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So Why Do You Want to Join the JET Program?

Posted by Heliocentrism on February 28, 2010

February 24, 2010

All Pictures

Asakusa Temple in Tokyo, Japan

The Japanese Embassy, Guam

The picture above is of one of my students and me at the Asakusa Temple in Tokyo. At the time this picture was taken I was living in Japan and I was really skinny. I worked for a company called GEOS and I was having a good time; not a great time, but a good time.

I had friends, but most of them work for the JET Programme. I have to say that I was quite jealous of them. They had a huge social network. They knew people in other towns that they didn’t have to serendipitously meet on a subway or anything. They also had Japanese coworkers that they hung out with.

My own coworkers at GEOS seemed tired and over worked, but only because they were. They mostly lived far away. None of them lasted very long at GEOS. By my 4th month of working at GEOS, I was the most senior member at the eikaiwa. I had to rely on casually meeting people on trains or in grocery stores or making friends through my students. (Most of my students were around my age or older.)

Lucky for me, I had one really nice student and he had many foreign friends. He would invite me to go with him anytime these friends were having a party. Many of them were in the JET Programme. I am still friends with a few of them today.

One of my fellow English teachers in Seoul, South Korea

Stay Away from the Channel

Then I moved to South Korea and worked for English Channel. When I worked there the company was okay. They always paid me on time, though I did have to check all my pay stubs to make sure they gave me all my overtime. If I did get paid the wrong amount, it was easily and quickly fixed and I would get the rest of my money in the next pay check. I really had very few complaints.

However, as my contract was nearing to an end, things started to change. There was a new manager and new people in charge at the head office. The new people in charge gave me the impression that since I wasn’t resigning, it wasn’t worth the effort for them to be polite to me.

When I didn’t get the end-of-the-contract bonus that I was supposed to get one month after my last day, I e-mail Mike, the new guy in charge of Human Resources. His response was literally to only say, “That sucks,” and not offer to help me. I did get my money after e-mailing Bob, the guy that used to be in charge of HR.

So, when I decided to go back to South Korea, I didn’t trust English Channel enough to resign with them.  I started to look for a different company. It’s a good thing too. I heard from my old co-workers that English Channel stopped paying the pensions and health insurance for many of its employees; this is illegal. There were also been many times when teachers were not paid on time. Sometimes, the Korean employees did not get paid at all.

I just want to make a note that not all English Channels are the same. It’s like a chain company and they do not all have the same management. The one I worked for, was not a chain, though. It was run by, Kenny, the president of English channel. I’m sure it won’t be long before this company goes bankrupt.

Dea Gin Girls’ High School in Seoul, South Korea

SMOE!!

That’s when I found SMOE (Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education). They place ESL teachers in public schools in Seoul and it is modeled after the JET Programme. I enjoyed my time teaching at Dae Jin Girls’ High School. I was finally able to just teach English without hearing about how the school was losing money.

One of my 2nd grade classes (That 2nd grade of High school = 11th grade in the US)

No one tried to pressure me into working on Saturdays, to sell books, or more classes. I just taught English lessons. And my co-teachers were great, Mrs. Kim and Mrs. Oh! I also enjoyed teaching the English teachers and other co-workers.

They taught me so much about Korea. Whenever they saw me planning a trip, they would give me advice on things to do there. Many times Mrs. Kim or Mrs. Oh made reservations for me since I do not speak Korean very well.

So now I would like to live in Japan one more time. This time I want to work in a public school like I did in Seoul, so I applied to the JET Programme. I was given an interview at the Japanese Embassy in Guam. I think the interview went well. Hopefully, I will hear back from them in April.

The interviews for the JET Program are notorious for being rough. There are blog entries out there from interviewers who say that their fellow interviewers delight in tormenting prospective teachers. I was expecting the worst, but my interviewers all were very nice.

I’ve noticed that Guam is filled with nice, friendly people who are quick to offer help with directions or to drive you around to take pictures of Point Udall.

If you do need to stay in Guam, especially if you have an interview for the JET Program, I recommend The Tamuning Plaza Hotel. It is not fancy, in fact it’s a bit old. But the rooms are huge and the staff is very helpful. It’s about 2 blocks away from the ITC building where the Japanese embassy is. The room rates are pretty good, and you can rent a car from them for about $50 a day. (The room rates are better when you book it through hostelworld.com.)  Since you rent the car from the hotel, you can rent it on days you need a car and just walk to the beach when you don’t need to drive.

The hotel is near Agana Beach. It’s a great beach for kids because the water is shallow even far out. But, it’s not that great for tall swimmers.

