By Emma Moriarty
Growing up in a tight-knit community like Tempe Prep may lead one to believe the connections they make will never have universal implications. Many TPA alums have and are proving this wrong. Class of 2013 alum Jonathan Garza is one of these people.
Using academic skills gained from TPA and Franklin & Marshall College, he is now teaching English in the city of Naruto, Japan. Jonathan explains why he decided to pursue teaching and what inspired him: “I have a lot of teachers in my family, so education has always been something that I was passionate about. The other reason is that it was a good way to get to Japan. As a native speaker of English, I have a unique skill set. Japanese immigration is notoriously tough so the best way for someone my age to come to Japan is to become an English teacher. Also, the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program is very prestigious and all around great, so it was hard to say no when I got in.”
Jonathan wants to make the most of his experience, and started studying in college. “I took one year of Japanese in college. It was a very difficult class, but I think it gave me a good foundation to try and learn Japanese while in Japan.”
Even though moving to a foreign country may seem daunting, Jonathan prepared thoroughly for this adventure. “I’ve learned a lot of Japanese already and a lot about the culture,” Jonathan says. “I participated in a festival called Awaodori, which is unique to my prefecture (Tokushima) and is famous throughout Japan. I’ve also learned that high school everywhere is similar. The uniforms here are almost identical to TPA’s, but the students also remind me of myself at that age.” Just like what he learned at Tempe Prep, Jonathan knows what he is learning now will impact him positively.
The value of this program goes beyond day-to-day experiences. Jonathan explains how he thinks JET will help him prepare for his future: “I believe that as the world becomes more globalized, learning a foreign language is key. Not just because it’s a marketable skill, but because it’s so easy to experience other parts of the world. We have an unprecedented ability to experience other cultures and countries. Learning a language is a big part of that. I hope to learn Japanese to a high proficiency, but I also hope to learn a lot about Japanese society. I don’t know what I want to do when I’m done, but I’m sure I’ll learn some things that will be helpful towards my future career goals.”