Lidget Green Primary School students Zishaan Rauf, Omar Bin Melha, Maryam Sadiq, Usaid Shah, Ayesha Malik and Nafisah Kiran show off the “flat” versions of themselves that they shipped around the world. Marie Unruh, a Radical Journey participant who volunteered at the school, used the project to help the students learn about other countries and cultures. Download full-resolution image.

Melanie Hess
Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Marie Unruh took her class around the world—without leaving home.

Unruh, a Radical Journey participant from Peabody, Kan. (Tabor Mennonite Church in Newton, Kan.) currently serving in Bradford, England, assists teachers at Lidget Green, a primary school (pre-K-grade 6). One of Unruh’s ideas was to do a “Flat Stanley” project with her kids, a class of 8- and 9-year-olds.

Flat Stanley is a character from a series of books by Jeff Brown. In these books, Stanley is flattened by a bulletin board that hung over his bed, and as a result, Flat Stanley can be sent around the world by mail.

Unruh helped her class create flat versions of themselves and send them to five different continents. Unruh’s connections helped make it possible for the flattened students to “visit” South Africa, New Zealand, China, Germany and Florida. Unruh’s friends and acquaintances, who received the flat students, responded with information about the countries where they live. Nate Schlabach, a Radical Journey participant in China, was one of the people who received a Flat Stanley.

When the project was complete, the class presented an assembly to other students at the school.

“This brought a lot of responsibility and planning,” Unruh said, “but it was very rewarding to see what the kids were capable of. I thought it was brilliant!”

At the assembly, the students took turns sharing what they learned about each country they “visited.” They told about a safari in South Africa, performed a Maori dance called the Haka from New Zealand, and shared facts about China. They conversed in German and explained the United States’ pledge of allegiance, as well as the differences between British and American English.

Radical Journey, a Mennonite Mission Network service program, invites young adults to see what God is doing in international locations and then join in. After a week and a half of orientation in Chicago, participants travel to their service locations for 10 months. In both orientation and in their service locations, participants are asked to look for ways that God is at work, and ways that they can join in. They then spend a month back home sharing their experiences and re-integrating into their home congregations.
“I'm really so proud of all of my kids,” Unruh said. “I loved the effort they put into the Haka and their presentations. It was really neat to be able to share something like traveling and learning new cultures.”

“I am grateful and encouraged when young adults like Marie choose to actively engage in bringing people together from around the world,” said Darrell Gascho, director of Radical Journey.


Mennonite Mission Network, the mission agency of Mennonite Church USA, leads, mobilizes and equips the church to participate in holistic witness to Jesus Christ in a broken world. Media may contact Andrew Clouse at, 574-523-3024 or 866-866-2872, ext. 23024.

 Journey participant sends students on a journey of their own



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