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Confronting Child Labor

By Katharine Johnson

To help my students start to think about the origins of the goods we purchase in U.S. stores, we began with a "label hunt." Students worked in pairs to identify the countries of origin for their shoes and their shirts. I made a list of the countries where our clothes were manufactured and together we tallied the number of articles made in each country. Most of the clothing was manufactured throughout Southeast Asia; the shoes primarily came from China. Then I gave them world maps and asked them to highlight all the countries from our list.

"I have a bunch of highlighting down here by India," noted Irina*.

"Yeah, me too. How do you say this place Bon . . . Bang . . . "

"Bangladesh," I answered.

"Dang, that's far," said Deja. " I bet it took her shirt like a week to get here."

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