A new experience in Crete…… and giving back

By: Lynn Paitakes Lotkowictz, Special to the Hellenic News of America
This week through Global volunteers Crete program I’m helping package and sort clothing at the port of Heraklion.  My team, led by country manager, Sam Pinakolaki joins us each morning putting together boxes, packing, sorting and preparing the boxes for shipping to Athens.
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The clothes are for the Syrian refugees.  More than a million refugees and migrants traveled across Greece since early 2015.  Now Greece is coping with 60,000 stranded in Greece by the recent closure of European borders.   It’s impressive to see first hand, the generosity of the people here locally who have donated clothing for the refugees .
After lunch we head back to the hotel and prepare to meet with students of a private English school.  The Morfosi  school students are focused on learning English so they can pass the required proficiency exam (necessary to enter University in Greece).  Most jobs, many of which are tourism related require English as well.
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The students are a pleasure to spend time with.  They appreciate being with our team and ask many questions about the U S, iPhones and all the normal things young people are interested in.   We work with them on homework assignments and have free time for conversation.
Free time so far includes many amazing traditional Greek dishes, home cooked meals by our hosts at Hotel Handakas and enjoying the local culture of my family’s homeland.