Volunteer hiking trips

To explore our surroundings on foot is what we did the last two weekends here. Our first destination was a park in the next village over, situated a little bit higher than Katarraktis and with a great view of the sea, Chios and Turkey. We took a lot of food with us on the trip to make a picknick in the park.

We spent a lot of time there playing cards and had fun together. It is really a beautiful place to be.

At the next weekend the original plan was to just go for a coffee and later a small walk. However, because of a sign that said “Old Katarraktis” and our curiosity the small walk turned into a hike of 11 kilometers. Even though we didn’t wear the right shoes for that nobody complained and the experiences made it worth it. On the way we discovered a beautiful monastery and old Katarraktis which is ruins from stone houses. Finally, we arrived in Pagida, a small village, and stayed at a tavern there. The village had so much charm that we decided to come back while still being there.

Well, things sometimes happen when you expect them the least.

What is she doing?

Good question. Philosophically speaking as well as in everyday life I have often asked myself this question. It’s not that I don’t have enough work here, on the contrary, but rather “Why am I doing this? Why am I here?”. The answer is and stays always the same: I learn. I learn from good situations and from bad. I learn from living with different person(alitie)s, I learn from arguments. At the end of the day I might not always feel good with what I’ve achieved but at least I learnt something.

Now to the actual reason of this blog entry: to explain my work. The most important thing about it: it’s divided into two parts, work with children and work with the computers.

In the first nine months of my year I spent three to four hours in the morning at a primary school and from time to time also at a kindergarten. To answer the most important questions:
My tasks were to keep the children concentrated during class, to make photocopies, to prepare and think of handicrafts, with sufficient Greek knowledge also to correct exercises and look for mistakes, to cheer them up in PE, to look after them in the breaks and much more. Every day was different and it was always a fulfilling task.
Not many children here speak English well (they’re between six and twelve years old) which is why Greek is the main language to communicate with them. At the beginning my conversations were limited to “Hello! How are you”, “Good. Thanks.“ and the very important „I don’t understand.“. However, after just a few months I was able to have small conversations.

In the afternoon at 5pm we started the computer work for two or three hours. At the beginning of the year seminars with small groups of children about Photoshop or WordPress were also part of my work. It was a lot of fun but difficult due to the language barrier.
Another big part is our radio ChiosRadio where we write, record and edit articles with different topics (Greek culture and mythology, bands, interviews with fictional characters etc.).
We created Rocketwar from scratch which is about an Easter event on the island. A short while ago we also started the page Curiosity which is still waiting in the wings. We also brought Chiosmania back to life with articles about places, beaches, transport and much more on Chios.

Now in summer school is closed and therefore our work schedule is a little different. We work in the morning on the computer and create our websites and in the afternoon we organize every day two hours of games for the children here. The effort is totally worth it when you see the children smiling at you happily.

Middle of my project?

Mid-term seminar. A meeting of all the volunteers in Greece that have reached the half of their long-term projects. For me it was rather looking back at and evaluating my time on Chios and receiving a lot of energy for the last quarter of my stay.

With the ferry we went to Athens on Sunday night. We spent the time, as far as possible, sleeping. Exactly at our arrival in Athens the sun rose and we captured the moment with our phones.

We could spend our first day in Athens freely and enjoyed the hotel pool as well as going to the city center.

Spending some nights in a 5-star hotel has many advantages but you can also feel out of place between all the business people in suits.

What we leant? Every project has its problems and nobody is 100% satisfied. However, we should focus on the positive memories and not get lost in the negative ones. As part of the seminar we also drew a map of Europe and highlighted our countries because like these also we are different and diverse.

Of course, we also spent time together outside of the seminar, in the afternoons at the pool and at night outside. In the park, the marina and the center of Athens we sat together casually and got to know each other.

It is amazing to see that in such a short time you can build such a good relationship with people. I hope that we can see each other again.

Agia Fotini

Slowly most of us are nearing the end of our project. People are constantly coming and going. Giorgia left last week and two new volunteers arrived, Gregor from Austria and Julia from Germany. These constant changes can be exciting but also exhausting. However, all in all one word describes it perfectly: beautiful. Yes, it is beautiful.

To relax a little bit we spent the whole Saturday on the beach. Along the coast over stones we walked to Agia Fotini. Next to a wide selection of restaurants and taverns it offers also many sunbeds and sunshades. We spent a comfortable few hours in the sun and quite some time in the cool ocean.

For lunch we went to a tavern where I enjoyed the traditional Greek dish Moussaka. It is similar to Lasagna but instead of the pasta they use zucchini, eggplant and potatoes.

The final result of the day was a light sunburn even though I used a lot of sunscreen as protection. Well, a pale Austrian girl can never be prepared enough for the Greek sun.

Ready, sail, go!

Our sailing boat started into the summer season after a long winter break and we went on our first excursion. Together with the organization we went to the neighbor island Oinousses and spent one night at the port there. On the way there we got to refresh our sailing knowledge and drove the boat as well as set the sails.

We arrived shortly before sunset in Oinousses and explored the island in a beautiful orange and red coloring. Of course, we took many pictures. Oinousses is actually made up by many small islands and from a higher point of view we could also admire those.

In the evening we went to all of the bars of the small island, well, actually there is just one. Jokes like “We are in the best bar of the island” made our evening.

After an surprisingly relaxing night on the boat we spent the next morning at the beach. It was a nice trip which we will remember for a long time.

Summer is here!

Around ten days ago the school year officially ended in Greece. To celebrate the beginning of summer they presented songs and theatres in front of parents and students. Especially the first and last class of the school thought of something special for the event. Also we had to say goodbye to the teachers and students whom we’ve spent a lot of time with. It was an amazing and educative time.

Many will probably ask themselves now: School is over, what is she still doing in Greece then? Well, in the summer our main focus is on the computer work (video cutting, website design and our radio). Additionally, we organize a kids summer program from Monday to Friday for two hours a day. So we still have enough work.

Doing the summer activities for children was a new experience for us but just after one week we can tell that this summer will be great!

Father’s Day without my dad

Dear Dad,
while I am spending my weekend in the south of the island on a beach, you have a lot of things going on at home. From your birthday, a concert, 125 years of our orchestra to Father’s Day – a quick “Happy birthday” on the phone was all we could squeeze in. By the way, last week a new volunteer arrived, a Polish guy. Oh, and yesterday I got up at 5am to see the sunrise. Later I slept again, I’m just not used to getting up that early like you are.

Well, and around noon the organization took us to Komi, a beautiful sandy beach. If I told you that you can find lounger after lounger here and next to them sunshades you wouldn’t want to come visit me for sure. It took me by surprise as well that although many people came here the atmosphere was still quiet and relaxed. Yesterday I finally did it, I went inside the ocean from the beach for the first time in Greece. I think part of why I had the courage to was that the water was crystal clear and I couldn’t spot any fish. Of course, I took many photos and finally put my underwater camera to use.

In the late afternoon we walked from Komi to Emporios. Not even 45 minutes from Komi you can find yourself entering an entirely different world. Emporios is a small village in a bay and has many charming taverns. Of course Greek food still doesn’t stand a chance against Schnitzel, Schweinsbraten and Co.

Well, and on Sunday, Father’s Day, we enjoyed the last sunrays at the black volcano beach before clouds moved in front of the sun. With a taxi we then went back to Komi where we spent the rest of the day.

It might be a little mean but greetings and kisses from the beach, dad! I hope you have an amazing Father’s Day. A great dad needs to be thanked from time to time, so THANK YOU, dad! I love you.

Yours, Babs