JETAA Chicago officer elections are coming up on March 1st! In light of this, we wanted to take the time to shine a spotlight on our current officers (election term from November 2019 - March 2021) in order to get to know the people behind the headshots, and to learn more about what they do in their roles as officers. This will be an 8 part "Get to Know Our Officers" series in which we will highlight each officer leading up to the elections and come to know their motivations, values and legacy.
Last week we introduced our Marketing Coordinator, Alexis Palmer. Next we would like to introduce our Outreach Coordinator, Dylan Coffey (he/him), who was an ALT in Miyagi Prefecture, Kesennuma City from 2016-2019!
Tell us more about your JET experience.
My three years in northern Japan were a blast! My city was almost completely destroyed in 2011 by the earthquake/tsunami, so I had a very unique experience. By volunteering and getting involved in my local community, I grew and learned so much about myself and life. I wouldn't be where I am today without JET!
When did you join/how long have you been on the JETAA Board? What positions have you held?
Outreach Coordinator since 2019
What inspired you to step up as a leader and join the JETAA Chicago Board?
Even before leaving JET, I knew I wanted to be involved with the alumni community immediately upon returning home. I wanted to stay connected with Japan and JET, as well as continue volunteering and "paying it forward" to future generations.
Describe your officer duties and what you have enjoyed about said duties.
My time with JETAA Chicago has been a wild ride! As the leader of the Survival Series, which assists Outgoing JETs before their arrival to Japan, I have created multiple events geared towards preparing our area's Outgoing JETs for their time in Japan! With COVID-19 being the main obstacle this year, it has truly been a learning experience. I have learned a lot and I think going fully virtual this year allowed us unparalleled engagement within our chapter.
What could be a healthy and/or needed culture add to JETAA Chicago?
I think that, even after COVID-19, having a strong virtual presence in our chapter is key. By having some events become virtual, we can have engagement across our chapter as well as with other chapters. JETAA Chicago encompasses such a large area (Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin) which is difficult to make sure all of our members are involved. I feel continuing virtually would create the best chance at engagement, and possibly even bring new additions to our roster.
What is one highlight, accomplishment, and/or something you're proud to have been a part of during your time serving as an officer?
I have felt honored to serve during the difficult time that was 2020. To be able to assist in transitioning our Survival Series to a virtual format, I have been proud to see how many alumni stepped up to assist as well as Outgoing JETs attending our events despite the pandemic.
For you, what sparks joy?
- Video Games
What is your favorite Japanese "thing" near where you live now (and/or in the Midwest)?
Because I am a true Hoosier at heart (Indianapolis, born and raised!) I would like to shed light on a little-known new restaurant in Downtown Indianapolis! It is called Hinata Fine Dining, and is a Japanese-owned fine dining restaurant serving VERY authentic Japanese cuisine! Due to the very strong Japanese economic presence in Indiana, it is the ideal place for a business meeting or to enjoy the best Japanese food that Indiana has to offer! Go and try it!