It’s that time of year again everyone–time to choose the First-Year-Rep. If you’re a first year, you’re going to be voting on one of these people here, so get to know their platforms and inform yourself. You appreciate democracy, right? You want to participate in the process, right?
Chris “Ferfie” Brownoff
This is Ferfie, and I’m quite keen on running for First Year Rep. Prior to coming to Japan, I didn’t exactly live in some box, completely shut-in from the rest of the world. That said, there were still many curve balls slung my way by the JET experience. I also discovered very quickly that the cursory information provided at Tokyo orientation didn’t really hold for a Hokkaido-bound JET like myself. However, when I arrived in Chitose, and flipped through my Hokkaido Newcomers Guide, I was pretty quickly presented with more useful information than what was hurled at me during the 2 days of orientation in Tokyo. While the Sapporo Orientation and the HAJET presentations also gave me a sackful of useful tips and tricks for my job, it also delivered a social aspect that I had yet to experience at the initial orientation. HAJET just seemed fun. The people involved in the Prefectural Council seemed generally like rad folks. I was pretty stoked on how well they appeared to get along with each other, but also how rad they treated me and other first years. I mean, as a new kid on the block, you never really know what you’ll get when you’re getting advice from a bunch of folks with way more experience than you. Were they gonna be a bunch of lame-os? Were they gonna talk down to me like some impossible-to-impress parent? “Listen son, you’re a grown-ass man, now stop with the stupid questions, and act yer damn age.” …All valid concerns if you’re asking me.
But HAJET got me really stoked. Not only about living in a place like Hokkaido; but, it got me stoked on how connected they try and make a place like Hokkaido for anyone that’s on this journey. It’s a big-ass place. And honestly, before coming to Sapporo Orientation and meeting the HAJET folks there, I honestly didn’t think I would be ripping around the island too much, outside of Holidays. Now, however, 5 hour drive to Sapporo on the weekend? Sure. Some rad folks wanna climb some mountain I’ve never heard of, and I ain’t got a smart phone? Cool, I’ll try not to get lost. Wanna come to a feast out of your neck of the woods to celebrate a holiday you have no connection with? Yer damn right I do. Because the HAJET folks, and the JETs I have met through their organized events, really make those experiences for me.
So, if I can help provide for any JET (a new-comer or a Unicorn) half of what I’ve experienced from HAJET so far, than I’d say that’s pretty not too effin’ bad.
On top of that, I have to say that I was really impressed by how dedicated HAJET is to giving back to the community. Just about everyone that I’ve met on the council has shown interest not only in connecting JETs with each other, but demonstrating the benefits of connecting with those within their respective towns. Whether through the promotion of HEC – and demonstrating how much this can do for not only the academic future of a child but also their self-esteem – or simply the reminders to be present in your community, HAJET has impressed upon me the benefits of getting involved inside and outside of the classroom. It’s sometimes easy to get swept up in the JET experience, and focus on self-cultivation a bit too much. While it’s great to better yourself and take on new challenges, HAJET has served to remind me how much it means to my community if I shift the focus from myself to those around me. Not that I had a heart of stone before coming here, but when that 6 year-old at the town cafe brings over a book to read, regardless of all the crap I have to take care of on that evening, you better believe I’m going to sit down and go through every page with him. Yes, I would have done that before being introduced to HAJET, but they have demonstrated to me just how much experiences like that mean to those kids. Needless to say, this serves as another aspect of HAJET that I would be stoked to pass on to any of my fellow JETs, both current and future.
As for Pokemon. I mean I was right in that prime-age group to be swept up by the phenomenon that was Pokemon. I dug it, collected the cards, didn’t know how to play though. But I really only got stoked on the initial Game Boy games. I guess you could say I’m a bit of nostalgic…ist? I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with post-2nd generation Pokemon, or any of their related media. That said, they were never really my jam. I dug Gen 1 & 2 when thy were around and in syndication, but stopped paying attention pretty quickly thereafter. That said, nowadays I can’t help but walk around in the fall sometimes, smell a certain smell, and immediately remember being an elementary school kid – getting way too stoked on my Nidorino card, and far too anxious when I’d enter Lavender Town in Pokemon Blue. What I love about it is that it’s able to provide that experience for me: It has created memories that can be triggered by things as simple as sensory experiences. Granted, this is all likely due to very clever marketing on some executives part, and I guess I hat that. Taking advantage of the marshmallow like brain of some dumb Canadian kid, and implicitly coercing it to like a bunch of cute, foreign cartoons. They really reeled me in, hook, line, and sinker. Oh well, no regrets, so I guess everybody wins?
