While you’re sure to feel natsukashii from time to time, there are so many ways to keep Japan in your life in the Washington, DC area — whether through your job or in your spare time. Marc Hitzig shares a little bit about his personal journey from JET participant to Executive Director of the Japan-America Society of Washington, DC.
First, I would like to welcome the returning JETs to Washington, DC. This time of the year always reminds me of when I first came to Washington over 15 years ago. Coming from Ohio, Washington, DC seemed to be a treasure-trove of international possibilities for work and fun. I found myself excited about all the opportunities the city had (and still has) to offer. I remember knowing I want to work in the “nonprofit world,” but did not know which path to take. Should I go back to school? Should I work first and then go back to school? Should I continue working and make a career out of the so many opportunities? I decided on the latter, and at first, I thought it was a huge mistake. I found myself going from one job to another. Some jobs were international-related and some were not. However, what was always consistent in my life was the connection with Japan. The way I kept my connection with Japan was through the JET Alumni Association and volunteering with Japan-America Society (JASW) year round. With my dedication to JASW and the Sakura Matsuri it opened up doors for more opportunities, not only related to work, but also friendships and great experiences. I have been at JASW, which is my dream job, for over 10 years and do not regret the path I took. I found that each job I had taught me something different, almost like my own paid master’s program. If I was to give the returning JETs one piece of advice, it would be to always stick with your dream and it will payoff in the long run.
The Japan-America Society of Washington, DC (JASWDC) is a great way to stay connected to Japan and make connections in the DC area. In addition to to regular events, opportunities to volunteer at the annual Sakura Matsuri, and Japanese language classes, JASWDC also offers a resume circulation service for those interested in making their interest in Japan more than just a hobby.