Kumamoto Orientation 終了!
From August 15-17, all new 42 JET ALTs and CIRs in Kumamoto Prefecture and Kumamoto City participated in the 2012 Kumamoto Orientation.  お疲れ様でした!This year's orientation included workshops conducted by sempai JETs from every corner of the prefecture, a day of Japanese lessons conducted by the teachers at Koto College, a fabulous keynote speech, introductions by the lovely KumAJET representatives, a riveting presentations from the PAs about terms and conditions, and even a little karashi-renkon taste-testing.  There was also a free, English tour of Kumamoto Castle conducted by the students of Kumamoto Kita SHS, a beer garden party (without the students) at Kenmin Hyakkaten, and a KumAJET-sponsored pub crawl afterward.  Local TV stations came to interview students from Kumamoto Shogyo SHS, who were passing out free English maps of the Suizenji area to first-year JETs.  

Thank you to all the participants, and thank you to all of the presenters and those who contributed their time and energy to making this year's Kumamoto Orientation a success! 
Kumamoto International Foundation (KIF) Disaster Information Email Service  
One of the questions that came up during this year's Kumamoto Orientation was how English-speaking foreigners can get information in English when there is a disaster.  The Kumamoto International Foundation has a mail magazine called Anshin Anzen (Safe and Secure).  If you sign up for this free service, you will get monthly updates on disaster prevention and living information relevant to Kumamoto.  You will also receive information about evacuations if such notices are issued. To sign up for the KIF Disaster Information Email Service, please do the following:
You will receive an email with a link to a registration page. It seems you can't change the email address you want to register, so if you want the information sent to your keitai, you should send the blank email from your keitai.
Japanese Language Acquisition Workshop Summary  
Many first-year JETs asked to have asked us to send them the workshop materials used by presenters at Kumamoto Orientation.  Here is the Learning Japanese workshop summary.  We will continue to post the notes and other materials of Kumamoto Orientation workshop presenters as time goes on.  So back in a little.  Happy Studying!!!
A Few Announcements  
The International Affairs Division is now accepting submissions for the Autumn edition of The YOKA, which is scheduled to be sent out by mid October.   You can:
Write an article.  This can be about pretty much anything you want, as long it relates somehow to Kumamoto, Japan, teaching, or international exchange.    Did you do something really interesting this summer?   Attend a fun event?  New JETs, do you have any reflections about the first months of your JET experience? There is no limit on length.  Pictures to supplement your words are also highly recommended.  
Take a picture.  Kumamoto is a beautiful place.  Especially in Autumn.  If you have any photos of Kumamoto that you would like to share, please send us the picture, your name, where the picture was taken, and the title of the pic.  All photos will be in color (unless otherwise requested).  
Other.  Contributions are not just limited to articles and pictures.  The previous YOKA contained a collection of senryu poems in English.  We are always looking for creative ways to make  the YOKA better, so your ideas and creativity are more than welcome.  
Please send us your submissions to kumamotopa@gmail.com by Monday, October 9.  
The YOKA is a unique space to share your ideas, reflect on your experiences, promote events, or share your artistic talents.  It's also a nice addition to your resume!  

On Social Media and Posting Photos

In this day and age where anyone can take a picture and post it on any of the social media sites they subscribe to, we are all faced with decisions about what to post and what not to post.  We often find ourselves directly affected by what others do online. At some point all of us have probably been surprised to see photos of ourselves tagged on Facebook at events we barely remember attending, some of them way back in the past.  The ease with which anybody can share photos in public raises interesting issues about privacy in both our personal and professional lives.  

