The inter-generational Appleby family group – grand-daughter Megan, father Mike, and grandfather Robert – joined together to volunteer in Crete with Global Volunteers. Their assignment? Helping elementary and middle school kids speak conversational English. Although Global Volunteer Alumni Robert taught conversational English to High School kids and adults on previous programs, he said enjoyed working with younger kids in the Cretan classrooms. In an interview with the family, Mike said: “On many levels, it was a learning experience for each of us, but also made use of our previous and varied volunteer service efforts.”
Has Volunteering with kids always been in the family?
Yes. Megan works with kindergarten and first-grade kids at her church and walks dogs at a local shelter. Mike has mentored at First Lego League and later for First Robotics Challenge teams in middle school and high school with his son, Matthew. Robert previously taught conversational English as a volunteer and joined several other volunteer service trips with the Appleby clan over the last decade.
Tell us about your experience teaching kids in Crete:
Mike explained: We started with the orientation meeting at our hotel, the Hotel Handakas with 5 fellow team members and our team leader working on the goals we wanted to achieve:
- To contribute.
- volunteers learning.
- kids learning.
- To teach
- To have lots of fun!
“Megan was assigned to the first-grade kids which was perfect for her – with her already extensive experience with young ones. By default, my Dad and I were assigned the oldest kids. Our team leader, Sam, was superb in interacting with all of us individually as well as with the kids. Having lots of fun was achieved almost effortlessly. It was simply a part of each day’s activities with the kids. “Mister, Mister” rang out almost continuously for all five days. Almost all the kids were enthused to be there and learning as much as possible. Regardless of what exercises or games we were playing, they really got into the spirit of finding the right answer. We hope they got as much fun out of learning as we did – and at the end of the day, all goals were achieved to a great extent.”
What are your fondest memories?
“Seeing 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 was a lot of fun, as well as surprising to the kids. Soccer was especially surprising, possibly because of being 61 years old, they had few expectations in that regard. Watching my father, Bob, doing the last classroom exercise on Friday (fixing errors in sentences) was satisfying as well. The kids never hesitated to try to fix an error even when they got up to the board and did not really know what the error was, they still tried. And even if they sat down without correcting anything, they were still raising their hands the very next chance they got. As a group, they never quit until the last error was corrected.”
Any advice for future Volunteers who want to volunteer in Crete?
The travel to and from the US to Crete for us was not simple or easy. The long layover on the way was especially stressful (Geneva has the most uncomfortable seats of any airport ever visited by any of us). BUT once in the classroom, all the exhaustion fell away, and there were just kids’ shining eyes looking back at us. It was an experience to Volunteer in Crete that Megan and I would really love to do again, preferably for two weeks next time!