Shawn Aarons- Principal/ Educator

Shawn Aarons, Principal, Dunoon Tech

  1. When, how long and where were you in Japan?

    I was in Japan from July 2000-July 2002.

  2. How was your time in Japan? What were some highlights/things you wish had done differently?

    The two years spent can be described with one word – subarashikatta!! From the pre-departure orientation to the closing ceremony marking the end of my two years, it was a package of new experiences with people from all strata and age groups in Japan. My great memories of riding along the Shimanto Gawa to work, meeting with other JETs and private teachers at Hirome Ichiba or just having ramen with a group of obaasans are priceless. Striking relations with my barber who meticulously created a formula to cut my hair as I was the first black person's hair he was cutting in 20 years – we created a great bond. The cooking classes and fun times at kadai kenkyuu are cherished times that I wish I could take back to Jamaica. I must say that being in Japan taught me a lot about me and Jamaica. The experience, friends and cultural exchange will stay with me forever.

    3. What was it like for you when you first returned to Jamaica?

    When I came home after my two-year stint I truly understood what was reverse culture shock. People looked taller, they said I spoke too slowly, I bowed when greeting people and I took off my shoes to enter homes and offices. What was disappointing was that no one greeted you when you entered a building. I spent a lot time explaining to people that I was not in China.

    4. Tell us a bit about your current job/projects.

    I was a trained teacher before going to Japan so I was not new to the classroom. My current job (principal) requires me to manage a team of teachers, office administrators, and support staff on a daily basis. As the accountable officer, I have to utilize strategies to maximize human and non-human resources in line with Ministry of Education strategic objectives, parents' expectations, teacher demands, while molding today’s children for the future.

    5. How has the experience in Japan influenced what you are currently doing?

    My experience as a JET has helped be to be a better teacher and administrator: discipline, planning, teamwork among others are just a few things that I have utilized from the Japanese.

    6. What advice would you give to someone who is interested in going to Japan on the JET Programme?

    To have a great experience on the JET Programme you have to be open and willing to learn. Develop a sense of respect for people, their culture and their requests. In essence, you have to really be humble and willing to share your experiences and self with others.

    7. What advice would you give to someone who is about to return or who has recently returned to Jamaica from Japan?

    Whether you just returned or are about to return to Jamaica from the JET Programme, it is important to note that things have not stood still since you left. Be willing to re-learn, exercise humility and pace yourself in how you share your enthusiasm and experiences about Japan. People will be happy to see you but the novelty wears off quickly as Jamaica has become a more fast paced society with everyone busy doing or looking for something. Make links with JET members in Jamaica and network, network, network.

    8. Would you return to live in Japan? Why or why not?

    Japan is great place to live. However, I have only experienced it as someone in a privileged position for a fixed period. Living and working in Japan would depend on you: Are you single? Where are you in terms of your career? What are your goals? I would certainly live in Japan but I am not seeing it as my country of retirement. Japan is more than the land of the rising sun; it’s a place of unique experiences every day; a place where the simplest thing can become a ceremony and the strangest things can have a festival around it…. Nippon tanoshikatte ne!!!


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