Because I’m in a bit of a nostalgic mood, here is a picture of the little Japanese town I used to live in. It’s called Tōgane (pronounced Toe-ga-nay) in Chiba Prefecture. There isn’t much going on there; just onion and rice fields. It was a great place to live.

The old neighborhood in Japan

All Pictures.


 

The United States of America

How to get there:

You can enter my country by land, air, or sea. But I think flight would be your transportation method of choice.

I have no clue how to get a visa to the US or who needs one. Just assume that you need one if you are not American or Canadian and check with your local US embassy.

Phone:

  • Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.

Guam

How to Get There:

From Bangkok –

  • The best airline that I found to get to Guam from Bangkok was Philippines Airline.
  • There’s a long stop over in Manila’s airport. (I will blog about the Ninoy Aquino’s shenanigans later.)

Guam has one commercial airport, the Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport. It’s near Hagatna.

You pretty much have to fly into Guam. There are not boats, and trains are just ridiculous.

Websites:

Notes:

  • Guam is a territory of the United States. This means that if you are American, you do not need a passport to travel to Guam.
  • If you are not an American, then you will need the same visa to enter Guam that you would need to get into the continental United States.
  • The people of Guam are United States citizens, just at a better climate.
  • You can only us US dollars here.
  • I recommend renting a car unless you are with a tour group.
  • Although Guam is a small island, it is not anywhere small enough to just walk around.
  • The beaches here are great.
    • When you go to any beach in Guam, DO NOT go out to the breakers. They look pretty, but do not leave the calm water. The current out there is very strong and many tourists have died. There are also many coral reefs. Corral can be very sharp and you don’t want to be pushed into corral by strong waves.
  • There are 2 military bases on the island.
  • Forget about seeing Point Udall. Just forget it!

Umatac Bay

How to get there:

  • 13°17’54.8″N 144°39’48.3″E
  • This is on Route 2 in Umatac.
  • It’s just about the only part of Route 2 in Umatac that’s near the ocean.

Address:

2, Umatac, Guam 96915, Mariana Islands

Websites:

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • The monument is out in the open and can be accessed at any time.

Notes:

  • This is the spot where Magellan landed and started off the burning and pillaging of the Chamorro villages. Soon after the conquistadors would show up by way of Miguel López de Legazpi.
  • The land would be taken away and claimed in the name of Spain’s King and Queen no Chamorro had ever seen. Later the Guamese would be converted to Christianity, because they needed to learn how to be civilized.
  • Miguel López de Legazpi would then move onto The Philippines. Mark and I would run into him again in Manila.

Fort Soledad
(Fort Nuestra Señora de la Soledad)

How to get there:

  • 13°17’42.4″N 144°39’36.1″E
  • Once you’ve found the Umatac Bay, you can see the fort.
  • Just follow Route 2 past the Spanish Bridge if you’re heading south.
  • If you’re heading North, it’s before the Spanish bridge.

Cost:

  • Free

Notes


Two Lovers Point

How to get there:

  • 13°32’09.5″N 144°48’05.2″E
  • Take Route 1 in Tamuning to Route 34.

Address:

Two Lover’s Point, Tumon Bay, Guam, USA

Phone:

  • 671-647-4107

Website

Cost:

  • 3USD per person

Hours:

  • 8:00 – 20:00

Notes:

The Story of Two Lovers

There once was a Chamorro chief, who had a lovely, charming, and intelligent daughter. She was so lovely and charming that a Spanish captain fell in love with her and asked her father for her hand in marriage. The chief, seeing this as an opportunity to make peace between the two peoples thought it a great idea and said, “Sure. Why not?”

The daughter, being young and beautiful, wasn’t interested in the old crusty Spaniard. She preferred a hot, young Chamorro guy who liked to watch sunsets while saying profound things. Unfortunately, his family was not in the same tax bracket as the chief’s family.

The chief told his daughter to forget about the handsome guy who was actually the right age for her and to think about the positive aspects of marrying the old Spanish captain. The dad and the Spaniard went ahead with the wedding plans and they both got all excited when the big day came.

Right before the wedding the bride-to-be went for a walk. She walked all the way up to what is now known as Lovers Point to be with the guy her dad didn’t feel was good enough for her. Eventually, her father, the Spaniard, and many wedding guests found the lovers. Her father tried to order her to get back to the wedding, but she wasn’t listening.

The young lovers tied their long shiny hair together in a tight knot. They held each other and kissed one last time. Then they jumped.

It was a long way down. There’s a lot of pointy coral down there.

