A Flat Adventure from PEPY’s English Program
By: Kyla Solinger, Teacher Trainer
For the last two months, students in PEPY’s English program have been squashed flat and sent on adventures around the world! Based on the best-selling children’s story “Flat Stanley”, The Flat Stanley Project is an international literacy and community building activity which seemed perfect for our students from remote Chanleas Dai community.
Chim Seng (our English Teacher) has been working hard with his students to teach literacy in a whole new light by bringing Flat Stanley and his story to Chanleas Dai. Students spent a week reading the story, which chronicles the adventures of Stanley Lambchop. At first an ordinary boy, Stanley wakes up one morning completely flat after a very unfortunate accident involving a bulletin board. Stanley certainly makes the best of his new dimensions, sliding under doors to reach places he shouldn’t be, being used as a kite to feel the experience of flight and even becoming the local hero by posing as a painting to catch wily art thieves. However, the advantage that particularly draws attention is that Stanley is able to travel in an over-sized envelope to many different places for no more than the cost of a first class stamp. Our students’ focus on this special advantage was the beginning of The Flat Stanley Project.
Chim Seng’s first task was to explain the conceptual dilemma that Stanley finds himself in. What would the advantages and disadvantages be if you were to wake up flat one day? Students loved the idea of being swept away by a strong gust of wind, or hiding from their teacher behind the bookshelf, but were mostly concerned that they would not be able to ride their bicycles to school anymore. A dilemma, when living in rural Cambodia, which is alarming indeed!
The next step was for students to create their own flat persona and an envelope in which he or she might travel. Students either recreated their favorite image of Stanley Lambchop or they drew their best rendition of themselves. The flat Somniengs, Sinakks, and Somnangs were popped into an envelope, along with an accompanying letter about themselves, ready to take on the world!
The PEPY family has arms in many countries and so many people, previously involved with PEPY, jumped at the opportunity to host our flat students. What an amazing job people did! The flat students were sent back with photos galore and letters about their adventures. We had Flat Bunna learning Japanese and Flat Neirut tickling his taste buds with his first bite of sushi in Japan. Flat Chhouk taking a trip to the beach and Flat Sok hanging out at a baseball game in the US. I’m anticipating exciting adventures from our flat friends who visited Australia, Canada, and the UK and look forward to their return.
Needless to say, the students who have received their flat friends back were elated to see the efforts their host had gone to. They crowded together and looked at the pictures again and again, oohing and ahhing and exclaiming sa’at (beautiful) at every opportunity. The students will treasure these photos and letters for a very long time.
I must at this point say a warm thank you to all of the participants who hosted a Flat Student. They made this project the success it was. The students not only learned about themselves, but also about the differences between people and about the world around them, a lesson that is both memorable and invaluable.