Saturday, January 31, 2009

Kindergarten Summer Camp 2008

September Team 2008

Friday, October 3, 2008

Submitted by Shirley Saint-Leon

“What would Theseus say?”
- Shirley Saint-Leon

We are surrounded by bumper stickers, bracelets, etc. that ask the question “what would Jesus do?” Theseus was a great Greek leader. As I reflected on our experiences I asked myself “what would Theseus do?”

Theseus would first begin by reminding us that Garrison Keillor notes that the children of Minnesota’s famous Lake Woebegone are all above average – but T* would assure us that our Minnesota 6 (Harry, Shari, Dean, Carol, Jenny, and Sally are way above average.

He would tell Milly that is she can’t get into the white jeans she brought with her to Crete she should give up all thoughts of buying herself a 3-zipper white spandex mini-skirt.

He would encourage Susan, Gil and Shirley to think beyond mere bank failures and the stock market chaos (and the fears this might generate) to look instead at the joys and niches Art has brought into their lives – Art will endure, money may not.

He would tell Jackie how special she is – children adore her; she can live comfortably among us older folks and fit right in; she has a rare gift as a journal writer. And that she makes all of us so glad to know her.

He would tell Lois to go to bed and sleep tight – and quietly.

He would tell Kathie that it’s ok every now and then to let her hair down.

He would tell Sam that she is a born leader who guides her flocks in their efforts to wage peace and international understanding. He would add that “there is no –ISH about it.”

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Submitted by Lois Wellendorf

“In matters of style, swim with the current. In matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
- Thomas Jefferson

Students in our school, Katikis Primary, say it is “Happy Month Day.” The children appear to be so happy every day that I think it should be called “Happy Month Day” every day. Kathie and I are greeted each morning with many children smiling, waving, and trying very hard to say something in English to us. We are visiting the 3rd through 6th graders. The English teachers, John and Evie, teach English classes in the main building and the temporary classrooms. School has just started for this year so the teachers do not know the students names and they tell us this makes it very hard for them. The third graders are learning their English alphabet and have studied the letters A through P. They are learning words like T-shirt, trousers, and hat. They were very excited to see their new workbooks and quickly put them in their backpacks which looked like they weighed a ton. They carry all their books, supplies, and snacks with them from class to class. They are in class, then take a 15 minute break, class, then break, class, then break, etc. We had the pleasure of visiting with a number of high school students today. Today was “walk day.” There was no school for them today so they visited our school where they had attended last year.

During our school day, the rest of our group was visited at the hotel by Matina Skoulas who had lived in Long Island, NY for a period of time. She now lives and teaches here in Crete. She discussed the educational system, private schools, etc. They found her very interesting and knowledgeable. Matina brought a pastry called Kaletschio???? from the Alada’s Bakery to share with us. Delicious! Tomorrow they will be visiting a traditional Cretan village called Anogia (Anogeia).

The afternoon was spent taking care of the daily or weekly chores such as spending time on the computer, doing laundry, catching up on lost sleep, shopping, a walk on the beach, etc. Wow! What a way to spend an afternoon.

How do you describe an evening of dining and dancing on a mountain top? Sam took us to beautiful place called Arolithos located high on a mountain and the view was spectacular. It was the perfect place for taking pictures of our group with the breathtaking scenery in the background. After about a half an hour, we were seated on the upstairs balcony overlooking the band and dance floor. A delicious dinner was enjoyed by all. The band consisted of a Keyboard, Lyre, and Boozooki. Sam point out when the man playing the Lyre sings, he doesn’t play, and when he plays he doesn’t sing. The three men and three women in costumes from Northern Greece were dancing to the Greek music and bright colored traditional costumes. The second set of dances costumes were from Crete. Jackie, Jenny, Susan, Sally, and Milly joined the dancers on stage and danced the same steps Sam’s children taught us at the hotel. Three ladies in red costumes danced a modern dance such as is done in the Boozooki clubs.

As we were waiting for our taxi’s the goats were coming down the mountain to be milked. They are milked by the shepherds early in the morning and then return on their own back up the mountain.
How do you end a perfect evening? The sound of bells tinkling in the moonlight

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Submitted by Milly Fetchin

“Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life.”
- Author Unknown

What a perfect beginning to a wonderful Sunday.

