17 Jul 2019
2nd April 2018
JET Spotlight: Alison Bond
Alison Bond was an ALT in Shingu, Hyogo Prefecture (the above photo was taken on a recent visit to her old apartment!). Returning to the UK, she continued to work in education, coordinating partnerships for Warwickshire County Council and then Warwick University. She is now Director of External Relations at Oxford Brookes University.
Alison has also previously been Chair of JETAA UK and then JETAA International. JETLAG caught up with her to reflect on her experiences and learn how she maintains connections with Japan.
1. What inspired you to join the JET Programme?
As a modern languages student, I had already experienced the excitement and inspiration that comes from living in a culture and learning a language that is not your own. The JET programme offered me the opportunity to move to the other side of the world and to completely immerse myself in Japanese community life and work.
2. How did you find your experiences as a JET?
I loved every moment! I was based in three schools, all of which were in rural communities. In the village I lived, I think I was the first westerner to have ever lived there! This meant I was totally spoilt both at school and at home by people wanting to spend time with me and introduce me to their world.
3. What have you been doing since finishing JET?
I have stayed in the education field all my working life and latterly in the field of Alumni and External Relations. Actually, it was the JET Programme I have to thank for this highly rewarding career. When I returned, I set up the JETAA Midlands chapter, then went on to become Chair of JETAA UK, and finally Chair of JETAA International. It was the most amazing opportunity to be able to keep my ties to Japan and the JET Programme, and to help further promote JET.
4. How do you think your current role can further UK-Japan ties?
My current role involves building university alumni networks across the world and we have recently established a group in Tokyo. This enables us to promote UK university education in Japan, and to keep the bond strong between our Japanese alumni and the UK.
5. What are your professional and personal Japan-related goals?
My main ambition as I get a little older is to be sure to maintain the wonderful friendships I made in Japan. One of my dear friends has just become a grandfather and we went to see him and the new addition to his family last November. When I went on the JET Programme his daughter had just been born! JET gives you lifelong opportunities and friendships.
6. What did you learn or discover during JET that you've taken into your life and career?
I learned never to impose your own views or expectations on others. There are so many different cultures, beliefs and traditions across the world and they all have their place. Embracing difference also helps you to understand the many ways in which people all over the world are inherently the same at heart.