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Amy Grassow, 21, is off to a new life in Japan after being selected as one of 31 postgraduate students to teach English.

Grassow, a BA graduate in English and Film at the University of Cape Town, has been assigned to Hyogo-k en, in the west of Japan.

The group of 31 South African students was the largest yet from this country in the annual Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) programme, which is intended to "promote understanding" between Japanese and foreigners.

The group left for Japan on Saturday.

"I'm nervous and happy at the same time. I am going there with an open mind and I want to learn as much about their culture as I can," Grassow said.

Participants have entered into a three-year contract with the Japanese government. They are all graduates.

Born in Mabopane north of Pretoria, 23-year-old Bonolo Mogotsi expressed excitement about the trip.

She completed her honours degree in international relations at Wits last year.

"I am hoping to learn about Japanese culture and beliefs. It hasn't sunk in yet, but I am excited," Mogotsi said.

Established in 1987 by Japan, the programme has hosted 40 000 participants from 47 countries. There are presently 450 young people on the programme in Japan. They are paid between R25 000 and R30 000 a month.


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