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Webb student headed to Japan this summer

A Webb School of Knoxville student has been awarded a full scholarship for a trip to Japan this summer.

Anjali Bisaria, a junior, has been accepted by Youth for Understanding United States of America as an international high school exchange student and received the Japan-America Friendship scholarship.

“I’ll be going for a six-week program somewhere in Japan, they haven’t decided yet, and I’ll be staying with a host family the entire time. I will go to a school everyday and be involved in whatever school activities are offered,” Bisaria said. High school is in session in Japan during her summer vacation.

Bisara said she “was very excited” when she was told she had been chosen for the scholarship.

“I’m pretty sure I screamed really loudly and startled a few people around me,” Bisaria said, adding her dad called her while she was at a track meet to tell her the news.

Though Bisaria said she has been interested in Japanese language and culture for at least three years, there is no language requirement for this scholarship.

“They aren’t going to teach me Japanese. I’m going to go into these classes and it is assumed I will pick it up,” she said. “I speak a little Japanese already. I’ve been taking some classes for three years.”

Bisaria meets with Shigeko Uppuluri in her home in Oak Ridge once a week for private lessons.

“We go through Japanese language books they use at different colleges,” she said. “There are a lot of emerging nations right now, but there are some I think would be more useful for certain things. Japanese language is easier to learn compared to some of the other ones, and it still has a lot of use like business. In Tennessee there are a lot of Japanese companies that have set up here.”

She said she is learning both spoken Japanese language and written Chinese characters. “Right now I am better at reading and writing than I am at speaking. That’s hopefully going to change,” she added.

Bisaria does not know who her host family is yet, but said she should know in the next two or three weeks.

“I’ll probably at least try to e-mail them and try to get to know something about them,” she said. “One of the big things when you stay with someone you’re supposed to bring tokens of appreciation for being a host family.”

One of the requirements of the scholarship, Bisaria said, is that she share her experiences with her school and community, teach others about the culture in Japan and encourage other students to participate in foreign exchange.

“I’ll probably wait till school starts back up [to give the presentation]. The plan as of now is to do a presentation to the language department at my school. They have been looking for a good exchange program that kids can do over the summer. I know a lot of students can’t give up a whole year of high school because of class requirements and other things they want to pursue. So this way they don’t have to miss anything in high school, but they still get the experience of going to another country.”

Bisaria said she would like to let people in the area know about the program.

“I’d really like to applaud Youth for Understanding. They are not that well-known around here. But it’s pretty big in other places. They have programs everywhere, except maybe Antarctica.”

YFU USA works with international partners in more than 50 countries and offers semesters, summer and year-long educational programs. More information is available at


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