W W W . G L O B A L V O L U N T E E R S . O R G
Global Volunteers’ service programs adhere to our over-arching Philosophy ofService in every community. Specifically, local people are always in charge ofwork projects, and volunteers contribute to community-driven initiativesalongside local people. At all times, we observe our policy stating “Safety TrumpsEverything.” Orientation sessions are conducted on the first day in-country, andmorning and evening meetings give volunteers time to organize and reviewactivities. The team journal, shared at morning meetings, is a mainstay of every GlobalVolunteers program. A daily collaborative report by one or two team members,it reflects on the day’s work and experiences. In many partner communities,volunteers contribute to several projects in different locations during the day.Through the team journal, volunteers hear about the projects and experiencesof their teammates. 2This journal digest, complete with photos, is a collection of journal excerpts fromvolunteers serving in Crete, Greece. On our service programs in Greece,volunteers help lively students practice their English. During the summermonths, Global Volunteers join two-week English language school – bridgingsummer break and the school year with skits, games, songs, field trips, andimaginative activities in English. During the school year, volunteers work inclassrooms with elementary and middle school students in afternoon schoolshelping them on their preparations for their English examination. The first weekof this journal (pages 3 - 15) includes entries from summer camps and thesecond week (pages 18 - 33) includes entries from the school year. Check outour website for available service program dates.While such journaling requireseffort, most volunteers reportthey love the variety ofrecollections and stories. Thejournal becomes an enjoyableway to communicate shared andindividual memories, andbecomes a unique keepsake foreach volunteer team. Volunteerstell us that many years later, theteam journal allows them toreminisce and cherish their timespent with local people andteammates. ebsite for availableservice program dates.
There are ten of us on the team, some with Global Volunteers experience, manywithout. We introduced ourselves and shared our stories of how and why weended up here today. It is always interesting for me to hear, as a veteran GlobalVolunteer, the many winding paths we’ve taken to arrive at this moment. One of my favorite things about these experiences is that so many like-mindedpeople find each other all over the world. That became evident again today, aswe each shared goals for ourselves and the team as we spent the next one ortwo weeks together. Several people had the very same wording, most people had versions of whatothers had said. In addition to team members’ personal goals, three overallteam goal themes stood out: to teach and learn, to have an impact on thechildren, to enjoy the Greek culture, to be of service, to have fun!We also came up with our list of Characteristics of an Effective Team: Flexibility,Punctuality, Supportive, Respectful, Positive, Collaboration, Leverage, Tolerant,Humor, Patience, Mutual Goals, Sharing, Love, Compassion, and Caring.We had a Greek language lesson and talked about some information about thework projects. We signed up for the team journal and the message of the dayand then divided into four teaching teams. We had lunch and discussedexpectations for service and working together as a team, as well. With Sam’sleadership and help, we are acclimatizing ourselves for the up-and-comingteaching assignments, starting tomorrow.MARY4S U N D A Y
We made it an early evening so we will be fresh and ready to go. The following ismy message of the day. It has become my mantra whenever I begin a newvolunteer adventure and has helped me accept and cherish whateveropportunities I encounter: “Do what you can, with what you have, where youare.” ~ Theodore RooseveltSUNDAY5We proceeded to break off into our respected groups and spent the rest of theafternoon/early evening planning for our first day at school. After lessonplanning for the kids, some swam, read, jogged, or slept before dinner. At 7:30 p.m. we met for a social hour and a special BBQ prepared by Paul. We areall a little tired from travel; enthusiastic about sharing ourselves, our skills, andour culture with the people of Heraklion and Gazi; and anxious for ouranticipation to become reality.
