Family Service Learning Program

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Based on the success of the 2017 Service Learning program for college students, the Greek America Foundation is launching a Family Service Learning program for high school students and their parents/guardians in 2018 in Lesvos, Greece.

The program is organized with our local partners Iliaktida, a social welfare organization that provides accommodation, protection, and services to vulnerable populations in Lesvos, Northern Greece, and Athens. Iliaktida helps children get out of the refugee camps and into shelters where they can receive medical, legal, and educational support.

Our program will offer participants the opportunity to engage meaningfully with refugee children and families under the aegis of the Iliaktida support system.

Specifically, the Greek America Foundation volunteers will volunteer at two Iliaktida facilities:

The Gekko School for Unaccompanied Minors which provides language, arts, athletics, and IT instruction. Volunteers will assist the teachers and support staff with learning modules and daily activities. (Read more about this school here)

Watch a video from Euronews about the Gecko School here.

The new Blue Dot Children and Family Support Hub located close to the Moria refugee camp. Blue Dot hubs are an initiative of the UN High Commission on Refugees and the European Commission which aim to provide recreation, social and medical support and advice for mothers with babies and small children or unaccompanied refugee children. (Read more about Blue Dot here.)

Our Mission:

Our program mission is to promote volunteerism, self-growth, and cross-cultural understanding among Greek-American high school students and their parents/guardians while supporting vulnerable children in Greece. Our specific goals are to:

  • Offer Greek-American high school students an opportunity to serve those in need in Greece.
  • Help students and parents understand the complex global phenomenon of the refugee crisis through personal interaction.
  • Provide a meaningful and rewarding experience for volunteers and the people they serve.

Note: High school students must participate in the program accompanied by a parent or a legal guardian assigned by a parent. Anyone over 18 years or older does not need supervision.

All volunteers will work at the Gekkos School or Blue Dot hub; we are not able to arrange a custom volunteer experience for parents. The reason for including parents together with students is to foster a sense of family bonding through service and cross-cultural interactions. The parents will not be asked to be group leaders or chaperones, as there will be staff on site both from the Greek America Foundation and Iliaktida.

Program Details:

Dates: Arrival in Lesvos July 1. Program begins on Monday, July 2 and concludes on Sunday, July 22.

Program Cost for Volunteers: $3,500 per person not including airfare and personal incidentals

What’s included:

  • Lodging at the Hotel Heliotrope, a four star seaside hotel near the Mytilene city center. The hotel has a pool and wireless internet.
  • Daily breakfast at the hotel.
  • Weekday lunch and dinner. Dinner will be at the hotel while a bagged lunch will be provided for takeaway.
  • Weekend excursions on the island of Lesvos.
  • Daily transportation from the hotel to volunteer sites and activities.
  • On-site program staff from both the Greek America Foundation and Iliaktida. Program staff will provide oversight and support to participants.
  • Emergency Travel Insurance

What’s Not Included:

  • Airfare to Greece or Lesvos
  • Weekend lunch or dinner
  • Funds for personal incidentals such as gifts or charitable donations

Program Overview:

Our program will begin with an orientation that will cover the refugee crisis in Europe and in Greece and Lesvos specifically. Participants will be introduced to the political, social, and psychological factors involved. Our staff will review best practices and guidelines for volunteers.

During the weekdays, our group will volunteer with children at the Gekkos school or with parents and/or children at the Blue Dot facility. The Greek America Foundation will establish a program of teaching modules and activities in advance in consultation with the Iliaktida staff, teachers, and social workers. Some of the activities will depend on the interests and skills of the volunteers and we will arrange this with input from the volunteer group.

A typical weekday:

9:30 to 10:00am: Transportation to the day’s volunteer site

10:00am to 3:00 or 4:00pm: Volunteer activities with a lunch break

4:00pm: Return to the Hotel

Evening free-- Group meetings and activities may be scheduled

During the weekends, the group will visit points of interest on the island, such as museums, archaeological sites, or villages. We will also visit the village of Vrisa, where Iliaktida and the Greek America Foundation are currently supporting families who were displaced by the devastating earthquake of June 2017.

The program will close with a goodbye party and a day of wrap-up conversations to help participants reflect on and process their experiences prior to returning home.

Note for non-volunteering parents/guardians: 

Parents/guardians who wish to accompany their children as a legal guardian but not participate in the volunteer program may do so.

The hotel accommodations will have high speed internet connection so that parents can telework while their children are participating in the volunteer program.

The price per parent/guardian not participating in the volunteer program is $2,000 which covers hotel accommodations, most meals, travel insurance, an orientation and closing party, and weekend excursions on the island of Lesvos.

Parents/guardians who do not pay the full program fee may not participate in the weekday volunteering program with their children.

Apply today!

To apply, please click below to complete the following information. Families who wish to volunteer together must have each member complete the application.

The deadline for completed applications is April 25, 2018.

Please fill out all information, including the two short essays requesting additional information about yourself and why you would like to volunteer in Greece with refugee children.

Applicants will be contacted within one week of submitting their applications for next steps. 

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