AJET Peer Support Group (PSG) is now accepting volunteer applications for the 2014-2015 JET Year.
This is one of the few opportunities that let you positively impact the ENTIRE JET community and provide the support to our peers that we have all needed ourselves from time to time.
- Is there a time commitment? Yes.
- Have I periodically had to stay in on a Saturday night for a shift? Or woken up in the middle of the night to take a call? Yes.
But I can tell you that it has been a tremendously rewarding experience and I hope that many of you will apply and represent the hell out of Saga!
If you are interested in learning more about PSG or applying, please read on! If you still have questions please feel free to email me (Alex), or contact PSG through the address at the bottom.
About the AJET PSG
PSG is a completely confidential and anonymous resource that has been operated by JETs, for JETs, for nearly two decades. Its hotline operates from 20:00 to 07:00, 365 days a year, to assist JETs with anything from culture shock to a crisis. Our volunteers are all current JETs who understand the unique challenges that ALTs and CIRs face on the JET Programme. They receive extensive training in support skills, and are familiar with the resources available to JET participants facing all manner of challenges.
Who we’re looking for
Basic Eligibility Requirements
- Be a current JET Participant (ALT, CIR, or SEA—PAs are also welcome to apply!) beginning their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th Year in Summer of 2014.
- Have a reliable home internet connection. A smartphone or pocket Wi-Fi alone is not sufficient.
- Be willing to commit to staffing the line for one or two evenings in a typical month.
- Be available to complete approximately 25 hours of training and role-play sessions throughout May and June.
- Open-mindedness. One of PSG’s guiding principles is offering non-judgmental support, and an ability to appreciate different points of view is critical to our success.
- Listening and support skills. PSG is rarely in a position to “solve” problems. Instead, it seeks to listen compassionately, and help JETs develop their own solutions in a safe environment.
- A willingness to learn. PSG is an organization that is carefully tailored to meet the needs of the JET Community, and operates within some firm constraints. A willingness to learn PSG’s specific way of supporting JETs is essential, as is a desire to learn new skills and proactively contribute new ideas and skills.
- A broad interest in improving the JET Support network. PSG is a deliberately independent organization, but our volunteers collaborate frequently with the PA Community, CLAIR Staff, and privately practicing mental health professionals. Volunteers will be called upon to support those projects.
- The ability to maintain absolute confidentiality. Volunteers may not discuss specific calls, or information they may learn through their work, with anyone outside the organization, and only in very specific ways within the organization. PSG cannot function without ironclad confidentiality.
- An ability to work independently. PSG is a team with a commitment to mutual support, but our volunteers are scattered throughout Japan, and one person cannot easily cover for another. PSG volunteers must be able to complete tasks on schedule, and manage their time carefully.
- Prior training/qualifications NOT required. PSG Volunteers are NOT counselors, but peers who train to be an effective resource for other JETs. As such, prior training in psychology or counseling, or service in support roles such as a Resident Assistant or a PA may be somewhat helpful, but is absolutely not required. We’re looking, first and foremost, for great listeners, and we recognize that they come from all sorts of backgrounds.
Members typically volunteer one to two evenings each month to staff the PSG phone line. Volunteers must submit at least ten open evenings each month (including two weekend nights), from which their shifts will be assigned.
Successful applicants will take part in mandatory training sessions throughout mid-May and June. While multiple sessions will be scheduled, in principle new volunteers will have to devote one full evening per week for five weeks to complete training, with individually scheduled practice role-plays to follow.
Interested JETs may contact the PSG Volunteer Coordinator, Melissa Huntley, and request an application form or make further inquiries. Applications will be distributed until 16 March 2014.
After a careful reading of all the written applications, some applicants will be asked to participate in role-play interviews. We anticipate notifying successful applicants in mid-to-late April, with training beginning after Golden Week.
Q: When will applications be available?
A: Right now!
Q: You say that prior experience isn’t required, and that PSG isn’t a professional counseling service. I have professional qualifications–can I still apply?
A: Yes, absolutely! Our work is very distinct from counseling–which, among other things, is based on the sort of ongoing relationship that PSG cannot have as an anonymous support line–but it is based on many of the same principles, and there’s a some skill overlap. As long as you recognize that when working as a PSG Volunteer you are not in a position to provide counseling, that experience can only be a plus. Many JETs with professional credentials have lent their skills to PSG over the year.
Q: Are PSG Volunteers paid?
A: No, PSG volunteers receive no compensation for their service. From time to time, PSG participates in events and conferences which have had a travel allowance, but those are fairly infrequent.
Q: Does PSG have an office or a call center? Do I have to travel to volunteer?
A: We wish! We use VoIP technology to connect our national hotline to our volunteers’ personal computers or telephones, so you can work the line from the comfort of your kotatsu. Training is also conducted through conference calls, so you can do that at home too. We do try to arrange a few volunteer meet-ups throughout the year, though.
Q: PSG operates from 20:00 to 07:00—how does that work? Do I have to stay up all night?
A: Typically, one volunteer staffs the line for the entire shift period. Volunteers are allowed to sleep on shift, provided that they are able to respond quickly to any call that may come in.
Q: I’ll be leaving JET this summer, but this sounds like a great learning opportunity. Can I still volunteer?
A; Sorry, training is a very intense and time-consuming process, and we have to reserve our limited spots for volunteers who can make a commitment for the entire year.
Q: Who runs PSG? Does it report to anyone?
A: PSG is an independent organization, which we think is critical to offering JETs unbiased support and guidance. We are financially supported by National AJET, but operate autonomously and do not report calls to it, CLAIR, Prefectural Advisors, contracting organizations, or legal authorities. Callers who seek PSG’s assistance are therefore guaranteed that it has no financial or professional stake in their situation, only a concern for their well-being. The only exception to our confidentiality policy is if someone poses an imminent threat to themselves or the safety of others. We have to take action if there are lives at stake.
Q: Hey, you didn’t answer my question!
A: Regrettably, the P in PSG doesn’t stand for psychic. Give us an e-mail, and we’ll be happy to give you more information. However, we ask that you do not contact the hotline with recruiting-related inquiries.