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JET Spotlight: Jenni Edwards

17th January 2018

JET Spotlight: Jenni Edwards

Jenni Edwards took two years out of a high-flying career in PR to participate in the JET Programme. She worked as an ALT in Nagasaki, as well as keeping busy as Director of Public Relations for AJET and editor of a local magazine. 

Back in the UK, she has recently sat JLPT N2 and continues to travel extensively. She told JETLAG about her experience on JET and beyond. 

1. What inspired you to join the JET Programme?

I started studying Japanese on a whim after graduating – both to challenge myself, and in the hope that I’d meet a handsome future diplomat boyfriend at evening classes (I didn’t). Three years into my career, I decided I wanted to live in and experience a different culture. Japan was the obvious choice, and I’d heard great things about the JET Programme.

2. How did you find your experiences as a JET?

Moving to a country with a culture and language so different from your own is not without its challenges. But, on balance, my time on the JET programme was the happiest two years of my life. Highlights included two seasons with a local ladies' Peron (dragon boating) team, and a year as editor-in-chief of Nagasaki’s English language magazine, Nagazasshi.

3. What have you been doing since finishing JET?

I returned to my career in public relations, which has allowed me to continue to indulge my passion for travelling. I used my first paycheque to book a holiday to Japan, and subsequently visited Jordan, Egypt and Denmark. I’ve also been enjoying going to museums and art galleries in London (where I live) – something I really missed in small-town Japan.

4. How do you think your current role can further UK-Japan ties?

We have a few Japanese companies as clients, so I’m on hand to answer any cultural or linguistic questions. I also spoke about my time in Japan at an introductory presentation to my colleagues (all new joiners give one!), covering everything from cat cafes to the Okayama naked man festival (‘Hadaka Matsuri’), with a view to developing intercultural understanding and interest.

5. What are your professional and personal Japan-related goals?

I want to conclude my Japanese language education by passing JLPT N1 – although it’s tricky finding time to study with a busy job! Professionally speaking, I have a dream to set up my own business providing boutique tours to Japanese tourists, showing them some of London’s lesser known spots. Improving my Japanese is the first step to achieving this.

6. What did you learn during JET that you've taken into life and career? 

I try to extend a Japanese sense of courtesy in my workplace – saying “good morning” to as many of my colleagues as possible, buying a small gift if someone helps me, bringing back omiyage from holiday... Two years in Japan showed me that such gestures can really make a difference – although its possible my co-workers privately think I’m creepy!

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