Interview by Peter Underwood
Fifty issues of Good Morning Aomori published over the past nine years, all for the ever changing tapestry of people that have come through our lovely prefecture of Aomori. In both issues this month, Spotlight will celebrate by taking a snapshot of those people who, at the time of this 50th issue, are working hard to make both GMA and your ALT experience great in the first half of 2016. Think of it as a GMA time capsule.
Without further ado, let’s turn the spotlight on the AJET Team, with President Samantha McCalip, Vice President MiNa Kim, and Treasurer Amanda Marcroft.
Why did you choose to run for AJET?
Sam: I had such a great experience with previous Aomori AJET officers putting on amazing events. My first and second year, I went to literally all of them. I wanted to do everything and see everyone, and Aomori AJET events gave everybody that exact opportunity. Aomori is one of the only prefectures that I know of in Tohoku (and pretty much all of Japan) that has such an active and family-like AJET presence and community. Did y’all realize we basically have an event almost every month? Other prefectures might have a ryokan get-together or a few bar parties, but Aomori AJET has always set an example by trying to plan events everyone can enjoy. I wanted to keep it going. AJET’s only as successful as we make it!
Mina: No one else was running for the position, and with my love for Aomori, I couldn’t just leave the community events high and dry!
Amanda: AJET was actually the reason I chose to apply for JET. I admire the way people cared for and contributed to their community.
What is the most enjoyable thing about your role in AJET?
Sam: Getting to see people laughing, mingling, and meeting new people. I really love whenever people come up to me and tell me how they never thought they’d like such-and-such until they came to an AJET event that had it (e.g. hiking, cabins, going to a certain spot in Aomori they hadn’t heard of).
Mina: Talking about my love for savory pot pies with Sami, and Amanda’s overly decadent sweets.
Amanda: Coming up with big ideas, bouncing them off of other people until they’re the size of the moon, and then working out the pieces to make them a reality.
Anything you’d say to those who want to run for your position?
Sam (President): Be prepared to have to say, “Whatever, it’ll all work out,” every once in a while. I want to make sure everyone enjoys themselves, but after the work on an event is done, I just have to say, “It’ll all work out.” And it does!
Mina (Vice President): Get ready to hear people complain about the weirdest things ever.
Amanda (Treasurer): When I first received the AJET “cash box,” it was a pink Hello Kitty nurse bag. I also got a broken candle (I promise not to give you broken candles).
What’s the AJET event you’re most proud to have been a part of organising?
Sam: My favorite event is the Delipalooza. It doesn’t require much as far as organization, just getting on base to grab up deli sandwich fixings. If we’re talking about the event that takes the most planning, it would be the Welcome Cabin Party we put on for newbies and oldies to mingle. We start planning, marketing, and reserving for that sucker so early! It takes a lot of effort. It’s my second favorite, but it requires a LOT more preparation and a LOT more help from beautiful volunteers in the community. I’d say this last year was one of the more fun ones I’ve been to, so yay! Success!
Mina: The Great Gatsby party! It was nice to try something new.
Amanda: Playground Palooza 2014. It was my first event and we were all really excited about the ideas we had for it, so it turned out really well. Plus, I love games.
AJET produces GMA, and all of you contribute to GMA directly in some way or another. Where would you like to see GMA in 5 years?
Sam: Ideally, with a bigger variety of contributions from first and second years. It’s a really good way to get involved in the community and get your name out there, without pressure. It’s a fantastic way for people to get to know you, and for you to get to know Aomori!
Mina: I would like GMA to have it’s own Facebook page and start making GMA Tasty videos. ‘Cuz those videos are so fun to watch.
Amanda: I’d like to see more columns on different topics; I love hearing people discuss what they’re passionate about.
For those of you leaving this year, what will you take away from your AJET experiences?
Amanda: You don’t always get what you want, but there’s no reward for not trying.
For those of you staying, what will you take from your AJET experiences into your next year in JET (and maybe AJET, if you run for another term)?
Sam: I’ll be staying, and for sure running for another year as AJET president! #onemoreyearofderp
I’m going to definitely carry over the amount of support people have shown. So many people have been really vocal about things they loved at each event, and I think it let me get to know people I might not have gotten a chance to see otherwise. I’m forever grateful that I could be so involved with y’all, and happy I got to do these things for y’all in my spare time.
Mina: Aomori truly has a wonderful and unique community. I’m grateful for all the crazy memories I made through AJET events this past year. It’s been a great experience serving you guys so far!