have no idea why I’m going to Japan. They asked me in the JET Program interview, months ago, those eight words – “Why do you want to go to Japan?”

I smiled with my big, confident interview face. “Culture fascinates me,” I began, the bullshit spilling forth with the same ease as the “JPs” – what my friend Noelle politely calls the grossly elaborated, “Juicy poops.”

“I relish the privilege and opportunity to immerse myself in another culture,” I continued answering, this part entirely truth – “to learn a new language and both learn from and teach students.”

Three months later and here I am, sitting on a JET plane, excited JETs speaking broken Japanese to one another, laughing. “Did you study katakana first or go straight to hiragana?” a voice across from me questions my seat-mate. He responds katakana, although he knows both syllabries and around 500 kanji.  His answer is as lost on me as the original question.

It never occurred to me seven months ago, when I rushed to postmark my properly numbered and sorted, thick application for the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, that I would be the only, or one of very few, people to apply for the mere fact that JET is one of the most reputable programs there is to teach English abroad. I didn’t know anything about Japan; I simply needed a plan – a primary or a back-up plan – to be “in the works” during that terrifying month before being shoved out of the collegiate bubble, and JET was that plan.

On the plane, I laugh along with everyone else, asking names, ages and what degrees they hold, all the while positioning my seat to an up-right position and making sure my seat-belt is securely fastened. We’re taking off. They’re discussing the difficulties of translating idioms into Japanese, and I cringe; I know one word of Japanese –

“Konichiwa,” the pilot greets the full plane, echoing my thoughts, as the plane rolls forward.

I glance down at the dank, well-trodden American concrete outside my window. This will be the last piece of America I will see for the next year.

I have no idea why I’m going to Japan, but I have 365 days to figure it out.

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~ by C on July 25, 2009.

One Response to “Leaving on a JET Plane”

  1. I love this!

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