By Mike Koury | Published July 25, 2018 | C and G News
FERNDALE — A Ferndale resident and Oakland University graduate will be heading to Japan as part of a program through the Office of the Consulate General of Japan in Detroit.
Anthony Madry, 23, will be taking part in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, or JET Program, where he’ll be acting as an assistant language teacher helping to teach English.
The program, according to JET Program Coordinator Rhea Young, sends young graduates from around the world to Japan to work as either assistant language teachers or as coordinators for international relations.
“They’re sent to communities throughout the entire country, and some are in urban areas, some are in more rural (areas), and the hope is that outside of the job, outside of teaching or working in an office, they become a part of the community, learn about the local culture and also teach local people about their own culture,” she said.
Madry, who majored in Japanese language and literature at Oakland University, said he’s been interested in Japanese culture for many years — since he was a preteen and gained interest through video games, manga and pop culture.
He first took a Japanese language class while at the Center for Advanced Studies and the Arts, which he said was so difficult that he ended up hating it at first.
“I ended up changing my mind a couple years later before college and said, ‘I don’t really want to quit, even though it is difficult,’” he said. “After some consideration, I decided to major in it, and I have a couple goals of going over there and really furthering my language skills, serving at a local Christian church while I’m there, as well as just being involved in the community through sports and other activities.”
Young said the program is a fairly competitive one, with more than 1,100 people heading to Japan versus the more than 4,000 who applied this year to go.
Participants must stay a minimum of one year in Japan and can remain in the program for up to five years.
“A lot of people say it’s a life-changing experience, and I think having spent that one to five years in Japan kind of shapes who they become after they return, and what they decide to go into,” Young said. “I can say for myself, had I not done the JET Program, I’m quite certain I wouldn’t be working here at the consulate in the public affairs and culture section.”
Madry, who will be leaving on Aug. 4, said he’s “definitely” open to staying longer than the one-year minimum, but he still wants to look at graduate school or other employment opportunities back home.
The biggest thing for the Ferndale native was the opportunity to go serve in a church, as Madry is a “pretty religious person” and he wanted to share that part of himself with others in Japan.
“I thought that was a great opportunity for me to not only experience a new culture, but also share my culture and where I come from and how I was raised, and kind of see that difference,” he said.