By Angie Hawn
This month I bring you Christine Salt from the lovely town of Rokunohe. She is a first year JET who didn’t just get her feet wet, but dived right in. Christine showed me that you don’t have to commit to a large potion of time to be part of the Japanese community.
- Where are you originally from? What city, town, or village do you currently reside in? What year JET are you? And anything else you feel the masses just need to know.
I’m Christine Salt from Arizona residing in Rokunohe. Like most JETS whom are or have been, I am the typical A-session arriver that only has a couple months of experience under their belt living as a teacher before fall festivals were in full swing. Upon arriving, I found myself saying “yes” to everything because like many of the new arrivals we have this thirst for integrating into our communities and creating those connections as quickly as we can.
- How are you involved with your Japanese community? Why did you choose to get involved? What drew you to this activity?
This is how I met the Kelly Burns Nevins by saying “yes” to joining the Aomori Nebuta festival which her party was going to. She arrived with the exchange students from Kittery, Maine. She established a sister school relation between Rokunohe and Oirase schools with Kittery’s Shapleigh School. She forged this relationship after she finished her participation in the JET program 23 years ago. During her summer visit, she shared her experiences about getting involved with the community. She did activities such as Taiko and flower arrangements, and still talks about it 23 years later with joy and appreciation in her tone. I wanted to experience that same excitement.
Late August, my office asked me if I wanted to do Taiko and Obon for the fall festival. Let me be real with you, I’ve tried piano classes in college, and the rhythm was always a struggle for me. I was a little insecure about trying the drums because of my skills. The possibility of having to wrap my hands because blisters were a possibility was terrifying. The long hours and daily practices almost had me putting a foot outside the exit door. However, I told myself this experience comes only few times in one’s life. Maybe if I do it, I will make friends in my town. (I was lacking a few because I was a newbie.) Above all, I felt Kelly gave me confidence to try. She wasn`t the best Taiko drummer she admitted, but that didn`t change her fond memories of her participation. With this piece of information, I joined the Rokunohe Fall Festival.
- What have you gained from this experience? What advice would you give to those who want to jump in?
I had the best time ever! I wasn’t the best performer, but I will always remember my first fall festival in Rokunohe. I got to meet my neighbors, give my students something to talk about with me, and gained new appreciation for matsuri music. Another cool thing was, I actually got a neighboring ALT to join my towns festival with me. It made our friendship closer than ever! I think my advice to anyone, keep open mind and be adventurous, learn to brush off the mistakes by laughing it off, and be the brightest version of you. This can only help the ventures we encounter everyday in a life of a JET.