The sixth graders were recently given a very strange homework assignment. They were asked to pack a suitcase with items which they thought were essential to them – items with which they could not do without. The problem was the students were not told where they were “going” nor for how long they would “stay”. The questions from the children were numerous, the answers were few.
The following day, both classrooms were littered with clothing, stuffed animals, books, sports equipment, flashlights, toothbrushes and paste, water bottles, and nail polish (!) to name but a few “essential” items. The children discussed and debated the necessity of some of these items and jointly compiled a list of what they simply could not live without regardless of their destination.
The purpose of this assignment was to get the youngsters thinking. What if they were suddenly told that they would be leaving home the following day? How would they feel if they had to pack without understanding where they were going or for how long they would be gone?
Our new novel, Hana’s Suitcase, is about a ten-year old child who faced deportation during Hitler’s regime. As a result of our “suitcase” assignment, the sixth graders have been sensitized to the real-life experiences of another child in another time. Hopefully, our LCC students will become adults who will show compassion and acceptance for any culture and religion without exception. – Belinda Rother, Grade 6 English and History, Geography and Citizenship; English Coordinator, Junior School