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While recently spending three weeks in Japan, Anthony Wayne High School teacher Randy Musgrove learned a simple truth.
"People are people. The things students worry about in Japan they worry about here. The things their parents worry about [there], they worry about here," said Mr. Musgrove, who visited the Asian country on a trip sponsored by the Fulbright Memorial Fund.
A teacher of Advanced Placement U.S. history, Mr. Musgrove said he was eager to learn more about Japan's role in World War II, especially because his late grandfather, Paul Musgrove, was at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, when it was bombed by Japan.
"Having that family history, and being a history teacher, I wanted to find out what they thought, but it is not a subject that is taught or talked about much," Mr. Musgrove said.
He did say he was moved by the words of a survivor of the atomic bomb blast at Hiroshima who recounted his experiences that day.
"He said he was a schoolboy at the time. He forgot something that morning as he was going to school, turned around, and went home to get it," Mr. Musgrove said. "He was in his basement looking for it when the bomb went off. That saved him. His family survived and left the city that day."
A woman whose father survived the blast told him that these nuclear survivors became victims of discrimination in Japanese society. "People thought there must have been something wrong with them," he said.
Mr. Musgrove was part of a group of 158 teachers from across the country selected to participate in the memorial fund's Teacher Program, which aims to increase educators' understanding of Japan. There were almost 2,000 applicants for the program.
"I felt very humble to be selected to represent Anthony Wayne," he said.
He learned he had been accepted in April, via a congratulatory letter from Japan, he said.
In his application, Mr. Musgrove emphasized three goals:
•Begin a cultural exchange that would have Anthony Wayne students and Japanese students sending letters to each other.
•Make this exchange so well established that it becomes a "unique relationship" between Anthony Wayne and the participating Japanese schools.
•Hold a "Peace Education Symposium" that would feature specialists at the university level teaching Anthony Wayne students about the conditions that lead to war and their early warning signs.
He said he is working on achieving these goals, adding he hopes to find a specialist from the University of Toledo who would be willing to lecture on peace education.
Mr. Musgrove said his trip was eye-opening.
Arriving in Tokyo Oct. 14, he and other group members were broken up and sent to various parts of Japan.
He went by domestic flight to Kumamoto and then to Uki City, where he visited schools.
He was surprised to learn that outside of Tokyo, Japan is not as high tech as perhaps the rest of the world believes. He said that only 50 to 60 percent of the students in the middle school he visited had computers at home, compared to virtually 100 percent at Anthony Wayne.
Also, he encountered more places than expected where broadband Internet access was not available.
It was Jim Fritz, the Anthony Wayne district's director of curriculum, who brought the Fulbright trip to Mr. Musgrove's attention and encouraged him to apply for it.
He said he thought the opportunity would be a good fit for the history teacher.
"I think the social studies department at the high school has shown its willingness to go beyond the day-to-day learning opportunities to help their kids," Mr. Fritz said.
"We've had other teachers go to Europe, and I thought this would be a great opportunity for Randy. I thought this would let me bring real-life experience to his classroom."