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Day returns from Fulbright trip to Japan

December 16, 2003


Dr. Martha M. Day, adjunct professor of agriculture at Austin Peay, has returned from a Fulbright Memorial Fund study tour of Japan.

Day was one of 196 educators selected by the Fulbright Memorial Fund, which is sponsored by the government of Japan, for a three-week study tour. The group included representatives from all 50 states. Gov. Phil Bredesen gave Day a Tennessee state flag that had flown over the state capitol to present to the mayor of Shimabara, Nagasaki–a gift of goodwill to the people of Japan.
December 16, 2003


Dr. Martha M. Day, adjunct professor of agriculture at Austin Peay, has returned from a Fulbright Memorial Fund study tour of Japan.

Day was one of 196 educators selected by the Fulbright Memorial Fund, which is sponsored by the government of Japan, for a three-week study tour. The group included representatives from all 50 states. Gov. Phil Bredesen gave Day a Tennessee state flag that had flown over the state capitol to present to the mayor of Shimabara, Nagasaki—a gift of goodwill to the people of Japan.

“I was overwhelmed by how warmly and graciously our Japanese hosts welcomed us into their country and into their homes,” she says. “It was very impressive to see a country of such hard-working people. Japan is 25 times smaller than the United States—about the size of California. Yet, its gross national product is second only to the GNP of the United States.”

During what was estimated to be a $25,000 professional development experience, Day visited educational institutions at all grade levels, participated in a home stay with a Japanese family and stayed in a traditional Japanese ryokan inn.

“The trip changed my life by changing my perspective about many things,” she says. “Japanese school children and teaching pedagogy in Japanese schools are much more similar to the American education system than most Americans believe. When I visited Japanese schools, I was pleasantly surprised to see lively, excited children who were actively participating in the learning process.”

During the three weeks she was immersed in Japanese culture, Day sent “many detailed e-mails” on her adventures to her colleagues and students. “I was welcomed home with a million questions,” she says. “This experience has opened up a ‘window to the world' for my students.

“Now that I'm home, I'm taking advantage of my students' curiosity about the trip to teach, teach, teach. I will share with my (college agriculture) students how fortunate we are in the United States to have access to large amounts of land to produce crops and livestock. I was surprised to see how much Japanese farmers could produce with a very, very small amount of land. Crops are planted quite literally up to the back doorstep of the home.

“I will challenge my students to think of ways to produce more with fewer natural resources.”

Day, who also teaches science at Whites Creek High School in Davidson County, already has been able to “discuss everything, from Japanese politics to Japanese cuisine” with her high school students.

“I brought each one a pair of chopsticks, and we've practiced picking up ‘Smarties' candies with them,” she says.

Day will share her experiences with her students, fellow educators and pre-service teachers by designing lesson plans, seminars and articles showcasing her travel experience. “What a blessing it is to be a teacher, or sensei, as the Japanese say,” she says. “Those who teach must never cease to learn!”
—Rebecca Mackey