T h e b e s t w a y t o f i n d y o u r s e l f i s t ol o s e y o u r s e l f i n t h e s e r v i c e o fo t h e r s .~ Mahatma Gandhi
With today being the first day of camp, a mix of nervousness and excitementflooded us. The team was up and ready for breakfast by 7:30. We started our day with a solid breakfast and arrived at school as ready as wecould be for this adventure. By 8:15, the team was ready to walk to the schooland eager to meet their students. We arrived at school a little before 8:30 and theteam broke up into their groups for teaching. When the students arrived, theyhad a few minutes to play outside before heading into class. We started off byintroducing ourselves and had the students make name tags. The childrenseemed just as excited yet nervous as we did when they saw us. There were lotsof conversation between the children, I am sure they were discussing howdifferent we looked. They were inviting and interested in everything about us.A word search and a game of bingo allowed us to get a feel for where thechildren were in their English studies. We checked in with Stephanie who waswith the first and second graders.7MARKM O N D A YWhat a great team of Global Volunteers we have! We vary in age from 16 to 80and offer a variety of experiences and ideas. Many of us come from rural areas,many from the mid-west and one born and raised in Costa Rica, now living inthe U.S. One no longer has a permanent home but travels among her offspring.Although we come from diverse backgrounds and occupations, we work welltogether. I’m proud to be a member of this great team!
Throughout the day, we covered different topics like family, animals, and ages.The kids were happy and playful. Hugs and handholding assured us that thechildren were taking to us as we’d hoped. It was the several games of foursquare that brought us all together. As we took turns winning, we exchangedgenuine laughs and fun. Neither of us had played this game since childhood.Today we learned that even language barriers can be broken when a littlelaughter and fun are involved.After school, everybody headed back to the hotel for lunch at 1:30. Some peoplewent out to the markets and other stores and some stayed inside to enjoy theair conditioning after a hot morning. Later, in the afternoon my group gatheredtogether and planned lessons that would expand the students’ vocabulary andalso keep it fun so they enjoy their time with us. At 7:30 the team joined togetherfor dinner and our evening meeting. Everybody took turns discussing how theirday went. Overall, everyone had a good experience with the children.MONDAY8
9HELENT U E S D A YAfter enjoying a delicious bowl of Greek yogurt with honey, Raleigh read hisjournal entry for the day before. Then we put on our hats, grabbed our bags,and headed out for a second day of English school.Today we reviewed grammar in the first period. We particularly concentrated onadjectives. We tried to think of new adjectives that the students did not know.The students completed a work sheet that asked them to fill in descriptivewords in a work sheet and write about their pets. We then reviewed theworksheet. In the second lesson we asked them to complete a “personality test.”They had to describe their favorite song, book, place, and superhero. We thenwent round the class reviewing their answers and the new adjective words we’dlearned. For the third period we learned how to draw a self-portrait. We did it instages. We learned the words for parts of the face. The students really enjoyedthis activity.Those that finished before the end of the period were given word searches ordot-to-dot worksheets, which they always like doing. The weather was not sohot today so the children played outside for fourth period. They love foursquare or making bracelets in the shade of the trees. Today the first and secondgrade played kick ball, made key chains, and learned new words about schoolsupplies. The third and fourth graders learned about food. They made collagesof and named their favorite foods. In their free time, they played with bubbleskindly provided by a team member.After a delicious homemade lunch - as usual - the team spent the afternoon andsome of the early evening lesson planning and then napping, reading, or goingto the beach as the mood took them. It was another great day. This is such agreat program. I really think the students attending this program will have a realadvantage when they learn English in their regular schools.
T r a v e l i s f a t a l t o p r e j u d i c e ,b i g o t r y , a n d n a r r o w - m i n d e d n e s s ,a n d m a n y o f o u r p e o p l e n e e d i ts o r e l y o n t h e s e a c c o u n t s . B r o a d ,w h o l e s o m e , c h a r i t a b l e v i e w s o fm e n a n d t h i n g s c a n n o t b e a c q u i r e db y v e g e t a t i n g i n o n e l i t t l e c o r n e ro f t h e e a r t h a l l o n e ’ s l i f e t i m e .~ Mark Twain
Prior to our arrival on this trip, I had read that people return year after year. Iwondered why this program was so infectious. After only two days in theclassroom, I am seeing why that is: our first-grade class is a warm and engagedgroup. They are quite eager to learn, and are more advanced than we hadanticipated.Thus far into the week, I am working on achieving two of my goals: 1) To bond through a service project with my daughter, Nicole, and her dearfriend, Helen. 2) To learn more about how the students learn, so that we in turn, can be moreeffective. We have come to see that the students want to be actively involved in activities,and there is a healthy amount of competition in that classroom!11EMILYW E D N E S D A YThe fun continues. The children continue to be little learning sponges -- they arequick to take in lots of information and seem to enjoy all the activities we haveintroduced to them. We see them initially struggle with Word Search only tohave them a day later ask for more and even more difficult ones. They like thesongs we sing and love to sing them, the faster the better. We see bigimprovements on their ball handling skills and their understanding the conceptof team play. When I reflect on what Fatima and I asked them to do each day, itis remarkable the trust they extend to us that we are really trying to have themlearn things while having fun. This is the reason why I like to volunteer at thisschool program.
