Wright picked to participate in Fulbright teacher program'

Tanya Wright had a problem handling mail at her home one day last week when a letter arrived from the Fulbright Memorial Fund.

"I was so nervous I couldn't open it," she said.

"I had my son, Riley, open and read it to me."

The letter notified Wright, a sixth-grade teacher at Black Mountain Elementary School, that she has been chosen to participate in the Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program.

The program affords cultural exchange and professional development in Japan for 600 teachers and administrators annually.

Wright learned of the program while attending a two-day gifted education conference in Las Vegas last March.

She applied prior to the Dec.

10, 2002 deadline.

"I thought it would be a wonderful experience," Wright said.

"I'll be interested to see not only how they live, but how they teach.

We're always hearing that test scores in Japan are higher than ours, so I'll be interested to find out what they're doing differently."

The 600 teachers and administrators make trips in groups of 200 three times per year for three weeks each.

Wright's group will depart from San Francisco following an orientation session and she will be in Japan during the period of Nov.

16-Dec.

5.

The program is funded by the government of Japan and honors the memory and ideals of the late Senator J.

William Fulbright by expressing his continuing commitment to friendship and understanding and for Japan's appreciation for the benefits in has derived from the Fulbright Program.

The Japan-United States Educational Commission, a binational commission of 10 members, administers the program.

The Institute of International Education (IIE) serves as the coordinating organization in the U.S.

"During the first week, each group is in Tokyo learning about the Japanese economy, culture and political situation with an overview of society included," Chris Powers, representative with the IIE in Washington, D.C., said.

"In the second week, they break into smaller groups and go to different prefectures to visit schools, industry and cultural sites and learn more of what does on in education.

They also have the opportunity to interact with children."

"The third week is back in Tokyo for a wrap-up and time of sharing what everyone has learned."

Fulbright Memorial Fund Scholars like Wright have all expenses related to the trip paid by the government of Japan, Powers said.

Wright speaks no Japanese but said she expects to pick up simple words and phrases during the trip.

"I'm excited and anticipating what I may do," she said.

"I'll bring some Japanese culture back for a greater understanding between our two countries."

Powers said there were 2,500 applicants for the 600 scholarships, the second largest number since the program began in 1997.