Meet the Team

Connect magazine is happy to announce its new team for the 2016-2017 year. These men and women will be working hard to bring you useful, interesting content to help connect you to Japan and the community no matter where you are. Read their profiles and contact information below!

Head Editorial Team


Lauren Hill

Head Editor

I’m Lauren, and I’m excited to be Connect’s Head Editor for 2018-2019. This is my third year in Japan; in Kunitachi, Tokyo (famous once a year for cherry blossoms and all day every day for the best cat mascot around – fight me); and with Connect! I’m thrilled to be working with the magazine again this year, hearing all of your stories from across the country, and making new discoveries about Japan as I go. When I’m not editing obsessively, you’ll find me loitering about the conbini bread section on the hunt for seasonal specials, or devouring yet another book (42 down, 8 to go…). Send an email my way if there’s something you want to share with our readers, or if you have particularly strong feelings about the His Dark Materials series. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Angela Hinck

Angela Hinck

Assistant Editor

Hey there! I’m Angela, a fourth year ALT and assistant head editor of Connect. I graduated from UCF with a double major in creative writing and psychology once upon a time, and it’s been a long, twisty road from there to my current job as a JHS ALT in Fukui prefecture. My passion is stories, in any form: books, comics, games, podcasts… if it’s a form of narrative media, I’m into it. I’m proud to be involved with Connect this year and am excited to help showcase ALT and expat stories. Please email me with any questions you might have about contributing to Connect, about the magazine itself, or about whatever story I’m obsessed with at the moment.

Dylan Brain

Dylan Brain

Head Web Editor

Hey everyone! I’m currently a third year ALT in Hiroshima prefecture hailing from Birmingham in the UK. I’ve been involved on and off with Connect over the last few years and I am really excited to be heading our new website. Aside from doing my best trying to inspire the youth of Japan, you can find me hiking Japan’s mountains, cycling through the countryside, or face first down in the snow during the ski season.

Alex Furukawa

Alex Furukawa

Assistant Web Editor

Hi! My name is Alex Furukawa, and I’m a third year ALT in Oita prefecture, but I’m originally from the San Francisco Bay Area in California, USA. I spent my formative high school years learning to code and make blog layouts for fun, so I’m excited to be back in the web game as Connect’s Assistant Head Web Editor. In my spare time, I play guitar and write songs that I perform at occasional open-mics in my prefecture. Let’s have a great year!

Section Editors


Sarah White

Hello! I’m Sarah, and I’m starting my second year as an ALT in Fukui prefecture! I’m originally from El Paso, Texas, but I have serious wanderlust and adore travelling. Some of my hobbies include meditation, tarot, writing, playing video games and tabletop RPGs, and doing near-excessive amounts of taiko. I am super stoked to be this year’s entertainment editor for Connect magazine. Let’s explore what awesome stuff Japan has to offer!


Peyton Goodman

Hello! My name is Peyton and I’m a second year JET in Oita prefecture. I’m originally from Kentucky in America. My interests include anime, superhero movies, and books. I look forward to exploring all of the various events in Japan.


Nash Sibanda

Hi, folks. My name is Nash; I’m a brand new first-year JET stationed in Mito, Ibaraki, and hailing from Cardiff, in the UK. I recently completed a PhD in Cinema History, and I’m glad for the break from academia that coming to Japan provides. I’m an average-but-enthusiastic guitarist, I love writing music, I’m a Rimworld addict, I have immediately become too fond of reasonably priced nomihoudai. I’m really chuffed to be editing the culture section, and can’t wait to see what I learn about my new home away from home.


Laura Pollacco

Hi, I’m Laura Pollacco and I am currently on my 2nd year here in Kanagawa, Japan. I am so excited to be the Style and Beauty Editor for CONNECT magazine this year as I finally get a chance to put my degree in Fashion Photography to some use. I have more energy than most know what to do with so, as well as hunting down articles and stories for the magazine, I also am involved in the drama and film industry in Tokyo, I dance Bachata on the odd weekend, I am taking up Kendo and I regularly work out doing MMA. I love thrill seeking and exploring this amazing country!


Tresha Barrett

Hey! I’m Tresh (aka Charlie) I’m a fourth-year JET from Jamaica who is
currently living in the beautiful city of Kyoto. I have a degree in Print and Online Journalism with a minor in English Literature. I’ve worked as a journalist and writer for several years and with my time on JET serving as a mini hiatus I now have the awesome opportunity to scratch my writer’s itch by bringing you guys some important news about Japan! I live to explore the corners of the mind, soul, and universe – and, yes, I fully embrace my crazy…


Amanda Muller

Hey ya’ll, my name is Amanda, and I’m a second year JET from New York, currently living in Kyoto. As an English/creative writing major who seriously considered switching to something nutrition or fitness-related, I’m super excited to combine all my interests as Connect’s Health and Nutrition editor this year. When I’m not desk warming at work you can find me getting my you-know-what handed to me by Shaun T in Insanity, avoiding cooking in my tiny kitchen, trying (and failing) to eat ramen and read a book at the same time, pining for a Long Island deli bagel, and binge watching shows that I’ve already binge watched ten times already.


