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    • An unquenchable passion for new experiences and a desire to learn the cultures of others prompted Terrike Brown to travel more than 12,000 kilometres to the East Asian island of Japan in 2011 to participate in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme.
    • During his four years in Japan, Mr. Brown resided in Omura, Nagasaki, which he says reminds him of Jamaica in terms of its picturesque landscape.
    • Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, says JET, instituted in Jamaica in 2000, has exposed Jamaicans to expertise in new areas, while heightening their cultural awareness of the Asian country.

    An unquenchable passion for new experiences and a desire to learn the cultures of others prompted Terrike Brown to travel more than 12,000 kilometres to the East Asian island of Japan in 2011 to participate in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme.

    At the time, he was working as a research assistant at the Embassy of Japan in Jamaica.

    “Japan was the second largest economy and I just wanted to see how the country had developed, the policies, and to see the people at work. I wanted to be a cultural ambassador for my country,” he tells JIS News.

    During his four years in Japan, Mr. Brown resided in Omura, Nagasaki, which he says reminds him of Jamaica in terms of its picturesque landscape. He informs that Omura is a residential town, noting that persons would “travel to neighbouring towns” for work.

    Mr. Brown tells JIS News that while in Omura, he served as an Assistant Language Teacher of English at an elementary school as well as a junior high school.

    “I would teach elementary school two times a week and junior high school three times a week. Cultural exchange also took place. I’d often do presentations on Jamaica and different cultures. It was more than just teaching English,” he notes.

    He adds that he got involved in cooking sessions, which taught him how to prepare Japanese meals while at the same time teaching the children how to cook Jamaican.

    As the only Jamaican, students found him fascinating and treated him like a celebrity.

    “They would touch my hair and they would ask me about my family,” he jokingly recalls.

    Mr. Brown, who returned to the island in August, says over the four years in Japan, he came to appreciate the country’s rich culture and traditions, where community, discipline, and honour are valued.

    Citing examples, he pointed out that during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil when Japan had played the Ivory Coast and lost, Japanese spectators stayed behind to clean their area of the stadium.

    “From very early, students are taught a sense of civic responsibility, care for your neighbours, your environment, care for your elders,” he points out.

    Mr. Brown hails JET as an excellent programme, which serves to build mutual understanding between the island nations of Jamaica and Japan.

    It also provides a conduit through which both countries can learn more about each and strengthen their over 50 years of diplomatic relationship.

    Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, says JET, instituted in Jamaica in 2000, has exposed Jamaicans to expertise in new areas, while heightening their cultural awareness of the Asian country.

    He notes that the programme is among several initiatives on which Jamaica and Japan have collaborated.

    “We place great value on the technical assistance provided through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to, and the bilateral agreements (initiated for), the education sector,” he says.

    Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy of Japan in Jamaica, Hiromoto Oyama, in hailing the contribution of Jamaicans under JET, says “they (have) made a significant (input) in improving foreign language education and to develop international exchanges at the grassroots level. Thus, they have successfully fostered ties between Japanese youth and Jamaican youth over the years.

    Mr. Oyama attributes JET’s continued success to the support provided by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, and Japan’s Prime Minister, His Excellency Shinzo Abe, who endorsed the engagement during his visit to the island in October.

    Celebrating its 15th anniversary in Jamaica this year, the JET programme aims to promote internationalisation in Japan’s local communities by improving foreign language education and developing international exchange at the community level.    This is achieved by fostering ties between Japanese and foreign youths.

    There are 107 Jamaicans currently engaged in the programme bringing to 292, the number, who have participated since 2000.