American Abroad: The Life of a Young Teacher in Japan

03/22/2011 04:54 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Anna Ho, 24, is managing to see the calmness around her as she finishes her teaching contract in Japan, more than 5,000 miles away from home, during an earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster. A native of Rosemead, CA, she is in her third year of the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Program (JET), and currently teaches English to 12 - 15 year-olds in the Fukui Prefecture. The JET program brings more than 4,000 English teachers to Japan from 36 countries every year.

My name is Anna Ho, I'm 24 years old, and I'm currently a third-year JET in Fukui Prefecture Japan.

Actually it's been a really busy couple of days because right after all of this happened we were preparing for graduation. My students graduated this week, so I didn't really have class with them. We weren't able to address anything about the tsunami or earthquake. Even then I don't think that's something that we would do -- that's more of the Japanese teacher's role as far as I understand.

Life is just continuing as normal here. Graduation was actually kind of a breath of fresh air. Because it gave us a break from hearing all of the devastating news. It was nice to be able to see students move on and go to high school and cry over leaving their friends. Everything was normal for once.

We've been hearing news from the Japanese media. I try to stay away from Western media as far as the big news places go, because it's just way sensationalized. It's just freaking everybody out and making it out to be worse than it actually is. Those JETs who can speak Japanese and who are helping out, they're watching the news, they're spreading the news to us. We're getting news from English versions of Japanese newspapers and we're staying afloat that way.

I definitely think that the collectivist mindset reigns supreme here. Everyone's just doing what they can to help out. No one's freakin' out, no one's looting or doing things to benefit themselves. It's just about taking care of everyone and making sure everyone's alright.

I want to see if I can engage my students in helping with the volunteer efforts. There are volunteer groups in all the schools so I think they would be a great resource to tap into, and inspire them.

In terms of addressing our students there can be lessons planned about this, writing letters to those affected, letting them know we care, things like that. It definitely can be addressed in the classroom.

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