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MRHS students taken on global tour via author’s work

Kelsey Timmerman, 31, recently traveled to Marvin Ridge High School to share his experiences meeting workers from around the world who actually made the clothes that he was wearing. Students were given the opportunity to have Timmerman autograph his book.

Have you ever looked at the label on your shirt and wondered who made that shirt or where the factory was located?

Kelsey Timmerman, a 31-year-old American writer from Indiana traveled the world to answer these questions, and then wrote a book about what he found. “Where Am I Wearing?” a summer reading book for students, is a “global tour to the countries, factories and people that make our clothes.”

“I’m just a guy that wears blue jeans that went to meet the people who made them,” he said during a recent trip to talk to students at Marvin Ridge High School. “I went into this project with no preconceived notions. I went in with an open mind. I wasn’t planning to track down child labor or looking to find awful sweatshop conditions. I just wanted to meet these people and learn about their lives, their struggles and their triumphs and to tell their stories.”

Timmerman said the main lesson he learned is that the workers around the world, no matter the circumstance, are just people doing a job. “Too often we paint these people as poor, downtrodden victims of globalization, and they’re just people with thoughts, hopes and dreams, and family members,” he said.

“I found on this trip, talking to these people and interacting with them person-to-person, that we are 99.9 percent the same. In their lives, they do face challenges that we don’t. We want what’s best for our children, what’s best for the next generation. We just want to get by and live the best life we can. That’s what we all share.”

To coincide with Timmerman’s visit, students watched a documentary on clothes being manufacturing in China. MRHS teachers were challenged to incorporate the topic into their lesson plans. History classes, for example, looked at the issues from historical perspective, while art students may have created various designs with a global perspective in mind.

Timmerman, who also spoke to students at Wingate and Phifer universities during his visit, came up with the idea for the book in 2005 when he traveled to Honduras. “When I went home, it started to bug me that I didn’t know about the lives of the workers who made my clothes. So I traveled to Bangladesh, Cambodia and China in 2007 and I was gone for about three months.”

Timmerman said he enjoys talking with students and sharing the stories of the workers who let him into their lives. “Telling their stories is a real honor, as is going around to schools and being able to talk to people,” he said.

“If everyone got up in the morning and looked at the tags in their clothes to see where they came from, how would that shape our world view? Just to think that there is someone on the far side of the world, that made this. If everyone did that, every morning, that would drastically change our world view.”

For more information about Timmerman, go to www.kelseytimmerman.com

 

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Oct 22, 2010 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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