On October 3rd, the Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu hosted their annual welcome back reception for the JET Program participants who recently returned to the island. This year, the consulate welcomed back 12 JET participants. Helping to celebrate the occasion, supporting university professors, various volunteer group representatives, local Japanese media, and Hawaii JET alumni were in attendance.
MC for the event was JET Coordinator at the Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu, Ms. Lisa Sakamoto. Consul General Toyoei Shigeeda gave a heartfelt opening speech, which expressed great satisfaction towards the returning JETs as they fulfilled their obligation of being splendid ambassadors and promoters of international exchange. He also noted his desire for the returning participants to continue promoting the JET Program and intercultural exchange here in Hawaii. Through their first-hand insight and positive experiences, it is hoped that more young people can learn from these new JET alumni and be motivated to participate in the program themselves.
Speaking on behalf of the JET returnees, Mr. Richard Kiyabu (Hiroshima ALT) presented the audience with his own positive experience through narration, video, and song. A very entertaining presentation, Rich shared photos & video of his time in Kui, Hiroshima. Rich shared some of his cherished memories of his experience. He often referred to Kui as his hometown and it was easy to see how much of a positive impact his JET experience had on him. Along with photos & video, Rich’s presentation also came complete with a musical rendition of AKB48’s ヘビーローテーション. Rich had everyone clapping and singing along with smiles on their faces, including Consul General Shigeeda, as he jammed along on his ukulele.
Other speakers included Selection Committee member Dr. Robert Huey, JETAA Hawaii President Jason Yumen, and Center for Career Development & Student Employment counselor at the University of Hawaii Manoa Ms. Melanie Takahashi.
After the formal program, a group photo of all those in attendance were taken. JETAA Hawaii took a moment to congratulate all the returnees on a job well done and to inform them of up-coming JETAA Hawaii events and volunteer efforts. Guests were then ushered to the dining area and treated to a lovely buffet dinner prepared by the consulate’s gourmet kitchen. Guests enjoyed their dinner, along with pleasant conversation at their tables over looking the grassy lawn area. Individual JET experiences and stories were shared. There was a lot of smiles and laughter throughout dinner. The night ended with Consul General Shigeeda bidding his guests at the door a good night, good luck, and his hope to see them again soon.