After graduating from Wheaton this May, international relations major Emmeli Gordon ’17 will return to her roots—traveling to Japan, where she was born, to work for a year as an assistant English teacher through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET).
The program gives participants from more than 40 countries around the world the opportunity to work in schools, boards of education and government offices throughout Japan. Gordon will be teaching in an elementary, middle or high school.
The Wheaton senior was born in Okazaki, Japan, and lived in the city of Nagoya for six years before coming to the United States.
“I have always wanted to return to Japan to live as an adult,” she said. “I want to gain new perspective on the world. I think it is a good experience to push yourself out of a comfort zone and, for me, living in Japan alone will do this.”
While at Wheaton, Gordon participated in two internships that laid the groundwork for her role with JET. As a sophomore, she interned with the International Rescue Committee in her hometown of Charlottesville, Va., teaching English to newly-arrived refugees. The summer of her junior year, she worked for the Hashemite Fund in Amman, Jordan, where she crafted her own lesson plans and taught English to Bedouin women.
“I learned how to be flexible and responsive to my students’ needs,” Gordon wrote of her internships, in her JET application. “I loved my work with all these students, who were so motivated to learn. At the same time, I gained respect for language teachers and the impacts that they can have.”
She also has benefitted from her time on campus, which includes four years on the synchronized swimming team.
“The diverse community at Wheaton has helped me grow and prepare for the world beyond Wheaton,” she said. “The small community fosters creativity and encourages everyone to be outgoing. I will take the lessons from Wheaton on to the next chapter of my life.”
Gordon will be teaching with JET for at least one year, with the opportunity to stay as many as five years. Afterward, she plans to attend graduate school—possibly law school—with an eye on a career in international law.