Serving in Greece
In the ten-minute walk to your teaching assignment through the beautiful olive groves of the island of Crete, the only sound around you is the light buzzing of the cicadas. As you approach the school, the laughter of the children grows, mixing with the repeated chants of “the A, B, Cs” in English. When you arrive at the school gate, a throng of students rushes to welcome you, chirping their “good mornings” and offering handshakes.
This is teaching conversational English in Malevizi, Greece. And this is where your adventure in service begins. Now, as the country is recovering from a crippling economic recession, elementary and secondary school teachers yearn to teach their students the language of commerce, technology, and opportunity. When they reach adulthood, young men and women must rely on their command of English to help secure their country’s place on the global stage. Helping them advance their skills in conversational English now is one of the ways you can invest in the future leaders of Crete. Specifically, you’re needed to:
- Introduce new teaching concepts to make learning English FUN.
- Using Global Volunteers’ Conversational English Language Guide, design your own lessons – your creativity is the only limit!
- Engage students in skits, music, and lively small-group discussions.
- Help sustain mutual international understanding and respect between our two cultures.
Greece is a country of varied history, dramatic landscape, and proud, high-spirited people. A land of contrasts, it is the birthplace of both democracy and chaos, of both comedy and tragedy. With its diverse and ancient roots, Greece is a land for everyone – a place to celebrate the human family and nurture our commonalities, not to dwell on our differences. Global Volunteers invites you to experience all this and share your compassion and knowledge with students on the island of Crete.
The mountainous island of Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and is known for its gorgeous beaches and wonderful hospitality. Global Volunteers has been invited to the county of Malevizi near the Aegean Sea to teach conversational English to children in a summer school and local English schools during the academic year. We also serve in the neighboring community of Heraklion in various areas related to the municipality. For instance, we are invited to serve on a part-time basis when needed at a battered women and children’s shelter, assisting with painting projects, gardening, and teaching conversational English. By participating on a service program on Crete, you will experience firsthand life in a Greek community, something that so many tourists would never have the opportunity to do.
“Embracing Greek culture in general has made me realize the benefits of honest, yet hard work. And I sense (in Greek culture) a lack of urgency about financial gains. For them it’s more about people.”
~ Sarah Walter, Global Volunteer in Crete
Community Partner & Work Projects
Municipality of Malevizi
Global Volunteers has been working in partnership with the Municipality of Malevizi (previously named Gazi) since the summer of 2005. Our main host in the community is the mayor’s office, with the key leaders being Menelaos Bokeas, the mayor of Malevizi; Chrisa Lironi, the deputy mayor; and Irene Katsifarou, a county council member. They are in charge of the second largest municipality in Crete, which has over 25,000 inhabitants. The mayor’s office and the mayor himself are renowned for their creation of new free programs offered to community members, such as art and craft workshops, traditional folk dance classes, English classes, math and science tuition, free health care, and a free minimarket for low-income families.
Malevizi County provides summer school (June – August) activities for children ages six through sixteen, including sports, arts and crafts, and theater. Volunteers are in charge of these classes and activities as well as teaching the children basic conversational English. Pairs of volunteers always work with students without the help of local teachers. Many of the younger children at these schools have had very little previous English instruction and the older children are primarily beginners. The goal is to help students with their conversational skills and pronunciation and to motivate them to learn English. During these difficult economic times in Greece, the need for help with the English language is even more important. A child has an advantage in getting into a Greek university when they have an English diploma. This is provided by private English schools; however, there are fewer and fewer families who can now afford these tuition costs. In Malevizi, you may also have the opportunity to help local children from low-income families with one-on-one tutoring in conversational English.
Global Volunteers will provide you with materials and ideas for learning activities for your students, and you will also find that much learning occurs during informal activities such as playing games during recess, making craft projects in the classrooms, and doing treasure hunts outside on the playground.
From September to May, volunteers have the opportunity to help out in the late afternoon or early evening in conversational English classes at five local schools. The students at these five schools are aged seven through eighteen and the older children are at the level of taking the highest English diploma exam. Here volunteers can aide teachers in class to give students the extra practice they often need to successfully pass their exams.
Women’s Institute of Heraklion
The Women’s Institute of Heraklion invited Global Volunteers to serve at their organization in 2012. This non-profit organization is well known throughout Europe as it partners with other countries in the fight to eradicate abuse towards women and children. It is well respected in the community in Heraklion for its continuous efforts to raise money for children in need. The founder and director of the Women’s Institute is Maria Pahiathaki, who works closely with your team leader to organize and facilitate the volunteer experience. This organization founded the Abused Women and Children’s Shelter. This ‘secret’ safe house offers shelter and psychological support to children and women at risk of domestic violence. The shelter is a temporary home for up to three months and helps families to find new homes and become self-sufficient. When the community partner requests, volunteers help on a part-time basis during our spring and fall programs to tend to the garden, where vegetables are grown to be used in the kitchen at the center, and on various maintenance projects. There also may be opportunity to do one-on-one English classes with the residents of the shelter.