They love to learn and many ask to be more and more challenged. In fact, someof the girls are eager to teach and have started teaching and also quizzing usteachers on Greek words during the 15-minute breaks.Once the school day was over, we returned to the hotel to have lunch and do ourlesson planning for the next day. Afterwards, we relaxed by the pool while otherswent on an olive oil tour. Later, we had pasta and Greek meatballs for dinnerand finished the day with an evening meeting and a nice walk through town.Wednesday is often called “hump day” -- the middle of the work or school week --when thoughts shift from the first part of the week to the weekend. For me, it isthe realization that my time here is coming to an end and it makes me feel sad.But I know I return home for the better -- knowing my colors, numbers, shapes,and ABCs like never before, and knowing that I was part of making a differencein a child’s life. Priceless.WEDNESDAY12
At school we reviewed and taught the kids some body parts. As I sat sorting thenumerous stacks of paper into their perspective groups, I felt a small finger tapmy arm. Looking up, I see Stavros smiling his toothy grin at me. Sayingsomething in Greek he pointed at the word galaxy on his word search. The lasttwo periods consisted of me helping him finish his word search by asking himquestions like “where is the A?” or “what letter does this word start with?”, andplaying Tick Tack Toe only to lose. I quickly realized how extremely intelligentthese children are. Not only did Stavros understand what I was asking of himwhile doing the word search (without a translator), but he also was able to findcomplex English words quickly after I explained how a word search worked. Tothink he’s only like six.We used the Emoji balloons (thank you, Mary) as a great tool to get the childrento understand different emotions. Most of the children pick HAPPY as how theyfeel with SILLY gaining traction. The SAD emoji doesn’t have any takers. It givesme great enjoyment to see the effect we are having on our students. We camehere to make a difference, to have some impact, to make an impression on thestudents and the community we are serving. From my view at the team table, Ithink we are doing just that.The results are in! As a team we had another good day. Our young students aregetting comfortable with us. At the start of each day, the children, in unison,shout out all the things they have learned. You can see their pride in knowingthat are learning. They love the fly swatter game and singing with Fatima. TheABCs and Itsy Bitsy Spider are favorites and you can hear them singing the songsto themselves when doing a coloring activity. We are now focusing on teamactivities and learning about winning and losing. Getting a sticker providestremendous motivation and satisfaction for their achievements.13JIMT H U R S D A Y
We’ve created incredible bonds with the adult staff at Handakas Hotel. Fromwatching women’s soccer and eating popcorn with Paul to having genuinelaughs with Katerina and the rest of the team, the staff at the hotel have beencaring, giving, and welcoming. We’ve developed irreplaceable relationships with bright and eager children. I willforever miss Katerina’s hugs, Stavros’ cheeky smile, Argiro’s excitement, Manos’attentive eyes, and many other kids that made my time here on Crete somemorable.We’ve managed to share a small part of our culture and language to studentsthat, astonishingly, soak it up with quickness and ease. I can safely say I havenever been around kids that are as intelligent and willing to learn. It’s been awonderful experience teaching English to the students. Very fulfilling! Sam hasguided us competently and in a very friendly, easygoing manner. It wasespecially gratifying for me to be in a classroom again, to watch the studentstrying to understand a different language, expressing themselves with wholesentences, and becoming familiar with new routines.14CAROLEF R I D A YToday I woke up with a weird feeling. It was Friday... It seemed odd to me thatthis was my last day. We didn’t think we would connect with the children as wellas we did considering that they are very young and understood minimal English;however, we wish for more time now. But what have we done here in Crete? I’lltell you.
