August 18, 2016 | Jacquelyn Hubbard

For as long as she can remember Roz Scoular ’13 has loved spending time with children. At Calvin, Scoular learned about the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme from her Calvin professor Professor Larry Herzberg, who also wrote her a letter of recommendation for her application process. By August 2014, she was on her way to Ono City, Japan, to engage her love for teaching and working with children by becoming an elementary school teacher. 

The JET Programme is a partnership between the Japanese government and various governments of English-speaking countries that hires English teachers and international relations coordinators. With a bachelor’s degree in Japanese and international relations, Scoular was the perfect candidate for the JET Programme.

Although Scoular’s official title is assistant language teacher, most JETs are also cultural ambassadors to both their students and their communities. In the two elementary schools where she teaches, Scoular fulfills both roles.

Each day, Scoular teaches three to five class periods of English that pertain to vocabulary, phonics and basic questions and sentences. She tries to primarily speak English with her students and uses large gestures and pictures to demonstrate what she is trying to communicate. The rest of her time is spent planning lessons, making worksheets and flashcards, and playing with students during their breaks.

Worthwhile challenges

Although working around language and cultural barriers has been challenging, Scoular says speaking English with her students makes the challenges worthwhile. 

“One little girl has introduced herself to me in English every time she sees me for the past eight months,” she said. “Another time, a student came to the office to ask for some more tennis balls. She asked for them in some broken English. After I gave them to her, she ran back to her friends and told them excitedly, ‘I did it! I had an English conversation with Miss Roz for the first time!’ That was a very rewarding moment for me.”

Scoular attributes her preparedness for teaching to Calvin’s Japanese and Asian studies departments, as well as her study abroad experience. She also participated in Model United Nations, was part of the first Japan House community, and was a member of the Grassroots floor in the van Reken Hall for two years, which explores race and ethnicity. 

Sharing cultures

Since moving abroad, Scoular has been able to exercise her love for travel by exploring Japan and beyond. She also loves TV shows, movies and books, particularly the Harry Potter series. “I enjoy sharing my love of Harry Potter with my students, and they love when I know their favorite Japanese characters,” she said.

Scoular is also very passionate about social justice issues, and is thankful that her time at Calvin helped open her eyes to issues and topics through conversations, Calvin sponsored events, class discussions and her Grassroots community.

Scoular recommends anyone who wishes to work abroad to consider the JET Programme: “My work is highly rewarding and I have grown so much as a person since I moved here.”

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