Sensei Jabari Smith has been living in Japan since August 2007. He graduated from Howard University with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and became a new participant of the JET Program. Now, a year later, the future mayor of New Orleans, as he likes to say, just resigned his contract with the Japanese government, and will be in Japan through July 2009.
“Initially, I only planned to be overseas for one calendar year, however after realizing just how life-changing this opportunity had been for me and all that I had gained from it, and could stand to gain with an additional year my perspective changed.”
The Japanese Exchange and Teaching Programme, was established for English speaking individuals to travel to Japan and immerse themselves in the culture. Simultaneously “JETS” would either teach English to students and professionals, work on international exchange activities, or promote international exchange through sports for a year. JETS are paid, afforded low-priced housing, encouraged to travel, and learn traditional Japanese culture.
“While being here I have done an incredible amount of traveling and before my tenure is complete in July 2009, I plan to travel to Australia, Europe and Africa,” Smith said. So far, Smith has enjoyed Japan, Thailand and South Korea.
While living in Asia, Smith has been living in an economy that has experienced the opposite of the US economy. The organization for economic development stated that although the Japanese economy is slumping, it is still growing at a much greater rate than the US economy. Last year both the US and Japanese economies expanded 2.1 percent. This year, Japan’s is expected to grow 1.6 percent while the US economy is expected only to grow 0.5 percent.
“The U.S. economy will tip into a mild recession in 2008 as the result of mutually reinforcing cycles in the housing and financial markets,” the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated.
As the economy is only expected to grow by half a percent, Smith who plans to return next summer will return to an economy that is not so different than what it is now. A few Howard students have taken the initiative to teach overseas. Tashi Bordenav, Brian Freeland and Brandon Williams all plan to teach in South Korea after graduating. After researching opportunities and thinking of impressive ways to build their resumes, they decided to work abroad.
“I found out about the Jet Program past their application deadline, but I still wanted to work abroad, so I Googled a couple key phrases like ‘working abroad’ and found a lot of opportunities.” Bordenav said.She and the rest of her classmates will be leaving between June and August this summer. All of them plan on meeting up with Smith in Japan sometime in the next coming year to swop stories and get insight on teaching in Asia. They have been keeping in contact with him through www.Facebook.com and each will be in South Korea for at least one school year.
Michael Creech of Northeast, DC, spent 3 years in Malaysia, teaching children a number of subjects ranging from English, geography, music and math. While there he did not save much, but he valued his experience as a teacher and mentor to children who usually spent their days farming or cultivating rice.
Creech who is originally from New York, worked overseas after graduating from Columbia. When he returned, he was in the states from less than six months before considering going back overseas.
“Working overseas is addictive,” Creech said. “It’s a never ending learning experience with no homework and no finals. Every now and then, I do think about going back. It’s something everyone should do.”Smith who is in Japan now, shares his experiences overseas through images he puts up on his facebook page. Images of his first day, the view of the mountains from his home, his class and travel experiences are all posted for all to see.
“None of this was possible without doing research.” Smith said. “I asked teachers and advisors and I turned to the internet.” Working overseas is an easily attainable goal for those who fear the current state of the US economy and what is predicted for the future. Visiting foreign embassies, the state department, websites like www.craigslist.com, www.globalTesol.com, and www.joyjobs.com are a few of the places you can search for jobs.