Will Coleman ’22 selected for Japan Exchange and Teaching Program

Will Coleman
Will Coleman ’22 (Photo by Keith Nordstrom)

Opportunity will open door to possible career path, take him to a place he has always wanted to go

Will Coleman ’22 will travel to Japan this summer to work as an assistant language teacher after being accepted into the prestigious Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program.

Founded in 1987, JET is the only teaching exchange program sponsored by the Japanese government. It places college graduates in schools, boards of education and government offices across the country for at least a year.

Coleman, who double majored in English and film and new media studies, also took Japanese courses while at Wheaton. He said this rare opportunity will allow him to forge more meaningful connections and immerse himself fully in a country he has always wanted to visit.

“I have known from the beginning that if I were to travel to a place, I would never want to feel like a tourist, arriving only to briefly see the sights, eat the food and ship off again back home,” he said. “To me, true meaningful travel has always meant taking the extra effort to research, learn and appreciate the incredible and diverse culture of the place I visit, and Japan has always been the central inspiration of that passion.”

The North Andover native said Wheaton’s liberal arts education has allowed him to draw parallels between seemingly disparate subjects like film and English and apply them to his teaching. After graduating from Wheaton, Coleman worked as a production assistant on several films, including “Madame Web” and “The Instigators,” which featured Matt Damon.

“My time as a film student and my work in the film industry have all built similarly applicable skills,” he said. “Cultural literacy, particularly in terms of the images we see, can be an incredibly useful skill and a fun way to connect with people. I know I could find many fun ways to connect with students based on their interests and favorite pieces of media.”

Coleman also credited Wheaton for helping him cultivate a more well-rounded perspective, equipping him with the ability to problem solve and think of creative solutions on the fly, not to mention to approach challenges and opportunities with “courage, curiosity and intention.”

“Wheaton prepared me for this opportunity in almost every way,” he said. “Besides just helping me develop as a person, it was a great place to explore my confidence and know what I’m capable of.”

He added that working with first-year students in the Student Advising Office allowed him to hone his mentoring skills.

Coleman is open to becoming a full-time teacher after JET ends, but said the program is truly a “springboard” that could launch him in several different career paths.

“I can explore the potential I have always felt I had for taking a career path in education,” he said. “My immersion in Japan could also reignite my own connection and passion with my creative self, benefiting my dream to work in the film industry.”

Coleman chose to attend Wheaton, in part, because of its strong study abroad programs. Although he wasn’t able to go abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he considers this opportunity a dream realized.

“I’ve wanted to go to Japan for years,” he said. “This will be a really great chance to explore how I want to lead my adult life fully, and it’s a chance to go out on my own. It really is a great marker of how much effort I have put in so far and a great chance to hopefully thrive in an incredible place.”

—By Scott Enman ’15