Just days before the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan, Keith Hannaman found out he had been selected for the Fulbright Fellowship Program.

Just days before the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan, Keith Hannaman found out he had been selected for the Fulbright Fellowship Program.

By receiving the Fulbright Japan Award, the Blue Springs South High School teacher, has the opportunity to travel to Japan to discuss environmental and conservation issues – a process that now takes on a whole new meaning.

“Since the experience is based on Educational Sustainable Development and environmental issues, this is a perfect time to observe and collaborate with Japanese educators on how they will translate this situation into meaningful educational opportunities and a compassionate understanding,” said Hannaman, whose itinerary remains unchanged in the wake of the natural disasters.

The Fulbright program was created by Congress in 1946, following World War II. The goal is to promote an understanding between the United States and other countries to relevant issues such as the environment. The program has developed into one of the world’s largest, known specifically for the educational exchange component. More than 155 countries participate, including Japan.

The Japan-U.S. Teacher Exchange Program for Education for Sustainable Development will provide as many as 48 teachers and administrators the opportunity to travel to Japan to learn about sustainable development and conservation efforts. Hannaman will be in Japan from June 21 to July 5, visiting parts of southern Japan.

“The program in Japan for U.S. educators will include an orientation to Japanese culture and education, workshops and presentations with experts in ESD, visits to cultural sites, a home stay with a Japanese family, visits to ESD-focused schools and other ESD resources sites,” Hannaman said. “A Joint Conference between the Japanese and U.S. teachers in Tokyo, focused on the collaborative development of ESD curriculum will also be a part of the experience. The program in Japan will be fully funded with the exception of some meals.”

Hannaman, who has been teaching at Blue Springs South for 10 years, said he is looking forward to meeting with educators in Japan to observe their programs. He said he hopes to be able to bring home information that he can not only share with his students, but the community.

“My major goal is for this program to be a truly rewarding and enriching professional development situation. The opportunity for professional growth such as this does not come along very often,” he said. “I am already familiar with some aspects of ESD. I will be learning more and expected to return to South and teach more about ESD and try and integrate ESD projects into my Advanced Placement Environmental Science curriculum.”