My Clemson-1500-O-TOOLEWhen you think of Japan, you might think of Mt. Fuji looming over the surrounding country-side or of Tokyo and its fashion districts and brilliant night scene.

But my Japan is Mikame, a quaint fishing village where I teach elementary and middle school students through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET).

How did I get here? Between my sophomore and junior years, I lived in Paris and took a French language immersion course at the Sorbonne. The following summer, I studied Shakespeare at St. Peter’s College Oxford with the Duckenfield Scholars program. These experiences led to a severe case of wanderlust and a desire to live abroad full-time after graduation.

The more I learned about the JET Program, the more I wanted to be a part of it. What JET calls creating a “mutual understanding” between participants and their host communities, I learned as a Clemson student under the broader heading of being “culturious:” wanting to learn about another lifestyle, another culture, another way of life as much as wanting to share your own.

If I have inspired just one of my students to study abroad, to travel to a new country or to explore the world for themselves, my time in Japan will have been fulfilled. My wish is that they, too, become “culturious.”

My middle school students recently finished their midterm exams, and I rewarded them by celebrating Solid Orange Friday. I told them about football games, tailgating, First Friday and Solid Orange pride. I shared pictures of alumni holding Tiger Rags around the world and let them try on my Clemson ring as I shared that tradition, too.

I wish I could share the excitement in their eyes when a few lucky students won Tiger Rags after an intense tournament of rock-paper-scissors!

The Clemson spirit is truly contagious — my students will remember this Solid Orange Friday for a long time to come.

Meredith discusses her experiences with the JET program in Japan:

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