We’ve grown as individuals. If not a lot, then a little. But every one of us has hadan experience that is going to shape the rest of our lives. This experience onCrete has given us an outlet to improve our diverse thinking. We’ve learned todeal with many different people in a productive and positive way.One of our favorite aspects was the unique relationships we formed with ourstudents despite their age, it was gratifying to receive a hug or a high five or evensee them smile ear to ear when they grasped a new concept. As we furtherreflect on the special connections we have made not only with our students butalso our team, it is now clear that Global Volunteers truly brought to light theimportance of human connections across boundaries and outside of ourcomfort zones. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to touch the lives ofsome students at an impressionable age.FRIDAY15Yet now we must say goodbye to these children and imagine all the things theywill accomplish and hope that just maybe our contribution made a difference. So,it’s with much sadness I leave Crete, new friends, new experiences, and newmemories. But I also leave with a sense of having done something good forothers, having learned new ideas and places, and having completed anothervolunteer program. Thank you to my fellow team members, Sam, the staff at theHandakas Hotel, and especially the students I taught.
We began around noonish out near the pool And learned each other’s names, just like in schoolWe went from the first to the last— Here’s the list and I’ll read it quite fast Mary Lou, Chris, Carl, Kiki, Sonya, Wendy, Carolyn, Don, Lisa, Tom Jim, Kathy,Leslie, Susan, and Linda That was in order, I hopeAnd of course, Sam—without her we’d never copeGlobal Volunteers has great projects, it’s true Twelve of these folks have done more than a few From China to the Cook Islands, Italy, Peru, Vietnam, and the U.S.AAnd from Cuba, to St. Lucia, Tanzania, Mexico, and now Greece, hurray!We welcomed each other and shared some of our livesIt was easy to see that giving is part of what drivesUs to be here learning togetherWell that, and the fabulous Greek weather19CAROLYNS U N D A YA team of 15 came together as Saturday waned to an endPlanes, ferries, taxis, and drivers delivered us so we could spend A week or two in Crete teaching and learning Mostly retired, there’s no money we’ll be earningPeople were greeted warmly by Sofie and Paul and we were all fed Then weary from travel, folks ambled off to bedA flexible Sunday breakfast gave us recovery time There were some comments about the yogurt being sublime
About sharing of our lives, I must digress to you with some amount of stress People were honest, vulnerable, peeled back layers to reveal Who they really are—what’s awesome and what needs to healAround those flags emerged a team With pasts and futures and gifts that gleamSUNDAY20We had a Greek lesson and learned to say hello Yiasas and kalimera and off we will goWe had a great lunch and re-grouped to ID the goals for us allWe learned that forty-five cards barely fit on that wallBut Sam arranged them and clarified and kept us on taskWe ended with six goals—not too much to askFrom Peaceful Cross-Cultural Relations to Serving and a little bit of Fun Teaching,Cultural Immersion and Personal Growth and we’re doneFlexibility is a requirement for all volunteers, it seems And Sam helped us understand just what that means Assignments will come; we’ll all get to work Just being in this charming beachtown is really a perkIf we wander off, get lost and can’t find our way back Sam will call out “Where are my Americans?” to get us on trackSteak and frites for dinner with a plateful of greens We’ll certainly eat well here, it seems This is the Greece September journal for day oneYou don’t have to rhyme yours—just be sure you have FUN!
When I got out of bed and made my way down to breakfast and the morningmeeting, we talked about our schedules for the day and what everyone wasplanning to do in their free time. Linda stated that she, Bob, and Judy were goingto visit Knossos and anyone was able to join them. This sparked my interest sinceI had learned so much about the Minoans in my history classes. I asked if I couldtag along and she agreed. A half an hour later, Linda, Bob, Judy, Allegra, and Iwere on our way to Knossos. I was astounded by the beauty and history of theplace around me. Walking around, I was able to piece together pieces of historythat I had learned in class with the sights that were right in front of me. The moreI walked and the more pictures I took led to my only thought of home being theanticipation to show my friends and family the sights I got to witness firsthand.After our cultural morning and a good lunch, we went to our projects for the firsttime. When we arrived, students were already there and halfway into theirlesson. Tenia, the teacher, has one-hour classes beginning at 3 p.m. until 10 p.m.Her first class were junior students, probably eight to ten years old. I appreciatedthe opportunity to watch Tenia and hear what she was emphasizing to thestudents before we actually worked with the students.21LUCASM O N D A YCompanionship. This is a very important thing to have when working with sucha diverse group of people. Companionship is what allows us to make light-hearted jokes in times of stress. It’s what helps us work better and hardertogether. It’s the framework of a good team. On this particular day, it was thefirst day I had really settled into this new environment, the people around me,and the expectations that were required of me.
