Friday, April 1, 2011

Flat stanley....

Henry is in first grade this year. One project that all first graders look forward to is "Flat Stanley."  This is a book in which a little boy is accidentally flattened by a file cabinet.  Although he isn't hurt, he is now as flat as a pancake.  Rather than sulking, Stanley finds that being flat allows him great opportunity.   He can fit into spaces he never could before, including an envelope, so he can be mailed to far off places.  It is a very sweet book that the kids love.  And, after the first graders read the book, they make their own Flat Stanley, and send them off to family and friends for wild adventures.  It is a great lesson about opportunity and geography and people living all across the country.

Henry sent Flat Stanley to his cousin Savannah in Oregon.  Stanley and Savannah had great fun dining out together, going to Savannah's Kingdom Hall, and playing in Oregon's spring rain.  Savannah even made a coat and umbrella for Flat Stanley. I'd post some of the Oregon photos, but they've already gone to Henry's school.

(Uncle Joel sent a picture of his own as well. Turns out Flat Stanley likes a beer now and again.  Hmmmm.  Needless to say, that picture did NOT make it into Henry's final project. Ha-ha Uncle Joel!! :)

Henry also emailed Flat Stanley to Aunt Annie in Rwanda. (My sister Annie is a Peace Corps volunteer).  From half way around the world, Annie sent these fabulous pictures back to us, along with some great stories about her life in Rwanda.  And the lives of the kids in her village and in her school.  So, the following words are Annie's....

P1020421 (2)

"This is Flat Stanley in a banana tree field." 

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"Near my house there is a lake called Lake Muhazi (Muhazi is also the name of my school).  It's a long walk to get out there on what.  The path looks like hiking trails but they are actually the paths to people's homes and the lake.  Many people catch fish from the lake to take to the market.  They also get water from the lake.

These are some kids that were at the lake getting water to take back to their home.  No one in my village has running water in their home so everyone must fill big plastic containers called "geri cans" with water from somewhere.  There is an outdoor faucet at my school so I fill my geri cans there.  On occasion the faucet doesn't work so I then pay someone to go fill my geri cans at the lake.  There are also a few other taps in the village but you must pay if you get water from them so many people just go to the lake to get it for free."
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"These are the kids heading back home with their geri cans filled with water. They use bananas or whatever they can find to plug the hole and carry the can on their head.  Everyone really does carry everything on their head here.  On market days I'm amazed by what people can balance on their head.  Huge bags of rice or baskets full of tomatoes,  I once saw a man carrying a bed on his head! I've seen little children who barely walk practicing how to carry small things on their heads."

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"These are the students from my English class.  There are about 50 students in my class.  This is the classroom I teach in.  The students stay in the class and the teachers move so I can't really hang up any pictures or decorations.  The students share the desks with either 2 or 3 at each one.  The only things in the room are desks, notebooks and the chalk board.  The school has a small library that really just stores textbooks.  We have them for students but most teachers don't use them often.  Students are not allowed to take the books home.  There is only one computer at the school.  It belongs to the secretary so the students are not able to use it."

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"These are some students just outside the classroom.  Students enter each room from outside.  The buildings are arranged in a rectangle with a courtyard in the middle.  The roof of the classrooms are made of tin.  When it rains really hard, it becomes so loud that it is impossible for the students to hear me speak.  The roof also leaks in some spots so the students have to move their desks around to avoid getting wet.

More About School in Rwanda
The students live at school so they eat all their meals there.  Everyday they always eat the same meal.  In the morning they have porridge (with sugar if they buy it themselves).  For lunch and dinner, they always eat rice and beans.  Some of the students have a small amount of money, so sometimes they buy some candy or crackers.  That is the only variety they have.  After school and on the weekend students have chores they do around the school.  They clean the classrooms, cut the grass, or wash their clothes.  There are also so clubs that gather to sing or pray.  Sometimes they will play soccer or volleyball.  Every night from 6pm-8pm the students must return to their classrooms and study for 2 hours.  After studying they eat and then go to bed."

Deb again....
I am SO proud of Annie.  Overwhelmingly proud.  She is so brave.  And she is making a difference everyday.  I could offer a whole lot more commentary, but I think I'll let Annie's wonderful words stand on their own tonight.  More another time....

Thanks to all our family who hosted Flat Stanley for a little visit.  We all had a great time!!

(If you want to read more about Annie and her Peace Corps adventures, visit her blog "The Long Way Around."

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