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The JETAA Chicago Leadership is committed to creating an inclusive and supportive environment for everyone in our community. To learn more review our Community Conduct & Agreements.

We would like to introduce you to your JETAA Chicago Leadership Team for the 2024-2025 term! This series of officer profiles will give you a closer look at each officer's role responsibilities, motivations for pursuing a leadership role in JETAA Chicago, goals for this year, insights into their personalities, and more.

Our Activities Lead, Claudia Gonzalez, was an ALT in Toyoma from 2021-2023.

Tell us more about your JET experience.

As a JET with more professional work experience, I was able to focus on building relationships with the community and engage in cultural experiences. I met wonderful life time friendships with my Oba-chans, Okaa-sans, and the wonderful people in Himi. I think about them everyday. I wouldn't change it for the world.

When did you join/how long have you been on the JETAA Chicago Leadership Board? If applicable: what positions have you held and when? 

Came on as Activities Lead in late 2023.

What skills and experience do you bring to the JETAA Chicago leadership team?

I was the Charities Representative for AJET Toyama. My profession is in Higher Education and Leadership with focus on international programs. I hope to encourage future members to seek international experience with Japan. And also bring JET Alumni together to reminisce and enjoy Japanese experiences in Chicago.

What inspired you to step up as a leader and join the JETAA Chicago Board?

I feel like, the support I received from my Senpai and the JETAA Chicago, I want to give back, and also help those who want to go to Japan as well as promote my experience. As a recent returnee, I also wanted to help out those JETs who are transitioning back to the USA.

What is the essence/purpose of your role? (if you're a new officer, tell us more about what you are looking forward to in your officer role on the JETAA Chicago board)

Create cultural exchanges activities with the JET community and the community in Chicago.

Since our officers must embody and practice our Community Conduct and Agreements, which principle do you think is the most important, and/or which one resonated with you the most?

Staying Engaged, and actively listen principle resonates with me the most post Covid, I feel more people want to be more socially engaged, however, we forget that everyone was affected so we have to be mindful and inclusive to those engages, and learn how to listen.

What is something you want to accomplish and/or focus on in your role as an officer?

Creating events, collaborations with other Japanese organizations, and with the community.

For you, what sparks joy?

  • Sleeping

  • Onsen

  • Discovering new delicious foods

  • Listening to music

  • Being surrounded by loved ones.

What is your favorite Japanese "thing" near where you live now (and/or in the Midwest)?

Mitsuwa, When I am feeling nostalgic I like to go there to eat some Japanese food, and pick up some groceries.

Connect with Claudia via Linkedin!

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Join your fellow alumni and new 2024 JETs in downtown Chicago on Wednesday, June 26!

Come see old friends and build new relationships! Our Summer Nomikai is a wonderful opportunity for new 2024 JETs and older alumni alike to meet and network. The event will be held at Lizzie McNeill's on their outdoor patio (weather permitting, if not, we will be inside) from 7:00- 9:00 PM on Wednesday, June 26!

Enjoy the wonders of the 飲み放題 (nomihōdai) again or for the first time! Each ticket includes a two-hour party package with soft drinks, draft beer, house wine, and well cocktails. JETAA Chicago will also be providing light appetizers for guests. The cost is $35 per person.

Spaces are limited and this event is for alumni and new 2024 JETs only!

Questions? Email!

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Join us for a private, online Wagashi workshop on Sunday, July 14th, 2 pm CST, making two types of nerikiri with Toshiko Sugii Steffes. Participants pay for the class and supplies which will be sent ahead of the class. Cost: $45 per person + kit shipping fee of $6 - 7.00 per package. A link for payment and to submit your address for delivering the supply kit will be sent after signing up. The class lasts around 1.5 hours. Please RSVP by 6/29! Sign up and see details below.

Sign up here!

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Japan Exchange & Teaching (JET) Alumni Association of Chicago
Connecting JET alumni in the Midwest - Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana
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