The Women’s Institute of Heraklion is currently building a new orphanage called House of Angels. Upon completion of the building, volunteers will be asked to assist at this facility where care will be given to orphans from newborns through age six. Volunteers will be able to serve by caring for, feeding, changing, and playing with these orphans while working alongside the 22 staff members.
Service Program Logistics
Global Volunteers Greece Country Manager, Samantha Pinakoulaki, leads all teams in Greece. In cooperation with our community partners, Samantha will facilitate your team’s orientation, assist you in being fully engaged in your assigned work project(s), and manage all project-related logistical issues. As a community member and mother of five children, she will introduce you to the community, help acclimate you to the local culture, invite you to community events, and engage you in the day-to-day life of the community.
Three meals a day are included in your service program fee and your team leader will organize all these logistics. You will eat breakfast and lunch or dinner at the hotel. Most of the vegetables and fresh fruit are homegrown in the hotel’s garden. Your other meals – featuring typically healthy and delicious Greek cuisine – will be taken at area cafés and restaurants. You can expect to enjoy such Greek delights as pork, chicken, olives, fresh fruit, feta cheese, and farmer’s salads. Vegetarian diets can be easy to maintain in Greece. Volunteers also may get the chance to enjoy a traditional Cretan evening in a local village with Greek dancers and music. Desserts, soft drinks, and alcoholic beverages are readily available for an additional charge.
Volunteers stay at the Hotel Handakas for all service programs whether you serve in the municipality of Malevizi or the municipality of Heraklion. The Hotel Handakas is a family-run hotel situated in the middle of a vineyard in the small town of Ammoudara. Each room is double occupancy and is equipped with a private bath with a shower and hot water. Triple (family) rooms are also available. Single rooms are available for an additional fee. All rooms are air conditioned and have balconies and a beautiful view. The hotel has a large swimming pool, sunbathing chairs, and a small bar. In addition, there are two computers with internet, a printer, and Wi-Fi all free for Global Volunteers to use. Wheelchair access is available. You can see photos of this lovely hotel here.
All in-country transportation related to your service program is included.Your team leader will meet you at the airport and transport you to your hotel by taxi, which is approximately a ten-minute ride. On the last day of the program you will also be taken back to the airport. Daily transportation to and from most work sites is included in the service program fee and is either by taxi or bus. Some of the English schools are within walking distance.
Note: transportation for free-time activities is not included.
In the evening and on the weekend you will have free time to visit the local sites. Opportunities for exploring this area during your free time abound. You can relax on the beach in Ammoudara, a six-kilometer sandy beach ten minutes’ walking distance from the hotel and which boasts 340 days of sunshine a year, or visit the Preveli monastery. Traveling to nearby Rethymno, you can stroll around its old Venetian-Ottoman quarter, which is dominated by the impressive Venetian Fortezza (fortress) of 1574. The area’s narrow, curving streets are lined with small churches, cafenes (Greek coffee shops), and old houses with Venetian façades and wooden Turkish balconies. You can travel east to the island’s capital, Iraklion (a 15-minute drive from the hotel), with its archaeological museum and the excavated and reconstructed palace of King Minos at Knossos just south of the city. Or, in nearby Fodele, birthplace of painter El Greco, you can walk through his childhood home and see many of his famous works. There are also several short nature walks through parks and wild areas for the nature lover to explore. In addition, several shopping areas draw a significant number of tourists to this popular region. Relaxing and soaking up the Mediterranean sun at various beaches is another popular way to relax. There is Boutari Winery just a 30-minute drive away where you can do a wine tasting. You will never be at a loss for free-time activities here!
Service Program Contribution
Global Volunteers’ service program contribution covers all lodging in double accommodation, three meals a day, in-country team transportation, emergency medical evacuation insurance, all preparatory materials, onsite orientation, a full-time team leader, and administration costs. Single rooms are available for an additional fee. The Greece service program contribution is $2,813 for one week and $3,112 for two weeks. Please ask your Volunteer Coordinator about extended stay options; referral credits; and discounts for students, companions, alumni, and children under the age of 12 with an accompanying adult. We also encourage you to use Global Volunteers’ online fundraising tool to create a personalized webpage to request partially tax-deductible donations from family and friends to help cover your service program contribution. Airfare and free time activity expenses are your responsibility. The service program contribution and airfare are tax-deductible for U.S. taxpayers.
“This incredible opportunity given to my children is truly a chance of a lifetime.”
– Marina Gonianaki, parent of a child in English classes with Global Volunteers