Recently I returned from my second stint with Global Volunteers in Crete. I spent two weeks there working with young students on improving their conversational English.
Doing a short-term volunteer program in a country that has so many struggles — the refugee crisis, unemployment, reduced pensions, on and on — might make one wonder whether it is possible to make a difference in such a short period.
Global Volunteers team in Crete enjoying a Frappe while planning for time with students
I decided to ask for some feedback to guide others who are considering a volunteer vacation. Matina Papoutsidakis, is the owner and teacher of Morfosi English School in Gazi, Crete. I had the pleasure of working with Matina for the second time this October at her evening English program.
Matina’s heartfelt response confirmed my own experience in Crete.
” Lynn, we have had volunteers from Global Volunteers coming to our school for a few years now. My students get so excited every time they come that they can hardly contain themselves. I asked them to tell me why they like having them visit our school so much and they told me that the main reason was because they got to speak with native speakers. But it’s so much more than that. They get to meet and interact with real people who come from much different cultural backgrounds and upbringing. For most of the students it is the first time they get to speak and spend time with foreigners. They get to look through “a window” and find out about places far from their hometown or village. These kids get to see first hand (and not from the TV or the internet) that there is a whole different world beyond Crete. Having the Global Volunteers with us gives them the chance to broaden their horizons and realize that there are so many things out there waiting to be discovered. That’s why it’s such a special experience for us and we await their arrival every year. Kisses my friend!!!!”
English proficiency is a requirement to enter university in Greece. Also, to work in the hospitality industry, speaking English is necessary. But beyond the teaching of English and equally as important is the opportunity to encourage and motivate a young person as to the opportunities that are available in the future.
I look forward to returning!
Global Volunteers www.globalvolunteers.org