I had my interview with JET today at noon. Everything turned out o.k., but for entertainment value I will give you the run down.
I had to drive from Milwaukee to Chicago. I left Milwaukee at 830am and arrived in Chicago at 1000am. It was snowing pretty fierce when I left Milwaukee which was great because one of my wipers doesn't work. I arrived in Chicago and got to the proximal area of the embassy. I parked in a structure that I knew would cost me a lot, but it was close and I wanted to make sure that I was on time. I changed into my getup, which was nice slacks, shirt, and tie. No Jacket thank you. I searched for the building and couldn't find 723 n. Michigan Avenue. It didn't exist. So I called my friend Ryan, who went into my email and retrieved the address, 737 n. Michigan Avenue. Thanks Ryan.
I went up to the suite and checked in with the front desk, then went to the bathroom to brush my teeth. A little tip, you can easily and cleanly fit a travel toothbrush and tube in your pocket for such times. I then sat for about fifteen minutes with a bunch of other applicants who were more sharply dressed than I, but looked so green I thought it was spring. Four of us were called in at one time, each assigned to a different panel consisting of three people. I liked my group. I had a man who was about 30-35, Japanese, very well spoken English and relaxed. I also had a woman who was my age, 25ish, she was a former ALT. Lastly I had another man, about 35, who was a little less relaxed and spoke English just a hair less than fluently and was very quiet. The quiet guy only asked two questions I think, so let's pass his questions up. The other two were more engaging.
Ok JET applicants, this is the part you are looking for. The first question they asked me was, "Why do you want to come to Japan?" I answered, "I want to come to Japan to experience the different religions and culture of Japan. I have read that Japan is uniquely unique and I want to explore that more." The asked me about my criminal record, how I would teach Christmas to a classroom, how would I handle culture shock, how I would handle living in a small town, how would I feel if my coop treated me like a tape recorder, what kind of school clubs could I run. I also mentioned that I had a friend in JET who was signing for another year. They asked where she lived and then one guy said, "Ok, what horror stories has she told you?" I said, "Nothing, almost all of it has been positive which is why I am very interested in joining the program myself." They pressed me again for some bad things, so I told them about how during the rainy season on Okinawa she had trouble with some mold on the floor mats of her apartment. They liked to hear that.
After I mentioned religion in the first answer they kept coming back to that. I had more than a few questions about religions and what I hoped to explore with that in Japan. I remember one was, "If someone said that Christianity and Americans were violent and used Iraq as an example what would you tell them to change their mind." I think I answered that, "Some Christians and Americans are violent, but to characterize an entire society by the actions of its government is not right and will lead you to incorrect assumptions." To which they replied, "Do you mean the American government or the current administration?" To which I replied, "The current administration of course. Our president has less than a 33% approval rating, meaning that less than 1/3 of Americans approve of the actions he is taking in office. Obviously he is not a good representation of America."
I think that fact that I had lived in Egypt was a plus, they kept bringing up culture shock, sticking out in the crowd, having the community watch you, and such things. It was nice that I could answewr with a, "been there, done that"
They did ask at the end of the interview if I had any question, to which I replied,
"I have lots of questions. The more I research the more answers I find, but I also find more questions. I have too many to ask you right now, but since I have you here before me I would like to ask you this. You are all obviously dedicated to this program. In your own words and opinions what is it about Japan or JET that you would tell me or someone else that would attract me or them to it?"
I think that I stumped them with that. I am not sure if that was good or bad. The former JET answered, the other two didn't.
I got a good feeling as I left, they all gave me big smiles and that was it. I am pretty sure that I was the first one to get out of the four of us that went in, but I was also the first to go in. During the interview there were no awkward pauses or stuttering. I didn't fidget or slouch. It was good. I also didn't cross my legs because I had read a blog previously warning against that. I have high hopes. I don't see why they wouldn't take me. Seriously, compared with the lot that I saw, I am obviously the best candidate. Now I just have to wait until the first week of April to find out if I am in or not. In the meantime I will pursue job leads in the states.