Farewell to JET participants
Pictured at the farewell reception for South Africans participating in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET Programme) are (l-r) Boniswa Isaacs, Gavin Binge, Ambassador Yoshizawa of Japan in SA, Kyla O’Neill, Thando Hlatswayo. Tebello Mohale and Mbali Sexwale.
Speech by Gavin Binge, a JET participant
Good evening honoured guests, Ambassador Yoshizawa, Counselor Naito, Mr. Nishijima, Mr Keet, JETs of years past and JETs of years future.
On behalf of the 2013 South African JETs, I’d like to start off by saying “thank you”.
Thank you all so very much to the Japanese government and everyone involved for making the JET programme a reality. We are all humbled and deeply honoured that Japan wishes to learn from South Africa, and we are thrilled and immensely excited by the opportunity to learn from Japan.
Thank you, also, to the Japanese embassy in South Africa, and all those who have worked hard to bring us to this exciting point. We’re grateful to you all for your hard work on the administrative side of things: screening the candidates, reading all those motivational essays, conducting the interviews, and for ultimately settling on us. I can’t think of anyone here who is not highly appreciative of your work. We thank you.
And to all the JET alumni, thank you all for sharing your experiences with us, as those have been both a comfort and an inspiration. As if we weren’t excited enough, hearing stories of life in Japan has certainly taken us all up a notch or two, I’m sure!
And on a personal note, I’d like thank all of those who are in this great group with me: you’ve all been friendly and warm from the start, and I’m very grateful to you for that. If you are as kind to your students as you’ve been to me and to each other, I have no worries at all for this group’s success.
As a South African, I might be a bit biased, but I really think that we are the best suited country for the JET programme because it is a marvellous opportunity for us to do what we do best: learn, and teach.
We’re great at these two things because, often without us even realising it, we learn from and teach others on a daily basis. After all, what other country is shared by English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Khosa, Venda, Pedi, Sotho, Chinese and Japanese people? And of those, we have the entire religious spectrum laid out before us. As we are surrounded by so many cultures and people, we are constantly sharing the best aspects of our cultures while learning from the best aspects of theirs.
So I say that we’re good at multiculturalism, because we’re good at learning and teaching.
And now, we have the chance to go even further and share our skills with our Japanese colleagues and students. While there, we can now learn from their incredibly rich, detailed and deeply historic culture. We can learn so much and in so many fields: history, mythology, language, business, education, and even just new ways of living and seeing the world. As mentioned earlier, we really are thrilled to have this chance.
And as teachers, we also get the opportunity to really help out our students in a deeply human way. As a teacher myself, I can say that there are few things as heartwarming as seeing a student’s face really light up as they understand something new for the first time. When you get to genuinely help someone on a personal level, it is job satisfaction at its best.
And, speaking of jobs: on the JET programme, we also all get an unofficial promotion. We’ve been promoted to ambassadors: it’s quite a career jump! And, as ambassadors to South Africa, we’ll conduct ourselves accordingly and will bring “proudly South African” to Japan with both enthusiasm and dignity.
And so, on behalf of the most diverse and exciting group of 2013 JETs, I can safely say that we will all do our best. We will not let you down. And for this excellent opportunity, we offer our greatest “thank you”, “baie dankie”, “siyabonga”, “vielen dank” and “domou arigato gozaimasu”.