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The Travels of Flat Stanley; A Missouri Kindergarten Teacher's Project

Photo by J. Vincenti

Photo by J. Vincenti

The Travels of Flat Stanley; A Missouri Kindergarten Teacher's Project

The Travels of Flat Stanley


By Janet Vincenti, for Sarah Vincenti, a student in

Mrs. R. Ohlde’s Kindergarten Class


Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Hello, my name is Flat Stanley and I arrived via a Honolulu Postman to the mailbox of Sarah Vincenti’s aunt, Janet, who is a very busy nurse for The Salvation Army, and lives on Oahu, one of eight islands that complete the “State” of Hawaii, added as the fiftieth state to the United States in 1959. Nurse Janet was born in Pearl Harbor four years before it became a United State, but because her father was serving in the U.S. Navy there, was born a U.S. Citizen. Oahu became home to many military families after WWII, which began after an attack on Pearl Harbor. My hostess for a week, Janet, did not know I was coming; I kind of dropped in. So this is the story of my travels for the assignment time I visited her at her condo located at the base of a mountain and not far from a very famous beach in Waikiki.

I should also mention that I was supposed to go to Pennsylvania, to Sarah Vincenti’s other aunt, Jean’s house, but that family is so big that I was afraid I might get tossed into the schoolwork pile of all ten children living there and never make it back in time to tell my story! So last minute, I made a change to go to the busy tourist island of Oahu, instead. The weather was much nicer too! It never changes. The forecast for today… beautiful, and for tomorrow, beautiful! Everyday is beautiful and makes you appreciate the sky, clouds, the big lava mountains, the ocean, the fish, the culture, the “aloha” (which means hello, good-bye, and love), just so many different things on one pretty darn small island that is about forty-for miles long and thirty-three miles wide. Ms. Janet drove me around on my first day and we made it all the way around the island in about four hours!

The distance between the Hawaiian and Californian Coastlines, by way of the Pacific Ocean, is about three thousand miles and takes about three and a half hours to fly from Honolulu (the Capital of the State of Hawaii) to Los Angeles, California. Missouri, where I’m (Flat Stanley) from, is not only further away, but is also in a different time zone. The Hawaiian Islands are three thousand miles between continents (America and Asia). Oahu is on “Pacific Time,” and Missouri is on “Central Time,” which makes it unique that you can gain hours when flying West, but you will lose hours when flying East. People in Hawaii never have to change their clocks like I do in Missouri, turning them forward or back, depending upon the spring or fall time zone changes on the mainland (the continent where forty-eight of the fifty United States are located). Very complicated when you are in Kindergarten, but Mrs. Ohlde can teach you more about that.

So here I was, on an airplane over the Pacific Ocean, and then hand delivered by a mailman to Ms. Janet’s mail box, a place where, once the mail was opened, I found myself to be quite at home. I have attached a picture of me having tea on the lanai on which I saw the great mountain, Diamond Head, made from the lava from a volcano under the ocean, inside the earth’s core. The Hawaiian Islands were all made from volcanic magma, which when cooled, turns into volcanic rock. The “dirt” there is an interesting orange color, caused by the iron oxide in the land. You will learn all about our amazing world by staying in school to learn more about it, and then someday traveling to different places, like I did for this school project. I guess being squashed by a bulletin board has its rewards, as I have traveled far and this destination vacation was a very good choice, or just plain luck on my part.

Unfortunately, I arrived in the middle of my hostess doing her yearly taxes, but since I like school and am pretty good at math, I decided to help Ms. Janet file her taxes, so that maybe we could go sightseeing this weekend. I will take pictures and maybe I can find a tourist that will take a picture of me and my assignment person.

I will be going to work tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, with Ms. Janet, to assist her with her nursing duties working with the homeless and other sick people who need help at The Salvation Army, where she is the head nurse in the facility’s addiction and rehabilitation program. Being assigned to a nurse was comforting, as I needed medical attention after the bulletin board fell on me and changed my life forever, and how I came to be called “Flat” Stanley. It was how I was so easily mailed to many others all over the States and other countries for this educational assignment to teach students about the world outside of your classroom!

What I learned working with Nurse Janet is that if you need help, tell somebody you know, love, and trust about it, and someone will help you. Nurse Janet taught me that if I take care of myself and make good decisions about my life, I can be anything I want to be and live a long, healthy life. That means getting enough sleep, and never putting anything in my body that isn’t good for me. I learned a lot about good healthy living. I also learned to listen to adults who knew so much more than I did. Learning is how we become smarter and how we grow up to be the best person we can be.

What I also learned in my travels so far is that although everyone is different, there are many cultures that we need to learn about, so that we can be respectful in any place we wish to visit. What I learned so far is that some of the older generations (the grandparents and the great-grandparents) of the Japanese culture, do not make eye contact, a sign of respect, so I have to really make sure that I don’t drop to the ground (as flat as I am) and make eye contact by mistake, or worse yet, have someone accidentally step on me, because I have been doing a lot of walking. The islands are full of magic and mystery, and one of the things I learned is that you take your shoes off before entering anyone’s home, another sign of respect, so where there are a lot of shoes out by the front door, you can be sure that there are that many people inside. Hawaiians are known for their culture of close family, and a place where it is common for generations living in the same house. That means you have relatives that you do not have to leave your house to visit because they live right there with you in your home.

