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Four Seniors Selected for the Japan Exchange Teaching Program

CONWAY, Ark. (April 10, 2018) – Four Hendrix College seniors have been accepted as Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) in the highly selective Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program:

  • Alexandria DerGazarian, a studio art major from Little Rock, Ark.
  • Lena Pham, an anthropology major/Asian studies minor from Fort Smith, Ark.
  • Pete Wills, a biology major/psychology minor from Memphis, Tenn.
  • Laela Zaidi, a religious studies major from Joplin, Mo. 

The JET Program seeks to promote intercultural exchange and understanding by providing participants the opportunity to live and work in a Japanese community and represent the United States as cultural ambassadors. It is highly selective, with 4,000 to 5,000 applicants competing for approximately 1,000 positions in communities throughout Japan.

“JET is a special program that provides participants with ample opportunities to not only learn how to teach English as a Foreign Language, but also to immerse themselves in Japanese culture – learn the language, get involved in community activities and organizations, and make lifelong friendships with fellow teachers, administrators and members of the community,” said Gwen Stockwell, director of ESOL and International Student Services for Hendrix. “As a former JET myself, I will never forget the warm hospitality of the Japanese people and the amazing experiences I had on JET that paved the way for my current career teaching ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and working in the field of international education. I hope these students have the same kinds of experiences.”

JET participants begin with one-year contracts, which may be extended for up to five years. The program is sponsored by the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC).

About the JET Program

The JET Program is a competitive employment opportunity that allows young professionals to live and work in cities, towns, and villages throughout Japan. Most participants serve as Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) and work in public and private schools throughout Japan; some work as Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs) as interpreters/translators. Since the JET Program was founded in 1987, more than 61,000 global participants (including nearly 32,000 Americans) have worked in schools, boards of education, and government offices throughout Japan.

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit