On Friday, September 30th, Consul General Akira Chiba hosted the Welcome Back Reception for Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program participants who recently returned from Japan. Festivities were held in the Kyoto Gardens atop the Double Tree by Hilton hotel in Little Tokyo. The event was held in conjunction with the 2016 JET Alumni Association National Conference, gathering former JET Program participants from across the country, Japanese government officials, Japanese business professionals and community leaders. For the newly-returned JET participants, it was an opportunity to reconnect with the Southern California community while sharing their experiences abroad, and also to build a network of professional contacts to support continued ties with Japan.
Speaking before the gathered members, Consul General Chiba recognized the personal impact that all participants have had on Japan as the JET Program enters its 30th year and made a donation to JETAA on behalf of a family friend to support JETAA initiatives. In remarks by the Consul General and alumni speakers, guests were encouraged to reflect on their “second home” in Japan and to serve as a bridge between the U.S. and Japan – a bridge strengthened through the cooperation of every JET Program participant and the Japanese community that supports them.
As guests enjoyed the serene garden atmosphere, they were addressed by guest speakers headed by Keynote Speaker Yuko Kaifu, President of the Japan House Los Angeles. Ms. Kaifu stressed the value of diverse experiences as a driver of professional success and encouraged the recently-returned JET participants to leverage their unique experiences from their time in Japan as they rejoin their local communities. Mr. Masahiro Fukukawa, the Executive Consultant of the Council of Local of Authorities for International Relations, led guests in a celebratory toast for the recently returned participants and to another great year of the JET Program. Guests then dined while reminiscing about their lives in Japan and learned about opportunities to stay involved with Japanese organizations and businesses in Southern California.