Oliver Ward ’17 has been named an assistant language teacher by the Japanese Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program.
In his role, Ward, who majored in international political economy, will work alongside his Japanese counterparts to teach English to children of all ages in schools. “I am half-Japanese, which is undoubtedly a factor in my interest in Japan,” says Ward, whose middle name is Mitsuhashi. “I specifically want to work in Japan to learn more about my own cultural heritage.” He also hopes to improve his Japanese, which, he says, “admittedly, is very elementary. I’m going to have to work very hard in the upcoming months to get where I want to be.”
Boston-native Ward hopes to foster a positive and engaging learning environment in the classroom. “From my time as a swim coach, assistant project manager in Boston, volunteer in Nicaragua, and student in Spain, I am well prepared for the assistant language teacher position,” he wrote in his application. “These valuable experiences taught me how to work well with children, adapt to become comfortable outside of my comfort zone, and be flexible in difficult situations.”
For the past several summers Ward has interned with a consulting company in Boston, and now wants to transition to a job that is focused on community. “The only ‘teaching’ experience I have is as a youth swim coach throughout high school, so I’m aware that there’s going to be a steep learning curve, something that the JET program takes into account,” he says. “Teaching through JET is a perfect transition job.”
“I’m extremely proud that two of our 2017 graduates have been chosen for the internationally competitive JET program,” says Colorado College Professor of Japanese Joan Ericson. “Oliver’s past experience as a youth swim coach will definitely come in handy as he assists English language classes in a Japanese middle or high school. Someone with this kind of dedication and patience is highly valued in Japan, especially as a role model for youth trying to learn English, which is a compulsory subject starting in 7th grade.”
Ward joins Andrew Scherffius ’17 in the JET Program this year. Last year, Amanda Barnstien ’16, Carlo Sangalang ’16, and Emma Schulman ’16 were selected, bringing the total to five Colorado College students selected for the highly competitive program in the last two years.
Founded in 1987, the JET Program is the only teaching exchange program managed by the Japanese government. Between 4,000 and 5,000 applications are received each year from U.S. applicants. Of these, 1,000-1,100 will be selected for participation in the JET Program.