Map:

Posted in Chiba 県, Guam, Honshū, Japan, Tamuning, Tokyo 都, Tōgane 市, Umatac, United States, The | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Guam: Tano Y Chamorro

Posted by Heliocentrism on February 28, 2010

February 22-23, 2010

All Pictures

It’s over there!

Can We See Point Udall?

This is the question we asked at the Naval Base Guam Navel Security Force. The initial response was, “Point what?” I had to explain what I wanted.

You see, I was born in the USVI on the island of St. Croix. St. Croix, like Guam, is a US territory that has been colonized by many countries. On this island that was my home for the first 16 years of my life, there is a point which is the easternmost point of the US. It is called Point Udall.

My Point Udall was named after Steward Udall. Why was this point named after a senator from Arizona who had nothing to do with the USVI or USVI politics? Well, I don’t know. But not only did he get this point named after him, his little brother got a point named after him as well. Guam’s Point Udall was named after Mo Udall.

I’ve been to Point Udall, or Udall Point as it was called when I lived in the VI, many times. I thought it would be cool to visit the other Point Udall, which is the westernmost part of the US.

I told all this to the man at the counter in charge of giving day passes to civilians accompanied by military personnel on base. He had never heard of the place and thought we wanted to see Udoll Island. I’m not sure if Udall Point and Udoll Island are related since the spelling is different. But Point Udall is also known by its former name “Point Orote”.

I think I can see the thing blocking Point Udall…

Where’s my rock?

That’s where we met Officer Tomasiak. He introduced himself as the only Japanese-American on the Guam police force. He thought it was so strange that we would want to see such an ordinary thing as Orote Point, that he stopped to listen to my story. Then he officially escorted us onto the base.

He took us in his pick-up. We got to the entrance to Orote Point, but there was a guard there and a sign that said, “restricted access”. He drove us around the base to find spots where we could try to see the point. He even let us stand on his truck. But we could not see Point Udall.

감자탕!

Eating in Disappointment.

For dinner that night, Mark and I found a nice Korean restaurant and ate some 감자탕. You have no idea how much I love 감자탕! It almost made up for not seeing point Udall, almost…

* “Tano y Chamorro” means Land of the Chamorro. It’s what’s on the license plates here.

All Pictures


 

The United States of America

How to get there:

You can enter my country by land, air, or sea. But I think flight would be your transportation method of choice.

I have no clue how to get a visa to the US or who needs one. Just assume that you need one if you are not American or Canadian and check with your local US embassy.

Phone:

  • Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.

Guam

How to Get There:

From Bangkok –

  • The best airline that I found to get to Guam from Bangkok was Philippines Airline.
  • There’s a long stop over in Manila’s airport.

Guam has one commercial airport, the Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport. It’s near Hagatna.

You pretty much have to fly into Guam. There are not boats, and trains are just ridiculous.

Websites:

Notes:

  • Guam is a territory of the United States. This means that if you are American, you do not need a passport to travel to Guam.
  • If you are not an American, then you will need the same visa to enter Guam that you would need to get into the continental United States.
  • The people of Guam are United States citizens, just at a better climate.
  • You can only us US dollars here.
  • I recommend renting a car unless you are with a tour group.
  • Although Guam is a small island, it is not anywhere small enough to just walk around.
  • The beaches here are great.
  • There are 2 military bases on the island.
  • Forget about seeing Point Udall. Just forget it!

Plaza de Espana

How to get there:

  • 13°28’26.0″N 144°45’06.0″E
  • The Spanish plaza is in Hagatna off Route 1 between Seaton Blvd and Murray Blvd.

Address:

Agana, Guam, Mariana Islands

Websites:

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • Everything is pretty much out in the open and can be viewed at any time.

Latte Stone

How to get there:

  • 13°28’20.9″N 144°45’06.5″E
  • The stones are behind the Plaza de Espana on Santo Papa Juan Dos street.

Website

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • Everything is out in the open and can be seen at any time.

Note:

  • I’m not sure what they were used for.

War in the Pacific National Historical Park

How to get there:

  • 13°27’57.3″N 144°42’39.4″E

There are many parks that make up this National park.

The one in the picture to the right is in Asan off Route 1, past the Governor’s Office but before the Fish Eye Marine Park Observatory.

Address:

Superintendent
135 Murray Boulevard
Hagåtña, Guam 96910

Phone: (671) 477-7278

Website

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • 7:00 – 17:00

Talofofo Bay

How to get there:

  • 13°20’14.1″N 144°46’00.1″E
  • On Route 4 in Talofofo. It’s near Inarajan.

Website

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • Always available.

