Peggy and Bud Cope volunteered in Greece with their three children, Ellie, Adam, and Evan, after having a year that could’ve torn them apart, both physically and emotionally. Peggy had the feeling that the only hope her family had to heal and come together was if they did something meaningful together. So Peggy and her family went on a service program to Greece and worked side by side in a community teaching elementary school children conversational English. Here, Peggy tells us the story of how her family found hope for the future working in a little community on the Island of Crete in Greece.
By Peggy Cope
Taking us out of ourselves and into something else.
There weren’t a lot of opportunities to volunteer with young kids and I’d always had my eye on Global Volunteers and the work that they did. So I thought, I’ve always wanted to go to Greece, and the kids have always wanted to go to Greece, so Cope Family, let’s do this! It’ll take us out of ourselves and into something else. The first few days were tricky, but it was kind of about us healing and growing selfishly. We decided it would be best for us as a family to split up for our teaching projects. My husband and the boys taught the 3rd and 4th-grade children, I along with two fellow team members taught the 2nd graders, and my daughter incorporated her passion for music in her lessons floating from classroom to classroom allowing kids of all ages to enjoy her songs and dances.
“Walking into the class for the first time, we all thought, this is going to be difficult, but then we realized that they weren’t there to be perfect students and didn’t expect us to be perfect teachers. All the fears and doubts went away and we had SO much fun as a class!”– Adam Cope
We saw hope for the future.
What was so cool and amazing was that we healed and finally saw hope for the future as both individuals and as a family through giving our love, our time, and our energy to others. For example, up until the last day, my oldest son wasn’t sure if he was going to go to college, then something incredible happened. On the last day of school, the kids were waiting for him outside the front gates, screaming his name, chanting, “Adam! Adam! Adam!” He went into the classroom and they all ran in after him, swarming around him. Then they started autographing and writing thank you wishes all over his clothes. It was so beautiful and it gave him so much confidence, faith, optimism, and respect for himself again. He’d somehow lost it along the way.
“We thought the fun would never stop until it did. It was time to say goodbye. It was sad seeing them leave. Some of the students in our class even started to cry. I will never forget having so much fun with those amazing kids!”– Adam Cope
We walked away feeling inspired, confident, and fulfilled as a family.
After the program ended, we vacationed for a week in mainland Greece and all we did was talk about our kids in Greece. We just shared stories. We had taught in different classrooms and we all had these different experiences, but there was a common thread. Some of the stories we shared were hilarious because of everything we got to learn about these people, all these families, all these kids, our teammates. I don’t think we could have had a vacation where we shared work, sweat, and tears throughout it all. We wouldn’t have walked away feeling so inspired, confident, and fulfilled as a family.
“It’s all happening so fast and I am sad that this is our second-to-last day. The usual excitement from the unknown we have been feeling in the mornings has turned into anticipation of seeing the faces of our new found friends and jumping into teaching, learning, and, above all, having fun! “– Bud Cope
Love, laughter, and friendships really do change us all.
As we came home and launched back into our lives, there was so much healing and hope for the future. Before then, the future had seemed kind of dim. We were all so vulnerable and really raw and beaten up from the past couple of years. Those years included some real-life problems. And the take away was we can’t wait to go back to Greece and that’s what we need to do from now on. There is just so much confidence and sense of achievement in our family dynamic now. I hope there’ll be more healing and growing together as a family unit like we once were when the kids were younger. Now they’re all grown up, all going in different directions. We know from the reality that love, laughter, and friendships do really change all of us. That’s what giving does. It just lights up that light within us. I see it all the time with my kids — that something so selfless can actually be so rewarding coming back to you. I know for sure, it’s the best thing we’ve ever done as a family and I don’t think we would’ve walked away feeling so fulfilled if we’d been just been lying on some beach or in some resort somewhere!