Nikkita Kent

Hey all! I’m Nikkita Kent, a second year JET in the lovely inaka that is Gunma Prefecture. Originally from Florida in the United States, moving from the ocean to a landlocked prefecture has been an adventure. When not at work, you can find me enjoying the indoors as much as the outdoors. Coffee shops, cooking, and writing novels on one hand. Adventure sports, running, and Krav Maga on the other. Let’s make this the best year yet!


Alice Ridley

Kia ora, I’m Alice Ridley a first year ALT currently hanging out in the mighty cabbage patch Gunma or the bellybutton of Japan. Here to celebrate and find the small pockets of magic which hide in every community, whether the place is big or small, here in Japan. The land I call home is Aotearoa (New Zealand), Otautahi (Christchurch). Otautahi is well known for a large earthquake which destroyed most of our central city. But with it grew an original and resilient community which we thrived in together. This is why I am so passionate about hearing from communities. When I am not doing this I am found hiking up Gunma mountains, munching on vegetables and coaxing local cats to love me (still working on this one).


Gavin Au-Yeung

General Section Editor

Hi everyone! My name is Gavin, I’m originally from Toronto, Canada but now find myself as a second year JET in the Gunma prefecture. While I’m not teaching my senior high school students, you can probably find me playing basketball, exploring Japan, or simply spending countless hours watching YouTube videos. I’m looking forward to this year!


Tayler Skultety

General Section Editor

Hey all, I’m a 3rd year JET teaching in the historic prefecture of Nara. I studied Anthropology and Japanese culture in Victoria, B.C., Canada and am now enjoying every minute of my time in Japan. I’m also active in my local AJET chapter, I love volunteering with animals when I can and am keen on traveling this beautiful second home.

Assistant Designers


Pippa Lawrie

Hi, I’m Pippa Lawrie, and I’m a first year JET ALT living in Morioka, Iwate. I’m originally from Adelaide, Australia, so I have a great deal of apprehension regarding the coming winter. But I came here with the intention of challenging myself, so I shouldn’t complain (although I most definitely will). I hope to spend a lot of time snowboarding when the colder months roll around, but for now my little spare time is spent studying Japanese and working on my design portfolio. I majored in creative digital media, so I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to be an assistant designer for Connect Magazine this year.


Rhe Baquero

Hey, y’all! I’m Rhema from Houston, Texas. I am a first year ALT in the great port city of Kobe. I have a M.A. in Magazine, Newspaper and Online journalism. I worked as a reporter, editor and multimedia teacher before moving to Japan. I’m excited to be an assistant designer with Connect Magazine and to continue working with media! I love reading, writing, drawing, sewing, photography, superheroes and coffee. I look forward to spending my time here improving my Japanese and learning about the culture of Japan with my husband, Marc.

Head of Design and Layout


Ashley Hirasuna

Hello beautiful humans! My name is Ashley Hirasuna and I am a fourth year (almost unicorn, but not quite…so…horse…) JET ALT in Ishikawa Prefecture. I enjoy drawing, designing, traveling, taking photos, drinking and keeping busy in general. Connect has served to be a vital part of my JET and Japan experience and I hope that everyone has as much fun reading the magazine as I have designing it.

Social Media


Celine Bennett

Howdy do! My name is Celine and I’m an ALT based in Fukushima-ken and I’m enjoying the area so much! I’m from the state of Missouri in the USA and I really enjoy photography, drawing, eating curry and being a bit sassy. I take care of posting to our Facebook and Twitter so I hope you follow and enjoy all our social media pages!

Copy Editors


Emily Riley

Hello, everyone! I’m Emily, one of this year’s copy editors for Connect. I’m originally from Arkansas, USA, where we hillbillies do, in fact, wear shoes. Currently a first year ALT in a rural part of Hyogo prefecture, I’m surrounded by fluffy trees and tall mountains, and that’s just the way I like it! Despite the fact that my grandmother thinks I’m brave for moving here, I’m pretty sure I’m a scaredy-cat. Let’s blame my oversized imagination. You can regularly catch me savoring cakes, devouring books, pretending I’m some kind of photographer, or doodling during every lecture I attend.


Aziz Krich

Hello everyone! My name is Aziz and I am a fifth year ALT living and working in Shiga, right by the beautiful Lake Biwa. I’m originally from Bury St. Edmunds, a quaint little town in the east of England. I have a BA degree in philosophy and a MA with a focus on East Asian international relations. I’m massively into hip hop, a bit of a film buff and crazy about football (soccer to some of you).