Teaching “Trunk” Goes Virtual and Brings Culture

ROCKLAND – The Red Trunk Project, developed by Rockland County native Kevin Thomsen, has launched a digital version on May 8 for educators teaching remotely and parents who are home schooling their children. Geared primarily toward third graders, the online version is dubbed Redd Trunk—the extra “d” for digital—and was created to take the place of the normal Red Trunk in-class learning experiences.

The mission of The Red Trunk Project is to connect children to different world cultures through fun hands-on activities. In the first series, students learn about life in Oaxaca, Mexico, and review a different lesson each day for 10 days, none taking longer than 20 minutes to complete. They learn about Oaxaca’s terrain, arts and crafts, traditions and celebrations, clothing, foods, and musical instruments. There are also extended activities suggested for extra credit, like making hot chocolate, a traditional Mexican treat.

The Red Trunk Project was founded in 2017 as a cultural initiative based on the idea that children should learn to Respect Every Difference—the RED in Red Trunk. The organization’s goals are to give students an immersive cultural learning experience in an enjoyable way.

“The overarching goal is to alleviate bigotry and cultural ignorance, ensuring that the next generation better understands their fellow citizens around the globe,” says Kevin Thomsen, President, and Founder.

In the normal in-school experience, a physical Red Trunk is delivered to a school, and inside are dozens of cultural artifacts from the country being represented such as arts and crafts, clothing, currency, and musical instruments for the children to discover together. The trunk also includes ‘mini-doc’ videos and booklets detailing the lives of children in the culture, immersive 360-degree virtual reality footage, along with a comprehensive lesson plan that creates a deep and lasting cultural experience. As Red Trunk Project expands, thousands of trunks, in a dozen languages, containing cultures from a dozen different countries, will be circling the globe.

Thomsen, the father of two adopted children from the Republic of Georgia and Ethiopia, spent the past 18 years wondering how children learn about their own culture and other cultures around the world and how understanding those cultures impacts their respect and treatment of others. The answer is that it is vitally important and ‘cultural education’ is perhaps THE key to ridding the world of bigotry and prejudice. It is a simple yet powerful idea that’s more important than ever in the world we’re living in.”

The second in the cultural series will be life in Kenya and is being prepared now. For more information, please visit https://redtrunkproject.org

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