“Flat Stanley” Makes Presidential Visit

April 22, 2005

“FLAT Stanley,” a paper doll modeledafter the protagonist of Jeff Brown’spopular children’s book of the samename, arrived in Costa Rica this month –and went straight to the top, stopping fora photograph with President AbelPacheco at Casa Presidencial.The reason for the one-dimensionalvisit: an award-winning educational projectthat has brought children around theworld into contact with cultures theywouldn’t otherwise experience.The project is based on the popularchildren’s book “Flat Stanley” by JeffBrown, in which the title character is flattenedby a falling bulletin board and mustcome to grips with his new shape. After aperiod of adjustment, he discovers certainadvantages to flatness, including the abilityto be sent in the mail – the inspirationfor the international project. Studentsdraw their own Flat Stanley to send torelatives or other classes.Those who receive the doll areinstructed to treat him like a guest, takehim to a variety of places, photographhim in his new environment and keep ajournal, from Stanley’s point of view,detailing his experiences. Depending onthe time frame of each project, Stanley’shosts may be instructed to forward himon to another willing recipient.This was the case with the StanleyThe Tico Times received last week. Keith,a student from Escanaba in the U.S. stateof Michigan, sent his Stanley to hisgrandmother, who forwarded him on to afriend in Seoul, South Korea. His hostthere forwarded him to Joy Blake andNicola MacNevin of La Uruca, a northwesterndistrict of San José.Blake and MacNevin, who both teachEnglish to adults, took Stanley hiking atBarva Volcano and to other locations.“The project makes you think aboutthe things you do that are unique to whereyou live,” MacNevin said.On the official project Web site, flat stanley.enoreo.on.ca, where interestededucators can find resources for conductingtheir own Flat Stanley projects, teacherspost raves about the enthusiasm theproject has generated. Educators in low incomeareas say students who havenever left their hometowns get unusualaccess to other countries and ways of lifethrough the eyes of their Flat Stanleys.Flat Stanleys have been photographedwith world leaders and celebrities includingU.S. President George W. Bush,Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin,actor Clint Eastwood, legendary boxingchamp Muhammed Ali; former U.S.Secretary of State Colin Powell and ex-President Bill Clinton.

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