Kalliopi Chaniotaki joined Global Volunteers as our Greece team leader in 2022. In this role, she manages the logistics and project assignments of the service program while creating a safe space for volunteers to share a meaningful and productive service experience. She also collaborates on marketing campaigns during months when she’s not leading volunteers. Read on to learn about Kalliopi’s background and interests – and why you ought to join her on an upcoming service program on the island of Crete.
Kalliopi was born and raised in Heraklion, the capital and largest port city on the northern coast of Crete. After earning her Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Crete, she indulged her dream of living and volunteering abroad to experience life and cultures in different countries. In Magdeburg, Germany, she learned about giving back to society through a European Union student exchange program, and realized the value of offering her time and energy to a cause that matters to her. While pursuing her Master’s Degree in Environmental and Energy Management in the Netherlands, she realized that – more often than not – change starts in local communities, as they “are always the most knowledgeable factor in every issue, either economic, societal, or environmental.” Energized after completing her studies, and drawn by Crete’s sunny weather and family and friends, she returned to the island, where she lives today.
What drew you to Global Volunteers, and motivated you to join the staff?
I was searching for a creative way to use my skills and talents to make a difference while contributing to a cause. I always wanted to work toward creating a more just and equitable society, and after I came across the new opening for a Team Leader and meticulously searched the Global Volunteers website, I found that the organizational values and mission of service – “Promoting peace and justice around the world”- are aligned with my personal core values and aspirations.
What rewards you as a Team Leader in your homeland?
The people. I strongly believe it can provide the opportunity to make meaningful connections with others who share similar values and goals. It can also be an opportunity to learn and grow, as this role requires working with diverse groups of people and tackling complex social issues. Perhaps, my most beloved part of working as a Team Leader is the opportunity to meet new people with different backgrounds and learn about their life stories. I’m always inspired by people who are determined to serve under local guidance. I feel like altruism is a rare trait, and one that I admire the most. I find it so rewarding to lead a group of people who share the motivation and excitement to contribute to the local society. I aspire to welcome our volunteers and provide them with an amazing experience of the local culture while they contribute to the local society by utilizing their skills.
” I am always inspired by people who are determined to serve under local guidance. I feel like altruism is a rare trait and one that I admire the most.”Kalliopi Chaniotaki
How does a service program in Greece benefit the volunteers?
I believe that what makes all visitors come back year after year is Greek hospitality. Crete is a place where you can easily feel at home and immerse yourself in local culture. The local people are warm and friendly people, and it’s easy to travel in the country, too. During the service program, you can offer your service to the community and in your free time, take a break for a quick swim at the nearest beach in crystal-clear waters. The beaches will win your heart. Finally, it is not a myth that Mediterranean cuisine is one of the healthiest and most flavorful in the world.
“Crete is a place where you can easily feel at home and immerse in local culture, as the locals are warm and friendly people.”Kalliopi Chaniotaki
What is best about a week or two of volunteer service in Greece?
Crete is a beautiful and diverse island in the Mediterranean Sea. Just a few highlights are:
- The stunning natural beauty of the island, with its rugged coastline, sandy beaches, and lush forests.
- The rich history and culture of Crete, with ancient ruins, fascinating museums, and traditional villages.
- The delicious local cuisine, which includes a variety of fresh seafood, fruits, and vegetables, as well as unique dishes like “dakos” (a type of rustic bread topped with tomatoes and feta cheese).
- The opportunity to relax and unwind, with plenty of opportunities for swimming, sunbathing and enjoying the laid-back island lifestyle.
What do you do in your free time?
I am a huge nature lover. Luckily, Crete offers a lot of opportunities for outdoor activities. I can choose to climb up a mountain peak to experience a magical view, follow a trail through a gorge full of colorful trees and flowers, or swim in the ocean. You may also find me practicing yoga at home or in a beautiful park!