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December 19, 2011 Just Do It -- Apply for the Japan-U.S. Teacher Exchange Program By Angela Bunyi
Grades 3–5

    In 2006, I was afforded an all-expenses paid adventure to Japan through the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund (JFMF). This included a three-week tour of Japanese schools, cultural expeditions, learning, and friendship. The only thing the program requested in exchange was that I share the knowledge I had gained upon returning to the United States. It truly was life-altering for me, and I will be eternally grateful for having had the opportunity.

    Sadly, because of economic struggles, the JFMF has dissolved. Luckily, a smaller program has been created and is entering its third active year. I would like to take a second to encourage you to apply for the Japan-U.S. Teacher Exchange Program for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). That may be a mouthful, but reviewing the process will not be a waste of your time.

    How to Apply

    With the Japan-U.S. Teacher Exchange Program, the Institute of International Education (IIE) provides 24 U.S. teachers and administrators the opportunity to travel to Japan for fifteen days. Recipients also attend a conference in San Francisco and collaborate with Japanese teachers participating in the program. Unlike my program, the ESD asks that teachers develop curriculum in conjunction with the trip.

    The deadline to submit the online application, which includes two online references, is Tuesday, January 31, 2012. You can find more information at:


    Another Opportunity: GEEO

    In addition, I wantto bring your attention to the Global Exploration for Educators Organization (GEEO), which runs fee-based international trips for teachers. Please note that the GEEO is not affiliated in any way with IIE. However, if you are interested in international travel, you might want to look into their programs. For more information on GEEO, visit their Web site.


    A Personal Note on Applying to Be a Traveling Educator

    A few years ago on a whim I signed up for a six-month teaching internship in Sweden and was selected. I just wouldn’t even know where to begin on how much I learned through that experience. I have no doubt that it very much makes me who I am today.

    I applied for the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund on a similar whim. I was studying for my culminating exam for my Education Specialist degree and found a small address on the JFMF application process in my notebook. The note was over a year old — I'd made it when a peer mentioned the program in passing after finishing a presentation. I clicked on the link for the program and then sighed, seeing that I had missed the deadline by one day. I signed up for their newsletter and told myself I would apply the following year. A few hours later, I received an email that said the JFMF deadline had been extended to the following Monday due to a technical glitch in receiving applications online. "That was my sign," I thought, and away I went, completing the application. I literally jumped up and down after I ripped that acceptance letter open at the mailbox.

    Then last year I was afforded the opportunity to attend a NASA Space Camp in Turkey for ten days with a group of 6th graders. Again, I said yes on a whim, half expecting something to go wrong or to be excluded from the trip somehow. It was a wonderful learning experience as well. And do I have plans for an international opportunity this summer? Yes I do!


    So Just Apply

    Please feel free to write me with any questions you have. Meanwhile, here is an old blog I kept while traveling to Japan. It also has pictures from Greece and Italy, along with a splash of posts about running. You’ll find my trip to Japan under October 2006.


    Do it!

    In summary, make that jump: don’t be afraid to apply. The worst thing that can happen is that you are not accepted.






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