A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog entry about my JET application experience. I want to continue that with a Part 2 and talk about most essential part of the application – the essay.
The statement of purpose is a very important part of your application. The application itself (or at least the one I did when applying in Australia) was 21 pages long already, but the statement of purpose serves as a way for you to be personal and tell your story to the interviewers. I am by no means an expert in writing essays or statements of purposes for programs such as the JET program. In fact, it has been a while since I wrote an essay. You need to ensure you follow certain guidelines when submitting the essay. On top of that, I did some research about what type of essays had worked in the past and what I needed to focus on to help me get into the program. I was also lucky to get a few folk help guide me on the way to write this as well. Anyways, enough about me past and let us get on with the essay. Here is mine:
Statement of Purpose
If given the opportunity to participate in the JET Programme, I would harness my language skills, knowledge and life experiences provide Japanese students with the opportunity to connect with people around the world, and enable them to collaborate and exchange experiences whilst learning English. I am an IT professional with long-standing interests in both learning more about Japanese culture and teaching English language as a foreign language. I enjoy the challenges of learning and of inspiring others. Being part of the JET Programme would allow me the opportunity to study Japanese cultural practices firsthand as well as satisfying my passion to stimulate others with better learning experiences.
My interest in Japan began when I was a primary school student. My school hosted an event called Cross-Cultural Awareness Day. That day, a group of Japanese high school students visited my school. Everyone in my grade gathered in the assembly hall full of excitement. We got split up into groups of three and a Japanese student was allocated to each group. They spoke to us about who they are and what their student life was like. They taught us how to say “good afternoon” in Japanese and also showed us how to make paper cranes. The Japanese student in my group was also kind enough to teach us how to make Japanese green tea. This was my very first opportunity to learn about Japan and be exposed to its unique culture. I was most intrigued and utterly fascinated. Since then, I have continued learning more about Japanese culture by studying the language at high school for five years and travelling to Japan twice. I saw learning Japanese an opportunity to further my horizons and to connect with others. Growing up and throughout my career, I developed an awareness of the importance and everyday benefits of the ability to engage with others in different languages. As such, participation in the JET Programme means more to me than just an opportunity to live and work in Japan for there is still much more that I want to learn about Japan and its culture which I believe can only be successfully achieved through living and working in Japan as part of the community.
At a young age, I developed a passion for supporting student learning and particularly, for assisting those struggling to learn due to language barriers. As a university student, I was fortunate to be appointed to tutor two IT subjects where I successfully provided students with an adaptable and collaborative learning environment. I developed invaluable leadership, time management and organization skills that contributed to a more supportive environment for the students. I recall one particular incident when an Asian student approached me at the end of class. He had questions about the lecture but he struggled to form his questions in English. With some effort, I discovered that he spoke the Mandarin, which luckily I was able to speak so I switched to Mandarin to explain the concepts to him. For the rest of that semester, I would spend some time after class with him to address any questions he had and give him guidance on ways to improve his English. This case, plus many others that I encountered working as Student Ambassador for the Maths and IT faculty at Queensland University of Technology prompted me to want to help others who struggled to communicate and engage. Through this, I realised that I thoroughly enjoy engaging with people while using my language skills to help open the world to them.
My current work in IT requires not only strong technical background but good leadership, teamwork, communication and interpersonal skills to engage with a range of people in an educated and relevant manner. Additionally, I have a passion to use technology to create collaborative learning materials. As a future goal, I hope to pursue a career in Instructional and User Experience design for education and language learning. If accepted into the JET Programme, I would use this opportunity to engage and connect with Japanese students so that I can better understand their struggles and needs and thus develop, in partnership with their teachers, better learning support systems and tailor learning experiences that are fun, interactive and more engaging to students.
My desire to participate in the JET Programme goes far beyond this wish to enhance the educational experience of Japanese students. It would afford me the opportunity to understand the needs and struggles language learners firsthand, something that will be invaluable as I look towards a future developing learning resources that can enhance learning experiences. Becoming a JET participant would be a life-enhancing experience that will allow me to deepen my understanding of Japan through cross-cultural exchange and further help me grow as an individual.
A number of ex-JETs and current JETs have posted up their essays. Hopefully these will give you an idea on how you can start your own. The main piece of advise I have for folk who plan to go through with this is try to tell an interesting and well structured story on how you become interested in Japan and what skills or values you have to make you a good runner on the program. During the interview, you most likely will get questions that touch on elements you mentioned in the essay. Be creative because there are over hundreds of these that get submitted and you are competing against others. Yet, be honest because you want to win the race and it should be authentic.