Judy with Maria (the nurse) service experience in Greece.

Global Volunteers professes that every volunteer helps wage peace and promote justice in partner communities worldwide But, you might wonder: “Can I really make a difference in my two weeks of service? Can I truly impact at least one person’s life?” If you have doubts, this story may just convince you how important you can be as a volunteer conversational English teacher.

Oregonians Judy and Bob Nix joined a Crete, Greece program to teach conversational English at an evening program for youth and adults. Judy hadn’t anticipated how this service would impact her life – as well as her students’. She refers to one special student, Maria, who has worked as a community health nurse in Heraklion, Crete for 23 years. But, she couldn’t advance in her career without learning English. So, Maria studied while working for over a year at Tenia’s language school in Heraklion, one of Global Volunteers’ work sites. Her ultimate goal: To enter the local University and obtain a degree in vaccination & infection prevention so she can earn a better living. To do this, however, she not only needed proficiency in English certificate but also had to work on a resume and introduction letter. When Judy and Bob Nix served at the school, Judy quickly became attached to Maria, and felt her passion to succeed in her new goal. The fast friends worked together for two weeks to write a new resume and introduction letter. It changed Maria’s world.

Says Judy: Every evening after Maria had completed her written assignments, we would talk and talk and talk, I was able to coax and gather relevant information about her past experience. After drafting the document 4 times, I felt we’d managed to present her experience and qualifications in the strongest manner possible. I’m hopeful that with these new documents she’ll be able to secure herself a place on the program she so wants to attend! I truly feel I made a difference in Crete!”

Maria enthuses: “I had been so nervous about taking this exam, and the presentation of my resume, that I’d had trouble sleeping, and then out of nowhere, Judy came into my life like an angel. It’s as if God had answered my prayers for help!”

You can have similar impact on students’ lives! Our service program in Crete is divided into two programs.

1) The spring and autumn program (March, April, May, September, October).

During the spring and autumn programs, the volunteer’s main project is teaching conversational English at evening English schools under the guidance of the local teachers. It’s the time of year when the students prepare to take their English certificate exams. While the children of Greece learn English from 2nd-grade elementary school, the curriculum taught is not adequate enough for them to gain their certificate in English proficiency, hence the need for extra English lessons after school. To gain a place at a Greek University, English is a bonus, plus the fact that Crete’s main income is tourism, the need for English speakers is imperative and this where Global Volunteers can make a difference.

It is obvious how committed the teachers are; they clearly love the kids and work hard to help them achieve the desired language skills. What a treat it has been to participate in the students’ English learning experience.”

Alumna Volunteer, Linda Murphy

The ultimate goal is for the students to pass a five-part English proficiency test including vocabulary, writing, conversational speaking, and critical thinking in English.  An English certificate (that is awarded through the proficiency test) is a plus!  We felt integrated into their success.”  

– Alumni Volunteers Tom & Rondi Olson.

Also when requested by our host community, and on a part-time basis, volunteers are asked to conduct adult conversational English lessons at the Women’s association in Heraklion, help out with light painting, and gardening projects at the shelter for abused women and children and pack supplies for the “refugee” project.

This has been a very rewarding experience, but also a little sad knowing what these people are going through. The importance and its impact on the refugees cannot be overstated.  Just one act of kindness towards restoring their dignity and self-worth.”

Alumna volunteer Linn Joannis

2) The Global Volunteers summer school program (June, July, August)

During the summer months, Global volunteers run a “summer school” program during the mornings for the local elementary school children. Here, Volunteers are in complete control when it comes to classroom curriculum. Working in pairs and with a translator when necessary the English school is designed to be a relaxed fun program enticing the young students to learn English through games, art activities, songs, worksheets and outside games.

“Seeing my daughter Megan on the last day, surrounded by hugging kids, was all the satisfaction that was possible to achieve.  Playing some basketball and soccer during the breaks and watching my father, Bob, doing the last classroom exercise on Friday was fulfilling.”

Alumna volunteer Mike Appleby

“We found the ‘special formula’ that worked.  Every day became easier, and the lessons started to flow naturally.  Trust was built, friendships were formed, connections were made, lots of fun was had, and learning actually happened! “

Alumna volunteer Val Sellers.
Language lessons are fun all year around! Join enthusiastic children and adults in Greece – and make a lasting difference.

You’re a link in a continuous chain of volunteers, who have served before you, or, will serve after you worldwide in our host communities. Click this link to learn how you can volunteer in Greece.

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