A Backpack Exchange Around the World


In the Fair Lawn School District, Bergen County, a new Chinese language program has been introduced. Thomas Jefferson Middle School teachers Sharon Yun Wang and Tracy Hong Syz established contact with a sister school in Tianjin, China, in order to implement a cultural exchange using a $2,100 grant from the Hipp Foundation.

Backpacks, a commonplace American staple in schools, take on a different responsibility in this project. Five times a year, backpacks are filled with products selected by students centered on a theme and mailed to the sister school in Tianjin. Students at the Tianjin Nankai Zhong Xue School in China restock the backpacks with native artifacts and ship it back to the United States. This exchange helps to strengthen and deepen students’ understanding of the culture, as well as the language, of the Chinese people.

The first backpack introduced students through a scrapbook, photo album, DVD, and other media. The second communicates school culture through photos, school materials, sample assignments, and schedules. The third backpack focuses on books and include samples of grade-level materials, book reports, editorials, and sample assignments. The theme of the fourth backpack is pastimes. Students share their favorite music, photos of school-related activities and sports, school supplies, and newspaper clippings. The final backpack shares holidays and traditions.

Each backpack will serve as a traveling museum that can be shared with students, their families, and communities.

For further information, contact:

Sharon Yun Wang
School - (201) 703-2240