By The North American Post Staff
The reception began with speeches by Omura and Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim, who both gave special recognition to the long-running program. Omura presented his Consul General Award to the Pacific Northwest JET Program Alumni Association (PNWJETTA) for its contributions to the program, membership support and cultural promotion.
The alumni association currently has 544 registered members and has hosted National JETAA Conferences in 2003, 2008 and 2014. Their activities include working with the consulate in recruiting future JET applicants and application screening, supporting accepted members’ transitions into their new careers and joining community events for cultural outreach.
Some of the association members joined the “Tohoku Tomo” film project which brought stories of the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake to the United States.
“The Consul General’s Commendation is awarded to community members in recognition of their contributions and achievements in promoting mutual understanding and friendship between Japan and the United States of America,” the consulate stated. “The Consulate hopes the community will join us in congratulating PNWJETAA for their accomplishments.”
Kim read a proclamation stating that Mayor Ed Murray had declared Nov. 18, 2016 as JET Day.
The reception also welcomed eight new PNWJETTA members, who recently returned from Japan. All of them served as assistant language teachers, coordinators of international relations or sports exchange advisers for a prefecture government.
Michelle Kato said that she has served in Kagoshima, helping to translate disaster preparedness documents into English, relating to the active volcano Sakurajima.
“I’d like to put this experience to use in a similar operation,” she said.
Mackenzie McMillan took charge of ethics in a junior high school in Chiba and talked about diversity in both the U.S. and Japan in English. Annie Vuong, who participated in the JET Program from 2009 to 2012, said that she best remembered Matsuno-cho, Ehime, where she served, rather than the other more famous cities of Japan.