Shoes found at every doorstep can indicate how many people live inside. The most common shoes worn here are what we call flip-flops, but what Hawaiians call “slippers.” If they are small slippers they might belong to a small child, while others might belong to a parent(s), Uncle, Auntie, or TuTu (the word for a grandparent). Kupuna is the word for the generation older than me. Oh, they don’t wear shoes much here, except maybe to work. You almost never see any business person in suits and ties, or office attire to the ladies. Those reporting to work do so in brightly colored Hawaiian shirts or dresses because of the weather and the customs here. Most other times, the locals, called “kamaainas” (pronounced kah mah I nah) spend their time wearing summer or beach clothes because it is always like summer here and the ocean is everywhere. The food is delicious here and includes a lot of fresh fruit, fish, and rice, as well as other traditional island cuisine. Coconuts and pineapples are plentiful here, and yes, there are plenty of treats like malasadas (fried donuts) that you can get with many different tasty fillings. Yes, they have candy here too. They also have “shave ice,” which is like the snow cones I love in the states, but with many different fruit flavors, like mango, kiwi, papaya, and so many others.

It been fun and relaxing to be in a place where wearing shorts and flip-flops are accepted casual attire, and you can go into stores and most restaurants dressed just like that. There are so many places to go and so many different things to see here. What I learned in staying at Ms. Janet’s condo, was that the homes here do not generally include lots of storage space, and most islanders live with much less than mainlanders are used to. You have to simplify and chose the important things you keep inside because most of your time is spent outdoors. Ms. Janet says that nobody lives in paradise to stay inside too much. The fresh air and blue ocean waters make playtime something you want to last until the sun goes down, and even then, there are many wonderful things to see and enjoy right where you are staying. There are fireworks every Friday night, where men dressed in traditional Hawaiian attire light tikki torches at the beach, and on Saturday nights, you could watch movies on a big screen set up on the sand. I even got to see real hula dancers!

Sadly, my journey is coming to an end, but because there are trade winds (a strong ocean breeze) here, I went places with Ms. Janet that she had to hold onto me while taking pictures, or else I’d have blown away, so I tried getting in photos, but I’ll just show them to you at school while the teacher reads my journey assignment paper to the class. I almost forgot, Hawaii has some of the prettiest rainbows in the world, and they just pop up everywhere, it seems. If you ever wonder what is at the end of the rainbow, I found out it is no pot of gold. The radiant colors of the rainbow simply disappear right into the ground, such an amazing sight to see. I hope that you enjoy seeing on paper what I got to see in person. Even if I am “Flat Stanley” now, I know now that there is nothing I can’t do if I put my mind to it. The memories made here will last me a lifetime.

So enjoy the photographs, and be sure the thank Sarah Vincenti for sending me on the biggest learning experience ever. As they say here, a hui hou (pronounced like: ah who e hoe), which is Hawaiian for “until we meet again.” It is said among both friends and strangers.

I hope you all enjoyed your homework assignments as much as I did.

Signing off…

Flat “Porkchop” Stanley

P.S. A big mahalo (pronounced mah hah low), to Janet Vincenti, RN, Flat Stanley’s Hostess, who said had I stayed longer, I’d have actually come home with a better tan. But remember kids, this isn’t the same sun it used to be. You have to limit your time during most of the year, and cover up and find shade when you feel the sun becoming too hot on your skin, because you’ll need that skin to carry you through all the wonderful journeys that await you in life. It is your body’s first line of defense. Treat it well. I learned that while both visiting the island, and staying with a Registered Nurse. Respect the Universe, which includes the sun, the water, the mountains, all people and animals, and everything else that we learn to care for and be mindful of.

This is what Ms. Janet wanted to the class to know:

The best of luck and wonder goes out to all the children in Mrs. Ohlde’s class! What a wonderful lesson taught with Flat as the reporter, covering stories of different kinds in different places. It teaches you that no matter what happens to you in life (in this case, my guest was flattened causing him to look different than other kids), you can still do so many things on your dream list of things you want to do when you get older. May all your dreams become a reality, and that you always remember where you came from and who taught you well; it is important. If you don’t have a dream list, make one, and keep it somewhere safe, so that when you do grow up, you can see how you have changed with time, or how time has somehow changed you, or maybe time won’t have changed your dreams at all; perhaps they remain the same, who knows? That is the excitement about life… it is unpredictable yes, but it gives us clues if you pay attention and get educated, you can be better prepared to live a long and happy life. Many blessings to you all… and aloha!

–Janet Vincenti

IDENTIFICATION OF THE PHOTOGRAPHS

1) Flat on his first day of his vacation week on the lanai with Diamond Head Mt. behind the awnings, just a glance away.

2) Flat helping with his hostess’ 2009 income tax filing.

3) Flat having his blood pressure checked at The Salvation Army on his “go to work day” to get a better idea of how The Salvation Army helped those in need.

4) Traditional hula dancer.

5) The view atop the 800ft climb on Diamond Head Mt. Waikiki and Honolulu are the two cities that seem to merge into one when you are looking at them from high above the volcanic rock mountain.

6) Rainbows are plentiful in Hawaii.

7) Blue ocean water swimmers

8) Flat Stanley's last night on Oahu