Volunteer Interview: Claire in Samos

We interviewed Claire who is volunteering as a teacher on Samos a Greek island hot spot for refugees and migrants.

 

“ It is the most rewarding thing I have even done for sure. I don’t know how any other job can live up to this! You are just constantly with the kids and you are getting so much from them.”

Claire is from London and she is volunteering with Still I Rise in the “Mazi” education center for 4 months (Mid Jan – May 2019). She is a history graduate from Warwick university in the UK and has spent some of her summer months working  with young people and children in the National Citizen Service. When she goes back to London she will start Teach First – a teacher training program.

What is the best things about your volunteering experience:

Feeling useful and feeling that what I’m actually doing is making a difference. Being a support network for young people that otherwise do not the support they need.
I had never done TEFL but I am learning so much! Still I Rise have a curriculum however it is also open for me to be quite creative. The work sheets I used today in class I made myself, the work can really be based on the students. If X needs more of this or X needs more of that I can be adaptable.

So your role is quite adaptable?

Yes so adaptable, there are so many resources here.I do not think I will ever work in an organisation like this. I am also teaching Art and wanted to do Lino Printing with the students. We have an Amazon wish list that we put stuff on and we have private donors who want to buy specific resources for children activities. Its is a very efficient small organisation and quite unique.

What is your biggest challenge?

Last night we were at the port at 2am saying bye to some kids who were being transferred. It is hard saying good bye. You make these connections and so its hard not knowing what their future is going to be like. They are often not told where they are going to next, where they are being transferred to, Athens, Thessaloniki. And so you feel like you just want them to stay so you can protect them.

Do you get any psychological support?

Yes. If feel very supported by the team here. We are all going through similar stuff and some are more experienced. As we are a close and small team we are able to support eachother.


What would be the one piece of advice you would give to a volunteer coming to Samos?

Research the conditions, don’t turn up without much knowledge of the refugee crisis. You hear so many shocking things when you are here, you don’t want to be shocked by the simple things that you could have processed while you were at home, before you arrive.

Contact people like you guys! (Indigo Volunteers) make sure you are in the right organisation. My friend Emma from Samos Volunteers told me about Still I Rise so if it wasn’t for her, my teaching skills wouldn’t have been utilised in the right way.

Do you feel like this experience will help your future career as a teacher?

Yes it has definitely challenged me as a teacher. This was a great way to get some experience in the classroom before starting my course. I definitely won’t be waltzing in to the course in June like” this is easy!” but at least I won’t have the emotional side of it, I will just be so happy they they are getting full rounded education. Sometimes I finish the class here and think “wow yes that was a great class” and then I realise the things I was learning at 16 were poetry, history and geography. Here I am teaching children the basics. There are some children at 16 that do not know how to read and write in their own language let alone English.

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