Friday, September 29, 2006

One year ago, I filled out a bunch of forms and made all sorts of promises in order to apply for a travel and study grant to Japan. Six months later, I learned that I was accepted into the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund program and now, my departure date of October 1, 2006 is finally close at hand. First, I will spend a day of orientation in San Francisco, California. Then, I and the other 199 educators who were selected from across the USA to participate in this wonderful program will fly to Tokyo. After spending a week in the city which I have heard described as "New York on steroids", we will be divided into smaller groups of about twenty people. Each group will travel to a different prefecture or province. I am going to the city of Chigasaki in the prefecture of Kanagawa. It is a sea coastal town with a population of 220,000. I understand that Chigasaki is known for its wonderful beaches.

The purpose of this trip is to learn about the Japanese educational system and culture so that international dialogue and understanding will be encouraged and strengthened. Every day will be filled with presentations and visits to all levels of schools from prekindergarten programs on up through college level institutions. We will be treated to performances of traditional Japanese theater and explore ancient shrines and temples. I will stay with a Japanese family for a weekend and spend a night at a traditional inn. Maybe I'll ride a bullet train or get to go to a baseball game. Hopefully I won't experience an earthquake.

When I return to the United States, I am obligated to share what I learned with my students, education colleagues and greater community. So be prepared to hear me talk your ear off about Japan this and Japan that. (Really, I will try to restrain myself unless encouraged...) For the record, I never thought that I'd have a reason, inclination or desire to blog, but this seems to be a good way to keep track of my daily activities and to communicate my thoughts as I travel about Japan. I am especially eager to stay in touch with my school community at Ely Elementary and Rugby High School, Rugby, North Dakota. Hi, Everyone! So, besides being an actual physical journey, this trip is prompting me to explore the (new to me) virtual world of blogging. Wish me luck.

Thanks to my superintendent, Mr. Jeff Lind and Rugby Public Schools for supporting me in this wonderful adventure!


Bill Jansen said...

Good Luck and have a great time! Don't eat any rotten sushi.

Jeff Lind said...


We are proud of you being selected for the honor of representing our school and country in this program. Have a great trip!

Mr. Z said...

Thank you so much. This is going to be a great adventure. I hope I will be able to stay up on the blogging. I hope to keep everyone posted.


Anonymous said...

Well, did you make it to Japan? Don't worry, we are all behaivng back here. What was the thing that surprised you the most so far?


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Zwingel,
Mrs. Rham's third graders are excited to hear from you. Here are a few questions from the class.
Dominic wants to know if you have ridden the really fast train, called the Bullet in Japan? If you have, what was it like? Most of our class wonders what kind of Japanese food you have eaten? We would like to know what Japanese recess and phy ed are like. What is music class like in Japan? Right now we are playing percussion instruments, like the triangle and drums. We are learning rhythms and we even play games where we toss a ball to the rhythm. Piper wondered if the Japanese people and students like tattoos? Our class also wondered if the Japanese have a Life Skills program where they learn not to do drugs and how to treat others respectfully?
We hope you have a great week. Mrs. Black/Mrs. Rham/Ely Third Graders

P.S. How do you understand all the words the Japanese people are saying to you?

Mr. Z said...

Mrs. Hagen,
Tokyo is so clean. No garbage or vandalism anywhere.