Warm goodbyes from Mariko Miyao and Joyce Cunningham!

Joyce Cunningham, Ibaraki University, and Mariko Miyao, Tsukuba Gakuin University


In 1998 or thereabouts, Mariko Miyao and I started as co-editors of the TLT’s Grassroots. Those were heady times since neither of us had ever attempted anything similar. Co-editing a monthly, four-page column (only two-pages then) was a huge challenge. I had just arrived in Japan and had only two years of JALT under my belt. But with Andy Barfield leading the way on the JALT98 programme conference team, we got our feet wet and fast! Thank you, Andy! When I was elected JALT National Programme Chair, I again had the privilege of working closely with lovely, inspiring, and creative people, beginning with my own Ibaraki Chapter. The above-mentioned experiences were most helpful to sniff out unsuspecting contributors (evil laugh quickly stifled) and wrestle them into an answer of “Yes... all right, OK, (sigh) I will send you something.”Through the years, writers have come from all over JALT: from the SIGS to the chapters reporting on their challenges and insights, to conference organizers, to bright lights in the field, and on and on.

There have been inevitable ups and downs: when reporters were most grateful for our support, dedication and attention, to detail but also times, alas, when our reporters wanted to pull their hair out, due to minute changes of a dash to a comma, razor-sharp cuttings of precious words in a overly long text, etc. On average, drafts were polished 5-6 times; only a very few like Kip Cates or Theron Muller were ever accepted from the get go. Others had up to nine drafts before being turned over to Mariko Miyao, my dream partner. Just when my bleary eyes could focus no longer, Mariko would take over the formatting. Mariko’s eagle eyes, without fail, would catch further changes I had glossed over. She is/was wonderful to work with and I am proud to say that we have never had a single bad word or quarrel in all these years. Mariko has been a rock in a sometimes storm-tossed sea. Thank you, Mariko-san for keeping our boat on an even keel! We are also indebted to Malcolm Swanson who gets more and more efficient (if that is possible) with each TLT. Thank you, oh prince of JALT! And to you, the many editors and proofers who toiled unceasingly with us, bless you!

I (Joyce) will be retiring at the end of this academic year, after 17 very good years at Ibaraki University in Mito. I may not be at JALT2012, so my hugs and deepest gratitude to all I have had the honour of knowing these many years!

So, uhhhhm, Mariko…. Yes, better hand the mike over to you, desu ne? Your turn…

Joyce and I started co-editing our column, first under the title A Chapter/SIG in Your Life, then Perspectives, and now Grassroots. I have truly enjoyed working with Joyce. (You have probably guessed her personality just by reading her portion above. She knows how to encourage and make people happy to work with her.)…Joyce is blushing!

In the late 1990s, not many people were familiar with networked computers or the Internet. Because of my background in working in companies in the US, Canada, and Japan before starting my teaching profession, I felt more comfortable using the then new technology compared to many of my colleagues. Maybe because of this, I guess Andy suggested that Joyce work with me so that she could concentrate on dealing with prospective contributors and editing their articles.

This arrangement suited me very well. I have been able in my part to format the files and contact proofreaders (now copyeditors) and other staff of the TLT production team, all in front of my computer when I can find time in between teaching, attending meetings, and taking care of my family. My involvement with this column and TLT has been great on-the-job training for me. I have met many interesting people on- and off-line and learned a lot about teaching and learning English (as well as how to edit Japanese articles occasionally) while formatting many teachers' reports over the years. I really hope many more Japanese teachers of English will have opportunities to get involved in the production of TLT like I have. Mariko

Thanks Mariko! So…there remains only for us to extend a very warm welcome to Carol Begg, the new incoming editor to this column. This position is not for the faint of heart but Carol has already proven herself to be quick to learn, eager, and enthusiastic. And finally, good luck to you all onThe Language Teacher team and to the many members of JALT who have been so kind to us both over the years!

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