12 Jan 2020
15th October 2019
JET Spotlight: Luke Happle
Photo: Luke (left) representing Ashinaga USA at a fundraising event for the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation in Atlanta.
Luke Happle was a CIR and Prefectural Advisor in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. He worked at the Miyagi Prefectural Office and the Miyagi International Association. After the JET Programme, Luke became a Programme Coordinator at CLAIR and International Relations Manager at the National Governors Association of Japan. Today, he works at Ashinaga, a Japanese foundation headquartered in Tokyo, which provides financial support and emotional care to young people around the world who have lost one or both parents. Ashinaga has offices around the world primarily to administer the Ashinaga Africa Initiative (AAI), which supports orphaned students from African countries to pursue higher education overseas. He oversees US operations from Japan.
JETAA UK caught up with him, to learn more about his experiences on JET and beyond:
1. What inspired you to join the JET Programme?
I studied Japanese at SOAS University. Joining the JET Programme as a CIR seemed like a unique opportunity to gain meaningful work experience in a Japanese setting and take my language abilities to the next level.
2. How did you find your experiences as a JET?
The JET Programme was a deeply fulfilling experience professionally and personally. I made lifelong friends around the world and acquired professional skills and experience that I could not have gained anywhere else. In particular, my work during the Great East Japan Earthquake disaster has been a defining experience for me.
3. What have you been doing since finishing JET?
After three years as a Programme Coordinator at CLAIR, I worked as International Relations Manager at the National Governors Association of Japan, where I was tasked with facilitating relationships between US and Japanese governors. Now, I work at the Ashinaga Foundation, an international Japanese NGO. I oversee US operations from Japan.
4. How do you think your current role can further UK-Japan ties?
With my role mainly focused on the US and Japan, the connection with the UK is not obvious, however I hope to continue to be an informal ambassador for the UK to both Japan and the US. Grassroots exchange is becoming increasingly important and I believe that all three countries can learn a lot from each other.
5. What are your professional and personal Japan-related goals?
Learning Japanese and joining the JET Programme opened a world of wonderful opportunities to me, widening my horizons in ways that would have been impossible to foresee. As my career progresses beyond Japan, my primary Japan-related goal is to maintain my Japanese language skills and ties to the country.
6. What did you learn or discover during JET that you've taken into your life and career?
JETs work alongside civil servants and as such their job is to serve their local community whether they are ALTs, CIRs, or SEAs. Being a participant of the JET Programme allowed me to experience the satisfaction and professional fulfillment that can come from working to serve others and further a common good.