The ‘Hope Experience’ & ESL

I was recently asked a few questions by Hope College student Katy Carlson ’13 who is traveling a bit and blogging about it.  Hope is partially sponsoring her journey in exchange for detailing those experiences where she concatenates with other alumni abroad.  I’m now back stateside of course, but she as someone who one day seeks to become an English teacher reached out to some other grads who had shared such experiences in different parts of the world.  Here were my responses to a couple of her questions, as well as a link to those by the rest of her interviewees:


Justin Bussies – 2010, Management/International Studies Majors, Japanese Minor

Where did you teach English abroad? What were your daily experiences like?
Given my language background, I was able to land a position on the JET Programme, where they placed me in the rural Japanese village of Shionoe on the island of Shikoku. I was the only foreigner around, so I was really able to get involved in the town. Classes at some of the schools were really small, and my smallest school had a grand total of 7 students. Because I had a car I could get around and explore at my leisure. I also truly loved the experience of being called Justin Sensei.

What kind of training did you receive for this job?
As for training and qualifications… I had none. The JET program doesn’t require any specific background, but through the application process they seek to find genuine and capable people. Having studied some Japanese certainly didn’t hurt my chances.

What would you like to tell others about your experience?
Really, the three years (2010-2013) that I spent there has done everything to shape me as the person I am today. My travel resume grew from just the US, Canada, Japan, and Ecuador to 57 countries by the time I got home. It ignited a curiosity in not just foreign culture, religion, and politics, but learning in general. I spent a lifetime growing up in West Michigan, and now I have an appreciation for how much larger the world really is. I have wonderful friends stationed all around the world.
Andy Nakajima was the prof who opened the door to that, by being a captivating professor of Japanese. Additionally, the continued support I received through Amy Otis and the rest of the International team made it all work out. I was also a Centurian, so tracking down some fellow friends in various parts of the world was wonderful.

More of Katy’s writing can be found here:

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