We began our session with introductions. The students were, for the moment,wonderfully shy. They participate in after-school programs to learn English andwe practice with them through our conversations and interviews. Robin and Ihave met a class of seven, ages 11 to 17. We met a pediatric surgeon looking toemigrate due to lack of work and service cutbacks, and a delightful 15-year-oldwho loves to read Stephen King. This is a wonderful way to experience a countryand a way of life.MONDAY22I think the greatest challenge for all of us was the 14 to 18-year-old students whobegan arriving at seven. They are supposed to take the English exam in twoweeks and this exam is really important for their future. We read sample testquestions and provided prompts and follow-up questions to guide theirresponses. All of us want to work with these students individually to help themprepare and practice for the exam. It is very helpful to have a short-term goalthat coincides with our time in Greece and, hopefully, provides an impetus forthe students. We enjoyed meeting and working with the students today!When Melody and I were working with the students, I realized thatcompanionship is also very important when helping them. Without it, therewould be no trust between us and the students wouldn’t be able to talk or learnfrom us. Our relationship with the students also helps them calm their nerves.Having native English speakers there to listen to them speak and talk back tothem makes them more confident than when talking to their teachers, who theyknow can revert back to Greek at any time. It’s things like companionship thatmake our teamwork and are able to help the students here in Greece.
S o m e t i m e s , y o u w i l l n e v e r k n o wt h e v a l u e o f a m o m e n t u n t i l i tb e c o m e s a m e m o r y .~ Dr. Seuss
I started off asking two of the teenagers for the oral exam prep questions andengaged them in short conversations. Mary assisted a young woman duringsome one-on-one time, prepping her for the oral exam as well. Bobbi enjoyedasking the younger students some general beginner questions.Phil and Martha had a productive day as well. Phil joined the younger groupwith vocabulary and Martha was asked to converse with a boy whom we hadnot met before. He was quite proficient and they talked for some time. Shethen met with an older student who is preparing to take the proficiency examand a young girl who need help with speaking. Phil talked to the youngerstudents about food and sports and helped a bit with word drills. The dayended with the advanced students, who were responding to scenarios we hadread to them modeled on the proficiency syllabus.23MELODYT U E S D A YToday was our team’s first “Cultural Road Trip” to expand our knowledge ofCrete. We started the day getting to see more of Crete with our three greatstops. The scenery was beautiful with mountains, farm animals, small villages,and stunning wildflowers. We visited a museum, Monastery of Arkadi, and ElGreco’s House. Thanks, Mary, for the lesson on El Greco. We ended with a tasty“Greek Lunch”! You know I come here for the food.Linn and Bill rushed to start teaching. We did not waste one minute today. Kenand Suzanne went to a new school to get to know new students. Mary and Iwent back to Matina’s school where I taught last year. It was just like last nightat Tenia’s being with old friends. I got to see and hug three of my last year’sstudents who came to see me. Mary and myself are now putting a plantogether to get our new students through testing.
