What is in your backpack?

How is it different from a student’s backpack in Ghana?

These were just a few of the questions I asked elementary and middle school students from Benjamin Banneker Charter School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Peter Menzel’s book, "Material World: A Global Family Portrait," photographed families from 30 different countries with their possessions outside their houses.  Using this same approach, I decided to photograph children and the materials from their backpacks.  I worked with the students to deconstruct how a material possession reflects their culture, gender, age, class, and ethnic background.  Each student proceeded to discuss, and write about the purpose each material possession had in his or her life. After this exercise, they thoughtfully arranged their materials for me to photograph and posed in front of the camera.

This project weaves together my interests in the field of intercultural relations, education, and the arts, while pursuing my goal to connect children internationally through a collaborative project. This summer I will send the American students’ photographs and letters to students in Ghana, Africa, so they can learn about American culture.  To continue the exchange, the Ghanaian students will participate in the project, and send their photographs and letters back to Benjamin Banneker students.