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Japan Exchange Teaching Program Selects Six Hendrix Seniors

CONWAY, Ark. (April 19, 2019) – A Hendrix College record of six seniors have been accepted as Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program:

  • Alex Berner, a psychology major from Keller, Texas
  • Jazmin Calixto, a psychology major/studio art minor from Dallas, Texas
  • Adrienne McGooden, a psychology major from Siloam Springs, Ark.
  • John Tran, a religious studies/neuroscience double major from Little Rock, Ark.
  • Katherine Verdaris, an economics major from Little Rock, Ark.
  • Hueseng Xiong, a biochemistry and molecular biology major/Chinese minor from Subiaco, Ark.

The highly selective 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. Each year, between 4,000 and 5,000 applicants compete for approximately 1,000 positions in communities throughout Japan.

Gwen Stockwell, director of ESOL and International Student Services for Hendrix, said the higher number of acceptances into JET reflects a tremendous increase in interest in Japan on the Hendrix campus in recent years. Many of the JET Program students volunteered in cultural outreach activities led by Aya Murata, the Japan Outreach Initiative Coordinator the College hosted from 2016 to 2018. In addition, some have lived in the Japanese Culture House on campus; traveled to Japan through the Tomodachi Kakehashi Inouye Scholars exchange program in 2018 or the “Peace, War, and Memory in East Asia” Odyssey Program trip in 2017; participated in Japanese immersion weekends sponsored by the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation; and made an effort to learn Japanese, either through informal language lessons with the Japanese Language and Culture Club or by taking the Introduction to Japanese Language and Culture class Stockwell teaches. 

“I think this year’s success is largely the result of these students’ active participation in a broad range of Japanese cultural activities on campus and in the community,” she said. “It has been great to see Japanese language and culture contribute to diversity on our campus and in our community. As a JET alumna myself—I served in Miyazaki, Japan, from 1998 to 2001—I’m delighted to see our graduates now be able to benefit from cultural exchange programs like this.”

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