Who Are We? Students’ backpacks reflect their personalities

Senior+Vivian+Lee%27s+backpack+carries+a+sewing+kit%2C+a+screwdriver%2C+safety+pins%2C+and+a+Tide+stick.

Senior Vivian Lee's backpack carries a sewing kit, a screwdriver, safety pins, and a Tide stick.

Akshara Majjiga

When walking through a crowded MVHS hallway during a passing period, backpacks seem to be coming from all directions. Flashes of color in the otherwise world of black and grey backpacks are sometimes apparent, but many backpacks look the same. To some, backpacks seem like a generic, almost boring, thing to think about, simply because almost everyone has one. Some students, however, have a little more to their bags that may not be clear from just the occasional passing glance. These bags carry a world of memories and hints of a personality hidden behind the durable fabric.

Senior Jaclyn Huang carries jewelry tweezers, a lint roller, a measuring tape, large sized bandaids and more in her backpack.

Senior Jaclyn Huang carries jewelry tweezers, a lint roller, a measuring tape, large-sized bandaids and more in her backpack.

TRAVEL-SIZED

In middle school, senior Jaclyn Hwang tripped and skinned her knee on the school blacktop. When the teachers finally fetched a bandaid for her bleeding knee, she discovered that it only covered approximately two thirds of the cut. From then on, the supply of large-sized bandaids in her bag grew. And she never looked back.

“Everything just builds up,” she said. “I like the feeling of when I need something, I definitely have it.”

Since then, her inventory has increased to, among other things, several different lotions, jewelry tweezers, a lint roller, a measuring tape and, of course, bandaids.

“It’s like the four corners of my backpack,” she said, as she rifled through it.

To some extent, Hwang’s tendency to fill her backpack with everything she could possibly envision needing for a day of school is hereditary. Her mother keeps her car and purse in a similar manner. Someday, when Hwang gets her own car, she imagines it will be just like her mother’s.

“I think it’s on a personality basis,” she said. “It’s totally fine to carry almost nothing.”

All of Hwang’s items have a story. Whether she was drawn to an item because it was small and adorable or out of pure necessity, she has found uses for almost everything in her bag.

“I’ve invested a lot in getting the travel sized things,” she said. “When I’m at Target, I’m like ‘Oh, travel-sized, let me get this!’”

And, to carry her abundance of knick knacks, Hwang needs a backpack that will get the job done, preferably one that won’t rip when she needs it most — which has happened multiple times before.

“The two criteria I have for a backpack is,” she said. “It needs to have a laptop compartment so I can put stuff that isn’t a laptop in there, and it has to be really durable.”

Hwang acknowledges that others may not carry quite as much stuff as she does, but she doesn’t mind lugging the extra weight to school. She believes that this tendency is rooted in her personality. She enjoys the feeling that she can always be there to help her friends, whether they need jewelry tweezers to get a thorn out of their hand or a lint roller to get off all the fur from their scarves or their black shirts. Her backpack bulges with the weight of everything she carries, but to her, it’s worth it.

Junior Justin Yun has an unusual bright pink shark key chain hanging from his backpack.

Junior Justin Yun has an unusual bright pink shark key chain hanging from his backpack. Photo By Akshara Majjiga

A “MANLY” SHADE OF PINK

Since last summer, junior Justin Yun has gotten many questions, mostly from girls, about the peculiar pink shark key chain on his otherwise basic black Northface backpack.

However, to Yun the key chain is not strange; it is a memory of a trip he took over the summer. Along with his friends, Yun traveled to Japan a few months ago for a Boy Scouts trip. Over 35,000 scouts attended, making it the perfect place to meet new people. He purchased the keychain at an aquarium to be a relic of a “really cool” trip.

“I actually got [the key chain] with one of my other friends,” he said. “We wanted something matching and we decided that pink totally matched our personalities. Pink is pretty manly.”

Besides that, Yun likes the look of the shark on his backpack and how it helps him stand out from the crowd of black backpacks in the school. In the past, he has had other key chains, but none of them got him quite as much attention as this one.

Another thing Yun says was only partially intentional was that the shark helps him show pride for his local sports team, the San Jose Sharks. Since school started, it has also helped him meet some new people who are curious about it.

“It’s memories from what I did over the summer, and on the side, it’s also supporting my local sports team,” Yun said. “It also squeaks.”

Senior Vivian Lee's backpack carries a sewing kit, a screwdriver, safety pins, and a Tide stick.

Senior Vivian Lee’s backpack carries a sewing kit, a screwdriver, safety pins, and a Tide stick. Photo By Akshara Majjiga

ALWAYS PREPARED

Senior Vivian Lee’s backpack is inconspicuous among the sea of backpacks at MVHS. It is a fairly plain grey Jansport backpack, but it’s what’s inside it that makes it really unique.

Lee’s backpack inventory is built off of what she carries on her family’s camping trips. On her trips, she carries a variety of resources, and, afterwards, she transfers them from her camping backpack to her school backpack and adds more as needed. Over the years she has built up to carrying a sewing kit, a screw driver, safety pins, a Tide stick and perfectly cut apple slices.

“I like to carry things because people always ask me [for things],” she said.

Her unusual tools have had an array of different uses over the years, ranging from using Tide to clean an accidental stain off a friend’s clothes, to using a screwdriver to wedge a jammed locker open. She, like Hwang, feels that her role model for preparedness was her mother.

Lee feels like the go-to person in her group of friends to get anything and everything they need, and she enjoys helping them without having to worry about not having things when needed.

“I like being prepared,” she said. “I’m pretty resourceful. It feels pretty accomplishing when someone asks you for something and you actually have it.”

Lee has been asked repeatedly for safety pins, which she dubs her most useful backpack item. But, if she ever realizes that she needs something that she doesn’t have, she proceeds to add that to her already well-used backpack for future use. However, there are some things that Lee never has had the chance to add to her bag. Good thing her friends are always there to return the favor and loan her one.

“The only thing I don’t carry are hair ties which, ironically, I always need,” Lee said.