Kumamoto JETs come from many different countries and backgrounds.  Workplace expectations and attitudes in one's home country may differ from Japan.  In our roles as professionals working in the Japanese education system, however, we are expected to follow the ethical framework that informs the way information, pictures, and other private matters can be shared by educational professionals.  More specifically, educational professionals in Japan such as ourselves are expected to obtain the permission of a student's parents as well as the school (preferably the principle) if we want to post pictures of that student on a social media site or anywhere online.  An important issue if we do seek permission to post is the context in which the post is made.  Are we posting to enhance the lives of our students and schools in our role as educators, or are we posting to enhance our personal life? As these are not our children and we are not their family members, we feel that in addition to always obtaining the permission of the students' family and school, all JETs have a responsibility to keep the pictures of students we post within the context of our role as educators.  We might be friendly with our students and have a very close working relationship but it is important to remember they are minors and we have been given the responsibility (and privilege) of being their teachers.  As public servants in Japan, our professional lives extend to our students, teachers and colleagues we work with; photos of our friends and family are in the personal domain of our lives and how we share these pictures is an entirely different issue.  

Privacy laws in Japan are fairly recent and some boards of education are more relaxed about boundaries and the way information is shared.  Recently in Kumamoto there have been a few situations where USBs containing sensitive confidential information related to students have been lost by teachers.  This has resulted in a more vigilant awareness of how student information is shared.  At present if a school wants to use a picture of a student to publish on the school website or create a computer list of photos of all their students, they have to obtain the permission of the student's parents.  Even if your school is more relaxed about sharing information and photos, please keep in mind that can change very quickly if sensitive information is lost or something happens that compromises the privacy or safety of students or teachers.  Being vigilant from the outset is a good way to avoid unwanted consequences.  

Here are a couple examples/cases from other prefectures illustrating why posting pictures of students can become an issue:

  • In one instance an ALT had photos of students uploaded to his Facebook account.  This ALT did not teach these particular students, and though these students were underage they were not in uniform.  One of the students in the photos was killed in an accident.  A BOE employee was concerned about how this was being publicized and did an online search. There was a link to the ALT's Facebook page.  The ALT thought he was just taking a random photo of some kids and then posting it on Facebook, so he felt there were no problems.  However the Board of Education took it more seriously and it caused a huge uproar, as it was also found out that the ALT had used a school computer to upload the photos.  
  • Some boards of education have also expressed concern about students whose mother has left an abusive partner.  If the child's photo is posted online the abusive partner may find the child.  

Though it's easy to upload pictures without much thought, these examples from other prefectures really show how serious this issue can become, and help us realize the importance of reflection and restraint when posting any picture online.   

This is certainly not to take a position that somehow we the PAs are above this, as these issues effect our lives, too.  We are also constantly forced to consider the effects of what we decide to post or share online in both our professional and private lives.  In our professional lives, we must adhere to the same standards that ALTs are held to in schools.  When uploading new content to the Kumamoto JET website, for instance, we will always ask for your permission if we want to upload your name and/or picture for any reason.   

We all live in a world where technology can open new worlds and make us much more connected.  While this is exciting, it also poses a challenge as we consider the ethics of privacy and how we respect the privacy of others.  The concept of "privacy" itself and how to protect it is changing, and the way people think about privacy can differ depending on context and whom you ask.  Regardless of this uncertainty, as educational professionals we hold positions of power in relation to our students, and we have a responsibility to respect the privacy of the lives of the students we work alongside and their family's right to make decisions in relation to their privacy.  

If you have any questions about this, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Kind Regards,

-The PAs


Language Box

Japanese Phrase of the Week
のれん に 腕押し 
noren ni udeoshi

意味 (meaning):
Literally, "pushing a noren," referring to something that is completely ineffective. A noren is a fabric divider often hung in thresholds of doors or the entrance to shops.  Pushing a noren accomplishes nothing because the norenmerely gives way and your effort is wasted.  
Obscure English Word of the Week
an abnormal fear of developing a phobia

example sentence:
We have no phobia to fear but phobophobia itself.  

・If you have been to a good English-speaking doctor, please email the PAs about it.

・Good luck with the new semester of classes! 

Important upcoming dates:

・Starting in October - New ES/JHS ALT School Visits  
Upcoming Events:

・September 5 - Taco Night, 7PM at Tortacos, Kumamoto City
・September 26 & 27 - Ashikita Beach Party, Otachimisaki Park, Ashikita, check-in starts at 4PM

Area Guide


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