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ERIC Number: EJ825640
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1083-5415
Voyages of Discovery through a Backpack Exchange
Syz, Tracy Hong
Learning Languages, v14 n1 p10-11 Fall 2008
Backpacks are commonplace in American schools. Each day students transport them to and from the classroom as they manage to carve out a little oasis of space to gather their treasures, homework and books. In Fair Lawn's recently launched Chinese classes, backpacks take on new responsibility, becoming culture bearers that connect middle school children from East and West and provide insight into the lives of new friends on the other side of the globe. In this article, the author talks about the backpack exchange, a whole-class project in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, that emphasizes cultural exchange. The backpack becomes a culture bearer, providing insight into items of interest to middle school learners. With the objective of getting to know the likes and interests of 12 or 13 year olds in the target culture, a bimonthly routine was established to send two backpacks across the world, one from each grade level, containing students' collaborative works which correspond to each designated theme of five voyages. The backpack exchange is an effective vehicle to develop a bridge of understanding between students' native culture and the target culture. Through the backpack project, the sixth, seventh and eighth grade American students studying Chinese are gaining firsthand experience with the target culture.
National Network for Early Language Learning. Winston-Salem, NC. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: China; New Jersey