Sayonara BBQ 2010

By Webmaster

When: Saturday, July 17th, 2010 from 1-5pm

Where: Stephanie and Scott Smith’s house

RSVP: Stephanie (location sent at time of RSVP)

Please bring a side dish, dessert or snack.  JETAA will provide the main dishes for meat lovers and vegetarians alike.

Parents, family and friends of JETs are welcome.

Below is a recap of last year:

When:  Saturday, July 18th, 12pm-8pm (yep, it lasted that long)
Where:  Colonel Summers Park (near SE 17th Ave. & Taylor St.)

July 18th was a hot and sunny summer day, perfect for a Sayonara Barbecue in the shade at Colonel Summers Park in southeast Portland.  Over twenty new JETs, family members, and JET alumni spent time eating, chatting, and playing games.

“It was wonderful to spend time with the new JETs and their families, and see how excited and prepared they are for heading off to Japan,” said JETAA social chair Darren Heiber.

Without a doubt, “prepared” has been repeated often when describing the 2009 JETs from Portland.  “Through this whole process, I’ve really been surprised how many new JETs have been to Japan before or have studied Japanese.  Every time I try to tell them something, it seems like someone says, ‘Yes, I know,’” said Matt Turner of the Consulate-General of Portland.

Prepared or not, the more information JET participants get about their placements, the more questions they inevitably have.  Much of the conversation Saturday centered on comparing placement details and asking about cars, clothes, and schools.  The particulars of owning full-sized as opposed to mini cars can be confusing, and some of the new JETs appreciated hearing alums’ experiences with them.

Even when the new participants are prepared, sometimes their parents are still anxious about their leaving the country; creating a forum where any concerned or interested parents can get more information is one of the biggest aims of the sayonara barbecue.  This year, though, the parents that came were just as ready as their kids.

“I’m very excited about it,” said Devra Augusson, mother of Revan.  The Augussons have been connected to Japan in many ways for generations and Revan has always identified with it in some way, she said.  “When he was a junior in college he was finally able to take Japanese.  Going to Japan has been his only plan for more than a year.”

Participant Cassie Lealamanua’s mother Norene echoed similar thoughts.  With various links to Japan, from Norene’s hospitality-based Japanese language classes in the 1980s to Cassie’s ambassador trip and study abroad in Japan, their family feels a sort of relationship to Japan.  “I have no qualms at all,” Norene said of Cassie’s JET trip.  “And anyway, it’s not like 20 years ago,” referring to Skype and other communication technology commonly used today.

Although Japan novices seem to be in the minority this year, they actually make up about half of the departing JETs.  Kelsey Hermann had just been upgraded from alternate status the week before the barbecue, which meant that she was not able to attend JETAA’s predeparture orientation in June and had lots of things to ask at the barbecue.  “While the free food was a great incentive, the approachable alumni were what I needed to settle most of my unresolved questions about Japan and the JET,” she said.

“I really enjoy meeting people from all walks of life and this allowed me to meet people who have experienced and will experience a similar path for at least a year.  Getting to know a group of people who have chosen the same path was empowering and inspiring.”

The JETAA crew is glad to provide a forum that people find useful, but then it’s hard to go wrong with a summer barbecue.  And if we don’t see you new JETs before you leave … Sayonara!

Filed in: Past Events • Saturday, June 5th, 2010


The Portland Chapter of JETAA (The JET Program Alumni Association) was created to serve the bonds of friendship developed by the program participants. JETAA’s purpose is to achieve, through its activities, a broader and deeper understanding between Japan and the other countries participating in the program.