Where are your shirts from? Kelsey Timmerman, author of “Where am I wearing?” visited Texas A&M University Kingsville Feb. 25 at Jones Auditorium to answer that very question. He told his story to the TAMUK UNIV freshman class, and the rest of the community. “When I walk into my closet, I think about the hundreds if not thousands of people around the world who had a hand in making my clothes. Jeans are no longer just jeans, shirts no longer just shirts, shoes no longer just shoes, closers are no longer just clothes. Each is an untold story,” Timmerman said of his journey around the world seeking the people who made his clothes. Over a decade ago, Timmerman began his search with a simple t-shirt which took him to Honduras. At first, it was an excuse to travel, Timmerman said. After going to college and receiving his anthropology degree, he became a scuba-diving instructor and saved up some money to travel. He began writing about these travels and was published in small magazines and other publications. “I knew that I could go anywhere in the world to travel and write about it I just wasn’t sure what next,” Timmerman said. It began with a t-shirt he had that says “come with me to my tropical paradise.” From there, he got inspired. “I thought what
if I went to wherever this t-shirt was made and I checked the tag which said Honduras. I booked a ticket and had all the adventures I wanted and thought well the least I could do is go to the factory where the shirt was made and maybe meet the person who made it,” Timmerman said. Visiting the factory, he struggled to get in and eventually waited out for the workers to come out. He then met 25-year-old Amilkar, who worked for the factory where Timmerman’s shirt was created. As he learned about Amilkar and his life at the factory and outside of it, he got to know him and avoided the questions he wanted to ask. “I didn’t ask the questions about how much they made, how they were able to support their families because I didn’t want to know. I didn’t think I was ready for the answer,” Timmerman said. After traveling all over the world for this book as well as his new book, Where am I eating? He felt connected to those he met with different but similar lives as him. “I was connected to the world in an interesting way. In the end you find out how similar we all are,” Timmerman said. Visiting TAMUK’s UNIV freshman class his goal was to educate the students about life and how they should broaden their horizons, think outside the box and see life outside of black and white. “I want to the students to learn that worlds not black white that the reality is an ugly grey middle,” Timmerman said. “I think its really important for students to explore and see the global connection we have around the world, it can really broaden our world perspective.” He is also the founder of the Facing Project, the Facing Project is a project for people to tell their stories and publish them. Timmerman helps students, writers, and communities get together to find their stories while helping the community tell their story. So far the Facing Project has been with 20 communities. After traveling and writing Timmerman visits different colleges and universities. Timmerman visits nearly 30 campus’ a year telling his story about his travels to students throughout the country. Different campus’ who have used Where am I wearing as their common read have made study abroad trips. The university invites Timmerman to join the students on the trip to explore those places he visited for his book. He traveled with West Texas A&M university where they traveled to Honduras. “It’s interesting to see students see the rest of the world for the first time. I want to inspire students to never be a jaded traveler, always travel with open eyes,” Timmerman said. Timmerman’s plans are to continue spreading the Facing Project and telling his story. His next trip will be to Costa Rica with the Ball State university students in May.