Notes:

  • There is a WWII Japanese Navy Transport ship, the Aratama Maru, sunk in this bay.
  • It was brought down by an American submarine, the USS Seahorse, on April 8, 1944.
  • It took 18 years for the Aratama Maru to completely sink.

Statue of Gadao

How to get there:

  • 13°16’32.9″N 144°44’53.5″E
  • This statue is in the village of Inarajan on Route 4. Don’t drive too fast, or you’ll miss it.

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • The statue is out in the open and can be visited at any time.

Notes:

  • Gadao is a legendary hero of the island of Guam.
    • He is said to have made the painting in Gadao’s Cave.
  • There is a little village nearby. If you visit early enough in the day (Before 17:00) you can walk through and buy local food.

Ypao Beach Park

How to get there:

  • 13°30’13.8″N 144°47’31.3″E
  • This beach is in Tamuning off of Route 14. It’s not very far from the Hilton and right in front of the Gov. Joseph Flores Beach Park.

Address:

255 Gun Beach Tumon, Guam 96911
Mariana Islands

Cost:

  • Free

Notes:

  • This is a great beach for snorkeling. It gets deep very quickly and there are tons of fish everywhere. Mark got many pictures of fish with his waterproof camera.
  • If you do go to this beach, or any beach in Guam, DO NOT go out to the breakers. They look pretty, but do not leave the calm water. The current out there is very strong and many tourists have died. There are also many coral reefs. Corral can be very sharp and you don’t want to be pushed into corral by strong waves.
  • There is a large picnic area at this beach. I don’t remember whether or not there were any grills. There is also an open shower (no walls) to rinse off sand. But unfortunately there are no changing rooms. As far as I could see there is no charge to use any of the facilities.

The T. Stell Newman Visitor Center

How to get there:

  • 13°25’20.2″N 144°40’30.9″E
  • This is in Santa Rita at the end of Route 1 right before the Naval Base.

Phone:

  • (671) 333-405

Notes:

  • This is part of the War in the Pacific National Historical Park, so much of the information is the same as the entry above.

If you’ve read some of my blog entries like the one about the Seodaemun Prison or the one about the Hangil Memorial Hall, you already know that Japan was up to some no good shenanigans during the early part of the last century.  I know they are very friendly and polite now, but back in the day they were dead set on expanding their territory.

One of the places they had their eyes on was the little island of Guam. They wanted the Americans out. At the time, the US didn’t think much of Guam, until they lost it. Before WWII Guam was just one of the spoils of war from the Spanish American War in 1898. They never thought of it as being a crucial spot from which to watch Japan.

American Letter of Surrender to the Japanese

When the Japanese invaded Guam on December 8, 1941, the Americans had already run away, leaving the Chamorro people to defend themselves. The Japanese occupied Guam for 31 months. During this time many of the Chamorro people were tortured, enslaved, and killed.

The US did return and recaptured the island on July 21, 1944. Very few Japanese soldiers surrendered or allowed themselves to be taken. Many of them died by way of suicide.

Shortly after this the US enacted the Guam Organic Act in 1950. This gave the Guamese US citizenship. Why they were not considered US citizens before is beyond me.

But now let me get to a quite interesting story, indeed. During the Battle of Guam when the US took back its land in the Pacific, there were more than 18,000 Japanese killed and less than 500 captured. There was one Japanese soldier that was neither killed nor captured. Well… actually there were ten of them.

The last of the ten, who remained in the jungles of Guam for about 27 years after the war ended was Shoichi Yokoi. His last fellow soldiers died 8 years before he was discovered.

Yokoi stayed hidden the Talofofo cave even after reading leaflets dropped from planes informing him that the war was over.  Why didn’t he come out of hiding? It might have something to do with his first quote since returning to Japan. “It is with much embarrassment that I have returned alive.”

Yokoi was just the 3rd to last Japanese WWII soldier to surrender. The other two were hiding out in the Philippines and Taiwan.

This is a book written about Yokoi’s life, but is now out of print.


Point Udall

How to get there:

  • 13°26’45.8″N 144°37’09.3″E

You can’t. So just forget about it..

Address:

On the military base in a restricted area.

Notes:

Point Udall is the Westernmost part of the US. There is a small monument that people used to be able to visit. A US Naval Base, has since been built there, so there is no hope of any mere civilian or any military personnel without the right clearance of ever seeing it.

Maybe one day it will be opened up to the public once again.

Map:

Posted in Asan, Guam, Hagåtña, Inarajan, Santa Rita, Talofofo, Tamuning, United States, The | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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