Story by Larissa Wurm
Photo courtesy of Jodi Dobinsky
Upon graduation, three of Drake’s students will be heading to Japan as part of a prestigious teaching program.
Seniors Cherri Cathi, an international relations major, Jennifer Cerna, a psychology and neuroscience major, and Jodi Dobinsky, an international relations major with a minor in anthropology, have been accepted into the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program.
JET is an internationally competitive program that allows graduates to travel to Japan and teach English in their schools. The goal is to promote “grassroots international exchange between
“We want to take the experiences we got in Japan back with us and promote the culture in the United States,” Dobinsky said.
Dobinsky applied as part of continuing efforts to go to Japan after natural disasters affecting the area ruined previous travel plans, but also thought she would like the program because she enjoys teaching.
Cerna lived in Japan, and that is one of the motivating factors for her applying to the program.
“I was looking for some graduation options,” Cerna said. “I heard about (the program) my sophomore year and my friends had been talking about it.”
Cathi travelled to Japan previously and is eager to go back.
“I studied abroad in Japan for a year,” Cathi said. “I really wanted to go back and be immersed in the culture.”
“Post-graduate participation in the JET program is one of the many areas in which we have focused our attention in the past couple of years,” said Mary McCarthy, professor of politics and international relations. “This is due to the fact that the JET program is an excellent opportunity for any student interested in Japan and/or teaching and working abroad.”
Each of the students has had some experience teaching in the past, whether it was tutoring or teaching in workshops.
The application process to get into the program is long one.
“We sent our applications in November,” Dobinski said. “Then we wait until about February, where we learn if we were put on the short-list or not. If we are placed on the short-list, we wait to find out what city we are placed in. Currently, we are still waiting to find out where we’ll be.”
McCarthy has been making a big effort to make sure the success of these three students is known among campus.
“For me, this accomplishment attests to the commitment and hard work of the three students in relation to the study of Japan and Japanese, the growing strength of our Japan/East Asia program here at Drake, and the efforts of the faculty,” McCarthy said.
“Professor McCarthy is really excited about us getting into JET, and she is getting us really excited about it too,” Dobinski said.
Because of the prestige and competitiveness of the program, participants gain a number of skills to help them in their careers.
“Participants of the program develop the skills, such as communication, teaching, language, and adaptability, and gain the experience that make them assets in any work environment,” McCarthy said. “JET alum have gone on to exciting careers in many different fields, including diplomacy, media, education and business.”
Dobinsky hopes to get into foreign services after she finishes the JET program.
Cathi wants to go into non-profit work in Japan and eventually work there as a foreign ambassador.
“It’ll teach me how to be more flexible and adaptable,” Cerna said. “I don’t want to get too comfortable in one place, I’m used to moving around.”
After JET, Cerna hopes to get her masters in social work.
“I want everyone to know how much we’ve accomplished as a program, with Cherri, Jennifer and Jodi as the representatives of this success,” McCarthy said. “I want students throughout Drake to be aware of our great Japan and East Asia program and that this amazing opportunity of JET exists for you after graduation.”
In the past, Drake has only had one, if any, person get accepted into the program each year.
“It’s a good opportunity,” Cathi said. “You don’t have to speak Japanese. Everyone can apply.”
“There’s a really tight knit Japanese community on campus,” Dobinsky said. “We work hard, especially with the study abroad programs, and we try to make the program better.”