When we arrived at our school, Tenia was working with a group of youngstudents on vocabulary and a couple more advanced students at a difficult level.Most of the students we met today were not new to us. We had met them atleast once before. Many of them seem to be enrolled in the English programevery day, which must be a significant commitment. Art assisted Tenia withexercises in the present progressive tense and vocabulary development. Heasked and answered questions in English while Tenia facilitated conversationwith some translation. Linda worked two individuals, a teenage girl who is anintermediate and a woman with excellent English who will take an exam in May.She has advanced comprehension and ability to discuss concepts in English, butlacks confidence in herself.Tenia once again thanked them and came down the stairs to chat with us as weleft. She seems more relaxed with our presence and the classes today were notlarge. The students also seemed to be enjoying trying to converse in English andwere friendly. Linda enjoyed one-on-one with a 14-year-old boy and had twosmall groups with ten-year-olds and 12-year-olds. We also did questions andscenarios with the older students, which was based upon the Cambridge andMichigan proficiency examinations. This method is certainly challenging to allstudents at their individual learning levels.After classes, Sam met up with us and we enjoyed a delicious dinner together toend a good day. Coming back to Greece to serve is just like being reunited with agroup of friends. This is a win-win for me! I get to spend time with friends newand old and take away so much more than I am expected to give.TUESDAY24
26PEGGYW E D N E S D A YClass for us begins at 5 p.m. and ends at 9 p.m. The classes go from 4-6 p.m., 6-8p.m., and 8-9 p.m. The students, for the most part, come Monday-Wednesday-Friday or Tuesday-Thursday. Each class has students that are progressively moreproficient in English. The ultimate goal is for the students to pass a five-partEnglish proficiency test which includes vocabulary, writing, conversationalspeaking, and critical thinking in English. The range in proficiency in each class ispretty wide. This test is used a little like a SATAP test, but the impact is evengreater. While university is free in Greece, admission is not assured and verycompetitive.The teacher, Tenia, runs the class very hands on usually multi-tasking, some kidsworking on workbooks, some reciting vocabulary, and some writing what theyhave learned -- all based on material they should have studied at home. Sheusually ends each class with an oral or written exam. When they successfullycomplete the test, they go home. The last student may leave 30 minutes afterthe first student, but they all pass before leaving. Her teaching style might becalled a benevolent tyrant. When she’s talking to them, it often sounds likeyelling in Greek, but the students don’t seem to wilt under the heat. My sense isshe is chiding them when they demonstrate a lack of effort.
Our role is to supplement her teaching. We provide the students the opportunityto speak with a native English speaker. I think we also provide another criticalvoice. Last night in the second class, I worked with a student on an essay aboutwhy some people like taking risks like extreme sports while other people “play itsafe”. Her essay was two paragraphs but very well written for a 14-year-old. Wewent over it together and discussed the writing and then the topic itself. This is astudent I have worked with before. She, like most of the students, areimmigrants/refugees from Albania. She is very smart and charming. During thelast hour, I worked with a boy, age 15, who was not as advanced. We discussedhis home life. I asked him to describe his house physically and also describe thepeople in his home. I’ve come to see that many (most) Greek families live inmulti-generational homes. He lives with his paternal grandparents on the firstfloor. His parents and three brothers live on the second floor. His paternal aunt,her husband, and their two children live on the third floor. They only eat alltogether on special occasions like Christmas, Easter, or other important days. Aninteresting side note: when I asked him the name of his brothers, he said hisyoungest brother had no name. He will not until he is christened. They call himJohn.WEDNESDAY27As Tenia has grown more confident in our skills, we have been given moreresponsibility. For the past week, the teacher has brought us treats. I thinkmostly out of appreciation, but also to let us sample some Greek family cuisine.Today we are meeting her to sample Greek pastries she wants us to try and thehighlight will be gyros, which according to Sam (our country manager) and thehighly anticipatory students, are great. Yum to come!
I n d i v i d u a l c o m m i t m e n t t o a g r o u pe f f o r t - t h a t i s w h a t m a k e s a t e a mw o r k , a c o m p a n y w o r k , a s o c i e t yw o r k , a c i v i l i z a t i o n w o r k .~ Vince Lombardi
We are getting settled into our teaching assignments and the students are full ofenergy, curiosity, and eagerness to learn—even at the late hour of their Englishclasses. We have a librarian who is organizing volunteer supplies and books; abig job which she and those helping her make look easy. Those who follow uswill find this of value. Mary Lou and I went off to Ms. Agapi’s English Language School for anotherevening of classes. We observed and occasionally participated as Ms. Agapi tookthe first class through the exercises in the curriculum. Then we shifted to anopen forum in which we asked the children questions and they asked usquestions in return. We presented some visuals of life in Minnesota, especiallywinter life. After a short break, we moved to another classroom with Ms. Agapito work with a different group of students. Once again, we did a question-and-answer session. The students were charming and engaged well in ourconversations.The team met for breakfast at the usual 8:00 time looking out at the usual sunnyand warm day. Cathy read the journal entry for yesterday and Linda providedinspiration for the day with some thoughts on how travel helps us to be wiserpersons. It fit very well with one of our Team Goals – Personal Growth.The team is developing relationships among each other. We are exploring theisland in the morning; there are so many interesting locations to see. We meetthe nicest people in town and in villages! Our meals have been traditional Greekfoods. It is delicious.29JAYT H U R S D A Y
