Working at the St. Spiro’s Center for Special Youth and Adults, a team of University of Minnesota students used their alternative spring break in Greece to help with physical and occupational therapy through academic and recreational activities, including candle-making, woodworking, leather crafts and sports. One student reviews a week of service and learning:
The bus arrived on time and we trundled up the mountain one last time. By now the people of the center are used to our presence and shouts of Kali-Mera! greet our entrance. It has been a rewarding spring break in Greece. Today, we finished some crafts with the St. Spiro students, had some delicious Greek pastries provided by the center and then went up the hill to practice parade marching in anticipation of St. Spiro’s participation in the Easter parade. After a couple turns around the circle, we joined in the fun and marched with the day students.
“It’s amazing the way these people so easily let us into their lives, allowing us to come in, sit with them at their table, use their materials and participate in their activities – all without argument, judgement or a second thought – we were included by them. There’s a lesson in that.”
After parade practice, we took a surprise field trip down the mountain a little ways to the local monastery. We paired up, held hands and proceeded down. The monastery was quiet, serene, peaceful as well as beautiful. Quite a setting there up in the mountains. We were treated to candies and a hearty ring of the bell by the nuns present. We were allowed to roam a bit and take photos, an opportunity we made good use of. After our visit we passed back through the stone archway and up the winding road to the St. Spiro Center once again.
Aphrodite was particularly aware that it was time for us to say goodbye – posing for many photos with us as well as giving us hugs. I think we’ll all remember the staff and day students at St. Spiro, from George the atomic bomb kicking whirlwind to Yanni of Canada fame to Kaite who really loved playing ball, it was a joy to share a brief moment in their lives and share in their spirit of caring and openness.
It has been an amazing week with amazing people, both Greek and American, and it has been an experience none of us will ever forget. It has been a week of surprises, both large and small – there were a lot of twists and turns for a short spring break trip such as this. Through it all the kindness, patience and generosity of everyone we met and the flexibility and willingness to just go with it from the Global Volunteers team means I can confidently report we didn’t just meet our goals but we exceeded them, and we had a great time along the way!