Why I Want to Go to Japan....
All right, this is a looooong posting. It is part of the essay that I had to write to be considered for the award. This was one of the steps that a candidate had to go through, along with letters of recommendation, a proposal for a project, an application with questions to fill out and a lot of other paperwork! And that's just to be considered! Whew! :)
JFMF Essay One
“You have to be crazy,” my roommate screeched, staring at me wide-eyed when I told her that I had been accepted into COST, a program that places pre-service teachers in an international setting to do their student teaching. “You’ve never taught in a classroom, how in the world can you teach in another country?”
Yes, perhaps maybe I did share a little of my roommate’s view on my decision. Student teaching for me had always been anticipated with mixed emotions, and to do it in a different country made me even more anxious. It was the accumulation of my educational career, the time when I leave behind my spot sitting in the classroom and become the one speaking at the front. But on the other hand, this is what I had been preparing to do for the past four years. To teach. And teaching is going to present its challenges no matter where you are.
So you may call me a little crazy, although I prefer adventurous to be a better choice, because come the end of August, I packed my bags and headed to Costa Rica. I embarked on what I believe is one of the most amazing educational experiences I could have ever received. An experience that I want to continue through your Japan Fulbright Program.
I chose to teach abroad to experience a world different then what I was accustomed to, to immerse myself into a culture and be part of its daily life. Until college, I never had a class with a someone from a different ethnic background. I grew up in a middle class community where my grandparents grew up with my friends’ grandparents, and was removed from most of the problems that schools face today. I wasn’t ashamed of this nor was I proud; it was just the way that I was raised. But I did know that while I could not change the educational path my parents had provided for me, I could do something about my future training. That is why I began to take every opportunity that I could to involve myself with different settings and background. College was spent tutoring students and volunteering in different school communities. I worked at a language lab where I could interact with international students and at a summer camp that provided a respite for kids from disadvantage backgrounds and another for kids with mental handicaps. I attended graduate school at Boston University, and tried to involve myself as much as possible in the urban city life so I could continue to learn about different people and cultures. I believe that the only way to become a better educator is to get to know your students and in order to know them; you need to be aware and learn about their backgrounds. Through these experiences I began to see the world in different ways. I started to make connections with those who had backgrounds that were unlike mine, and I saw ways in which we were similar. I started to share myself with others, and in return, I started to grow personally by what I learned.
As I get to know my students more closely, I see a lot of my early background and myself in them. Perry High School is located in a rural suburb about thirty miles outside of Cleveland. It is a small school with about two hundred students in each graduating class. The Nuclear Power Plant is the main source of income for the school, however the majority of the students’ parents work in the nurseries that cover the town. There is little diversity in the school, and most students have not traveled far outside of Ohio. Many of my students plan grow up and stay in Perry their whole lives. I believe that the experience that I gain from learning about other cultures can help me bring those cultures to my students in the classroom. I will be able to give first hand accounts of the vast world that is awaiting them and link it to the literature that they are reading in the classroom. It is my hope that through my excitement, I can motivate my students to want to have these same experiences. I already have had successes incorporating my previous travel experiences into the classroom. I have introduced my students to different ideas and perspectives. I have worked to show them that different lifestyles, ideas and concepts that exist inthe world. I wish to continue my exploration of the world by participating in your program, and bring back new adventures to my students.
I see the role of the teacher as a guide. I lead my students to the information and open the world to them. But once I have taken them there, I allow them to explore and discover. Education is a never-ending process, and when you give a child the motivation they can do anything. I relate this thinking to the opportunity that your program presents. The experience that I receive from learning about the Japanese culture will reflect in my classroom teaching. I will be able to bring a culture first hand to my students. I will be able to describe to them my experiences, share with them the stories from the time I was there and inspire them to want to seek out new experiences also. My philosophy of education is that people learn best from
experience and sharing.
I believe that everyone has something to share and it is through sharing that we teach each other. Learning about others’ experiences help us find a common thread in others, to link a part of their lives to ours. Education is a never-ending process, regardless of age. Every individual you come in contact with has something that they can teach you. This philosophy links to how I view the Fulbright experience. Not only will I learn about a new country and culture, but also work with other educators from around America that I can learn from. While in Costa Rica, I worked collaboratively with the other teachers at the school where I taught. The American International School had teachers from all over the world, and together we worked on planning lessons, testing ideas and offering advice. I have continued to work with my fellow staff members through the Language Arts department and learning teams. I have continued to use team learning as I grow as an educator. I am currently taking on-line classes so I can work with fellow students from all over the United States. Through these classes, I discuss new ideas and learn different viewpoints and ways to understand issues. The Fulbright experience will allow me to test my ideas and share my knowledge with a new group of educators. I will be able to work side by side with teachers from all over the nation and share my expertise with them. I have learned different methods of teaching and have had my own personal success that I can share with the others I will work with in Japan. The information and advice that I receive from these people will benefit in my own classroom when I return from the trip. I plan to form bonds with them that would spread beyond the Japan experience and allow me to continue to communicate with them long after I return to the United States.
I believe the FMF is the perfect fit for where I am at in my educational career right now. I also feel that with my dedication, imagination, and love of education and travel; I am the perfect candidate for your program. The Fulbright Memorial Fund will help give me the tools to better reach my students and work towards helping them succeed. Inside me are strong forces, an enthusiasm and concern that drive me to work harder and learn more so I can begin to solve the problems that I find in the classroom. Your program would allow me to make connections to new ideas and situations, formulate personal ideas, test them, and share what I know. My philosophy of education is that people learn the best from experiences and sharing. As an educator in your program, I would not only learn, but also teach others by sharing what I know and have experienced. When we come together, we can only become stronger and better educators. I feel that learning never ends and the Fulbright Memorial Fund will give me additional tools to improve as an educator.