The new JET class from Washington, DC departs for Tokyo this Saturday, August 3. Each day this week, we’ll give you a little introduction to some of these new JETs and check back in with them (and other new DC JETs) throughout the year to see how they’re doing.
Name: David Berg
Nicknames: Dave, ManD (pronounced “Man D”)
JET Placement: Chikusa High School, Hyogo
Where I’m from: My hometown is Wilmington, DE, but I live in Wilmington, NC now.
What I studied and where: Aerospace Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park
What I’ve been up to lately: Tutoring a Colombian couple in English, playing lots of golf and beach volleyball, going to baseball games, and spending time with family.
How I learned about JET: A Google search at an Internet cafe in Tanzania. I was researching what I wanted to do next during my 2nd year in the Peace Corps, and JET turned up as a top 3 search hit. I actually wrote a blog entry about it, titled life post-peace corps & pink eye, the day that it happened, March 4th, 2011. One week later, the Great East Earthquake happened. I decided to extend my Peace Corps service a year instead, but I still wanted to go after that, so I went ahead and applied.
What I’m most excited about: My school has a golf team! Who would have thought one of the smallest high schools in Japan would have a golf team, and the chief of English teachers would be the coach! Either the Prefectural BoE saw my previous work as a groundskeeper at a golf course and assumed I played, or they took a serendipitous shot in the dark. Either way, well done BoE!
What I’m most nervous about: Integrating culturally and learning the language. I have experience with both, but it’s always embarrassing to make mistakes.
What I’m most interested in learning: My grandmother was the president of the DC chapter of Ikebana International back in the early 90s, and when I found out I was accepted by JET, she got me to try flower arranging. I don’t know if there are any ikebana groups in my area, but my school has a group that arranges flowers for tea ceremonies.
It’s not practical, but I’m considering packing…my guitar. It went with me to Tanzania and helped me calm my nerves on a number of occasions. It was also a great tool for cultural exchange because Tanzanians absolutely love music!
Place I can’t wait to see: Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya. My family usually traveled during the summer when I was younger, as my dad went on business trips. Wherever we ended up, or spent the night along the way, we would try to see a baseball game or two (or three). We saw quite a few stadiums that way, including Fenway in Boston, the old Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, Candlestick in San Francisco, Milwaukee County in Milwaukee, the Metrodome in Minnesota, Kauffman in Kansas City…the list goes on. My favorite was probably Tiger stadium in Detroit; they had a promotion where you could get a ticket, hot dog, drink, and a newspaper for $10!
What school clubs did you join/visit while on JET? Any advice for getting involved right away?