Today may seem like just another average day, but for the Greek America Foundation’s volunteers, who are on the Greek island of Chios serving unaccompanied refugee minors — it’s more than that. While some volunteers are at a school — operated by our partner charity METAdrasi — offering basic education to the children… Others have […]
Service Learning 2017
Summer 2017 With The HOME Project in Athens
Our 2017 program in Athens, Greece marked the Greek American Foundation's inaugural Service Learning Program. The model we began in 2017 is a follows: a month-long experience volunteering with refugee children in a structured environment and in partnership with a respected Greek non-profit organization.
For our first program, we sent 10 volunteers to spent most of July supporting the mission of The HOME Project, an NGO founded in 2017 to address the needs of unaccompanied refugee and child migrants in Greece by bringing them into shelters where they receive support, protection and social integration services.
The nine Americans and one Canadian were selected from dozens of applicants we received and carefully screened, given the sensitivity of the project.
The volunteers were Darden Livesay (Connecticut), Paul Grosso (Chicago), Stefanos Lazaridis (Houston), Daniel Nikolaidis (Baltimore), Constantine Cesak (Chicago), Maria Gad (Columbus), Evgenia Mantikas (New York), Katerina Busuttil (Toronto), Zoe Zacharopoulos (Phoenix), and Vasiliki Radaios (Chicago).
Over the course of the month, volunteers participated in various projects, tending to both the physical needs of the shelters, as well as the emotional well-being of the children living inside them.
Simple activities like beach excursions, soccer matches and visits to museums turned into life-changing moments for both our volunteers and the refugee children, who were able to connect and share personal experiences, as well as their hopes and dreams.
Our volunteers also organized excursions to Delphi, Sounion and other sites outside of Athens where the children were able to leave the city center and experience more of the country they now call home.
The personal connections helped humanize the refugee crisis from front page news stories to something real and tangible that our volunteers were able to take home with them to Columbus, Houston, New York, Baltimore, Chicago — and other cities where they came from — to share with their own family and friends.
One of the highlights of the program was an invitation for the volunteers to meet the United States Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt at the Embassy and share their experiences with him.
We are grateful to the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago and Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos; Dr. Marie Bountrogianni and the Chang School at Ryerson University; Patricia Lambrecht; and our travel sponsors, Pro Travel International, for their generous support of our 2017 program.
Why Service Learning? Testimonials from Past Volunteers
Getting to know these kids on a personal level and building such close friendships with them right off the bat super easily has been an amazing experience… I’m very privileged and honored to have had this experience for sure, and I’m super grateful — beyond grateful. I don’t think ‘grateful’ can put into words how much of an honor it is to have done this.
I learned a lot from these kids. I learned that you can have nothing and still be very happy. I learned that not all is bad in this life, even coming from war-torn countries and countries with civil war you can still be happy and live a fulfilling life.
I think I learned from each individual that was here with us… just each person I’ve encountered here in Greece I’ve learned something from them — whether it’s about patience, just smiling at random strangers, kindness, just how to love people better in general.
This program was instrumental in my personal growth and transformation. The support network of the Greek America Foundation staff and my peers was essential. I will always be indebted to them.
The beginning was tough at first because we were just getting started, but once we started to get connections with these kids it was so amazing. I’ve gained lifelong connections with them. They’re not even really kids — they’re teenagers. Especially the past day where we had to leave them, it was one of the hardest things that I’ve had to do.
To see these kids go through these hardships and to see them with their head up and positive is a really nice positive reinforcement, and I’m just so happy to be involved with this program and I’m going to come back and try to help again.
I wanted to work with these kids in order to help them feel as though they do have agency, they do have a self, and most importantly they do have a voice, and their voice matters and what they say matters. [I wanted] to remind them that there is someone somewhere in the world who cares about them and cares what they have to say.
I find fulfillment in making connections with kids. I think the Service Learning program is very special. I’m Greek, my dad is from Greece and I’m very interested in understanding both native Greeks’ and refugees’ perspectives and experiences together in this crisis.
My experience with the kids has been life-changing. I’ve formed bonds with these kids through the weekend activities and seeing them every day. Frankly, I feel like these kids are my equals and friends. I will never forget this experience.
I’m really grateful for this experience and I think that it’s helped guide me closer to what I might want to do going forward in my life.
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The Greek America Foundation is thrilled to announce that a recent donation from George and Kristin Strompolos will support four scholarships for our summer 2019 Service Learning program. Two of these scholarships are earmarked specifically for young people from Colorado’s Greek American community, where George Strompolos was raised. Service Learning is an initiative of the […]
The Greek America Foundation is proud to partner with METAdrasi on the Greek island of Chios for our 2019 Summer Service Learning Program which aims to engage North American college students and young professionals in volunteer programs in Greece. Our 2019 program includes a month-long experience volunteering with vulnerable groups, including refugee children and unaccompanied […]
This summer, the Greek America Foundation sent ten North American students to spend several weeks in Athens volunteering at shelters of The Home Project, a non-profit organization founded to protect and care for unaccompanied refugee minors — children who have arrived in Greece from various conflict zones throughout the world and who are alone without […]
This summer, 10 North American students were sent by the Greek America Foundation to spend several weeks in Athens, volunteering at shelters of The Home Project, an organization founded to protect and care for unaccompanied refugee minors — children who have arrived in Greece from various conflict zones throughout the world and who are alone […]
The Greek America Foundation’s Service Learning program volunteers visited United States Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 to discuss their work with unaccompanied refugee minors as well as other contemporary issues facing Greece. The nine American and one Canadian students have now spent a week and a half volunteering at shelters […]
Service Learning is a new initiative of the Greek America Foundation aiming to engage North American university students with volunteer programs in Greece. Our program fulfills a dual purpose. First, students are immersed into contemporary Greek life, while simultaneously volunteering for important humanitarian relief programs and helping to make a lasting impact on contemporary problems […]