The sky is blue, such a startlingly clear blue. The flowers are varied and colorful.The Aegean Sea speaks to me of eternity. I seem to hear the voices of theancients as I look to the mountains, to the islands, and to the olive trees. Thisisland has such history and I think the land itself speaks of joy, sadness, andhope, if one can listen. I am grateful to be here to discover bits of Westerncivilization.Back to the Hotel Handakas where we gathered for dinner (more food than wecould handle, as usual) and reports on how everyone’s day had gone. While afew things need to be ironed out at a couple of the schools, everyone reportedhaving a good day. Jim declared it the Day of the Pastries, due to the abundanceof sweet baked goods that were offered wherever we went.My goal is to contribute in my own tiny way. Perhaps my efforts will be helpfulsomehow. I know I will leave Crete a changed person.THURSDAY30
Now close your eyes and imagine yourself alone, preferably standing on a smallstationary circle, floating in the middle of a beautiful, serene lake. A pebble isdropped in front of you and slowly exquisite concentric circles begin to emanatefrom you creating more perfectly shaped circles and continuing with moreperfect larger circles moving quietly across the water and eventually out of yoursight.Now imagine that each of these circles has people standing on them facing you.Some are smiling, some are nodding in a knowing way, some are speaking,some are laughing, some are waving, or maybe just glancing in your direction…you are being noticed…they are observing your smile, your warm welcomingvoice, your gestures, how your eyes reflect a connection to them…words aresometimes not exchanged.31CASSIDYF R I D A YFaces becoming familiar; voices and laughter becoming recognizable;partnerships forming to begin teaching, working in the garden, or organizingmaterials and books.Some of us dashing off or leisurely planning a departure from the hotel toexplore our beautiful surroundings…all exuding an “all American spirit”, aneasily recognized vibe, our presence already seemingly noticed and felt.
You are here, you are being noticed, you will be thought about, and you will beremembered as your time passes between you and them. Or maybe your eyesdid not meet, maybe no words were spoken, maybe you never knew theyobserved you in some manner, but you imprinted a subtle impression on theleast of the least of these encounters and a more profound impression onmany others.Now think about the school family you will become part of, the community ofteachers within that family, and of course, the students you will share a brieftime with during your stay. How truly profound human connections are andthe lasting power they can have…one person encountering so many others in abrief moment can leave an impression of good will, compassion, genuinecaring…this was the power of your presence…how truly wonderful it all can be!All too quickly, the end is here. We have already begun saying our goodbyes tosome of the people who have, in such a short time, become our friends. Ourmorning meeting was filled with departure plans and evaluation forms ratherthan plans for teaching, field trips, and meals.Reflecting on these past two weeks, we have indeed met our goals. We havelistened to the voices of the people of Crete, as we learned about their culturewhile helping them to find their voices in English. We have served, as requested,in three different schools, hopefully touching our students’ lives as they havetouched ours. Matina told us last night that these students look forward to ourarrival each year with great anticipation as they prepare for their English exams.“You cannot imagine”, she says, how valuable our American voices are to theseGreek students.FRIDAY32
We have had the opportunity to see many different parts of Crete, experiencethe culture and learn about the people – their history, economy, and theirpoints of view — that we have a deeperunderstanding of this special place andits people to share with others as we should our experience with them.Throughout our time here, we have built relationships not only with thestudents with whom we have worked, but with their teachers, families,neighbors, friends, hotel staff, and our team members, as well. Some of theserelationships may formally end with our time here, but the joy we have gleanedfrom them will forever remain a pleasant memory. Other relationships maygrow and blossom – one of the greatest gifts of a service opportunity such asthis.We have succeeded in finding pleasure in something or someone each daywe were here, through service, voices, relationships, and culture.FRIDAY33Today is the last day of our Global Volunteers adventure. Most are headinghome today; others are staying a few days longer; still others are continuing totour other sights in Greece. We are all sad to leave the Handakas Hotel. Most ofall, we will miss the smiling faces of the teachers and students at our variousschools. It is obvious how committed the teachers are; they clearly love the kidsand work hard to help them achieve the desired language skills. What a treat ithas been to participate in the students’ English learning experience. We arehoping that all of the students’ dreams and wishes for travel, better jobs, and ahappy life come true.
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