HAJET has been an invaluable resource since I arrived in Hokkaido. From meeting friends to chill around a lake on weekends with to answering my frantic questions about phones on the Facebook group, HAJET has been there. As someone who hasn’t been very social or outgoing in the past and is striving to change that, HAJET has provided me with opportunities I might have never otherwise taken to meet new people in new situations. HAJET to me is the epitome of what an AJET group should be, a trustworthy group of people who work together to find ways to bring JETs together and explore our island at the same time. I want to be your First Year Rep to give back to HAJET for all it has done for me, and to help HAJET fill the same invaluable position for future members of the Hokkaido JET family.
Pokemon, much like HAJET, has played a role in allowing me to make new friends and connect with new people. Showing up to my first college Halloween party as Pikachu earned me several odd stares, true, but also several high fives and nostalgic stories about the good old days of the original 151. My opinion on Pokemon can be described thusly: at my final piano recital before leaving the country, when all the other graduates were playing Mozart or Andrew Lloyd Webber, I jammed out to the original Pokemon theme song – and nearly the entire audience sang along!
Hi! I’m Nikolai. I’m really tall. It’s a notable fact about me. I might literally be head and shoulders above the competition… Only physically though, I’m sure. :)
After only being here less than three months I can already tell that the community of awesome, wacky people up here in Hokkaido is going to be one of the best things about my experience as an ALT. If I could meet more great folks, and actually be personally able to help everyone have a better time here in Japan, I would be truly overjoyed. That’s why I’m applying for First Year Rep. Yoroshiku!
As for Pokemon… man, I probably COULD write an essay. Come on it’s like all the fun of having pets, combined with the appeal of collecting, and add in all the awesome and cute designs… what kid wouldn’t love Pokemon? The design that goes into all of them is incredible, and brilliant: the naming, the art, the balancing of abilities, all of it. Haven’t played since Emerald though so I’m a bit behind the times, but I have super fond memories of playing the games on gameboy… and watching and rewatching taped episodes of the tv show when I was little.
My favorite right now has got to be Absol, the dark/horned fuzzy yin-yang wolf cat one. If I WAS a Pokemon I’d probably be Psychic type. Or actually I hear they have Fairy now so maybe Psychic/Fairy. That would be rad.
Hi there! My name is Jonathan Curry, originally from L.A., recent Colorado College grad, and one of the two new ALTs in the quaint northeastern town of Hamatonbetsu. Call me Jon!
Since my arrival in Hokkaido, HAJET has been not only warm and welcoming to myself and my fellow newcomers, but also a key part of our transition and acclimation to living and working as a JET. The Northern region’s leader, as I’m sure the leaders of all other regions did as well, wasted no time in touching bases. Moreover, the HAJET leadership has been consistent and diligent in their efforts to reassure us that we do indeed have a dedicated support system backing us every step of the way. Having studied abroad in college, I understand the value of such guidance and support, and I hope to ensure that HAJET continues to thrive and improve in their endeavors. Not to mention, I have been super psyched on the Hokkaido English Challenge Camp – I love working in small groups with kids, especially in a camp setting. I feel that the generosity behind this event reflects HAJET’s admirable values, as well as my own. I would love to have the opportunity to further assist my fellow newcomers, have even more of an impact on young Japanese students, and promote the values that I believe make HAJET such a great organization.
As for Pokemon… I’m going to err on the side of caution and assume there is a word limit. I would honestly feel bad for making someone sit and listen to me rant about how incredible of a franchise Pokemon has become, or how huge of an impact it has had on me since receiving Red Version on my 6th birthday. I am always down for a competitive battle, a randomized Nuzlocke run, or to sit down and explain what these things mean to more casual players. (No condescension intended.) I can’t swim very well, but I adore water type Pokemon; I always go with the water starter, and Lapras is my all-time favorite. (Other than Lugia, of course.) You want to chat? Battle? Trade? Co-op run? I’m up for it, whenever, wherever. #pokemonforlife (Are we allowed to use hashtags in this?)
Seriously though, it would be an absolute honor to represent my fellow first year JETs. I hope that the way my values align with those of HAJET, as well as my undying love of Pokemon, will show you that I am a strong and worthwhile candidate for this position. Thank you, and best of luck to the other applicants!
MariTi Blaise Lovell
HAJET to me is not having my mom worry that I’ll be ok in this foreign country all on my own. HAJET is having a support group that reminds me I’m not alone in an isolated bubble. As a first year rep I want to help my other first year colleagues realize that even if they’ve visited Japan before through home stay or what or if they’re like me, who has never lived alone or left the country before. It doesn’t have to be terrifying because there are guaranteed to be people out there going through the same things as you, with similar experiences and to find them you just have to step outside your bubble.