2006 National Conference

2006 US Conference / Los Angeles
The fifth annual US conference was held in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, and the overall theme of the conference topics and events was “Community”.
The first main session presented an overview of the history of JETAA and JETAAi, and included information on their structure and development, bylaws, and some of the issues that have come up almost every year at conferences, only to be dropped or forgotten and resurrected the next year.
The keynote speaker was Nancy Kikuchi, a business counselor. She had worked for years in real estate and as a booster of Little Tokyo, and was a founding member of the LA chapter after returning from Japan in 1989. She talked about the early years of trying to establish the chapter, especially during her tenure as its president from 1989 to 1993, and then through her later involvement as a member of its board of directors. She also spoke of the history of Little Tokyo and the difficulties faced by the Japanese who came to America from the late 19th century, through the upheavals of the mid-20th century, and into the present period of assimilation. Ironically, it is this period of acceptance and assimilation enjoyed by young Japanese-Americans here that has helped feed the decline of Little Tokyo and led to efforts to preserve some element of Japanese culture in the community. The JET alumni have contributed to this effort through their love for and interest in Japan.
The Visit Japan Campaign was discussed, as well, and alumni were asked to help JNTO with their efforts to promote Japan, since JNTO itself had only two offices left in the US, in LA and New York.

Several national initiatives were discussed. These included:

  • Pursuing NPO status either as a national entity or chapter-by-chapter: A vote was taken and it was decided to leave this to any individual chapters that were interested.
  • Making and selling T-shirts: Reaction was largely negative after the Hawaii chapter said they’d tried it and had almost no success actually selling them. Various marketing ideas were discussed, though.
  • A national pre-departure handbook: It was debated and decided to be not really necessary, given the CLAIR handbook, etc. already available. But it was also agreed that chapters should post their handbooks online as a resource for others.
  • A wholesale buyers’ club for Japanese items: Reaction ranged from negative to simply not interested.

In the course of talking about these points, a consensus began to emerge that the alumni should focus on supporting and strengthening individual chapters before taking on large, national-level projects like these. Possible ideas included forming a national umbrella organization, or simply reviving the buddy chapter system from previous years. No participants knew, when asked, who their buddy chapters were, and it took some time to search the online files and produce a list; but this was said to be different from the list held by the Country Rep. There was then debate about forming a new list ranking chapters as “large / medium / small” and matching them accordingly, but this idea was dropped.
The idea of a national newsletter was then brought up, and opinions leaned toward simply compiling local chapter newsletter articles that might be of general interest. It was announced, however, that Stephen Horowitz, of the New York chapter, was already working with some other newsletter editors around the country to put together a national newsletter, and people were asked to solicit support from their chapter members for that effort.
A Value-Added Committee was formed to look into ways to increase the profile / status of JETAA; an NPO committee was formed to research that topic; and a Country Representative Job Description Committee was formed to draw up a formal set of roles and responsibilities for the US country representatives, based on input from the conference participants. It was decided that the Country Representative should:

  • Represent the United States chapters at JETAAi International Conferences / Meetings
  • Promote the mission / vision of JETAA USA
  • Coordinate communications with CLAIR, MOFA, and AJET
  • Conduct quarterly conference calls or online chats to discuss chapter and committee activities
  • Provide information and technical support to chapters
  • Coordinate with and provide support to the chapter hosting the National Conference
  • Disseminate a calendar of deadlines, etc
  • Give quarterly updates on their activities (perhaps in the newsletter)
  • Communicate results to the chapters from committees and own activities
  • Ensure host chapters have appropriate materials for conferences
  • Lead a post-conference meeting
  • Give questions to chapters to determine discussion topics at national / regional and international meetings
  • Manage yahoogroups listserve

This list was somewhat contentious, given its size and the work that would probably be involved in trying to fully carry out these duties. However, most attendees felt that these were things the country reps are already doing, and there would not be an appreciable increase in their workload.
With that, the new country reps were elected and the conference ended.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License