An open door with a slight breeze, Bocelli on my personal CD player and a little gray kitten playing with my feet. Everyone who was going to Santorini was present at 8:05 AM (our agreed upon departure time). Those who were not planning to go were Shari, Harry, Lois, and Kathy. Susan had planned to go but was not feeling well so she felt it advisable to stay back. We missed them all – we are now a family in a foreign land and miss any members who are not with us.

The ferry, the Flying Cat 4 took 2 hour to get to Santorini. The ride was smooth and uneventful to we played Rummy, ate, talked and time passed quickly.

The bus ride upon arrival was a very steep climb with several switch backs but did not take too long to get to the top.

Our first stop was Pyros – for one hour of shopping and pictures – somehow Jenny got back to the bus without her camera case – Jackie went back to look for it but it was not found.

Walking anywhere around Santorini requires concentration because of the rock steps and the slippery marble walkways especially wet which it was Sunday because of rain in the afternoon.

I want to take this opportunity again to thank Dean for his assistance in getting several of us down from the rocks after the picture-taking in Pyros.

Our guide was very informative and if one is able to retain in formation – you could learn a lot from her. One of the most interesting things would be how she got into the skirt she had on (tight white spandex with 3 zippers).

It was interesting that Jenny, Jackie, and I went off the beaten patch to take some shots and later Jackie found a picture in a shop of the very location that we had discovered to take our pictures. She bought that picture.

All in all, in spite of the rain, it was a great experience and provided us with memories to last a lifetime. We visited three locations on Santorini with shopping and photo opportunities in each – it was a long day and we were tired but satisfied with our decision to do this day trip – well worth it. Let all who agree say yea – opposed say no – the yeas have it I’m sure.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Submitted by Shari Schindele

“Never doubt that a small group of citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
- Margaret Mead

Friday marked the end of our first week of volunteering in the schools on Crete. It was an interesting day, offering a variety of experiences. For example, some of us missed having eggs for breakfast, so I took a poll and learned that our group would consume fourteen eggs if Dimitris would prepare them for Saturday breakfast. We learned that eggs had been missing from our breakfasts because Dimitris only buys very fresh eggs and none had been available. Much to our surprise, though, they appeared during our four-course lunch: salad of lettuce and tomatoes, a fried egg, soup, and pears.

Shortly after breakfast, the St. Marina’s afternoon teaching group left for Knossos by bus. They returned by cab in time for lunch and wishing for naps. Meanwhile, the morning teaching groups were off to their schools.

Millie reported that her morning with the 3 ½ to 4-year-olds was wonderful—especially since she was asked for an encore presentation of “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

Carol’s group worked with yellow. The five-year-olds dipped a lemon half in yellow paint and stamped lemon figures on paper. Picture it: one lemon, twenty-one five-year-olds, and yellow paint.

Lois and Kathy’s students approach them on the playground and say, “My name is…” or “How are you?” or they wait to see if Kathy and Lois can remember their names. One of the recipes for their daily treats—yes, they get daily treats AND recipes—called for raki. Today, they each received a bottle of Raki “for the cookies.”

Harry and Dean learned today that their conversation activity of “Two Truths and a Lie” was an even bigger hit than they realized. Students met them at the gate when they arrived and said they’d played the “game” the night before with friends. They also learned that the more seniority a teacher has, the fewer hours she teaches. For example, the physics teacher now teaches sixteen 45-minute periods per week—less than three hours per day. A beginning teacher teaches twenty-five periods per week—3 ¾ hours per day. The physics teacher was shocked at the schedule for American teachers. Dean and Harry have been asked to talk at next week’s faculty meeting on the topic of the American education system.

The afternoon group was surprised to see that there are fewer students in their after-school program on a Friday. We didn’t mind, of course, and the day was fun.

Susan was delighted to see “provocateur” Katarina soften up a bit, and she was also happy to see Costa lighten up and smile.

Jackie received an unexpected hug and kiss from Nick—which brought tears to Sally’s eyes at the genuine affection reflected in his actions.

Jenny convinced Thomasin to draw something other than dragons although he incorporated those assigned shapes and body parts into his dragons. After awhile, she had him labeling the drawings and reviewing the vocabulary orally.

Gil and Shirley manned the “portrait studio,” where Gil continued drawing individual portraits of the students to their absolute pride and delight.

And I received my second work of art from Katerina today—Katerina who sidled up to my table and laid the folded-up drawing in front of me and then moved away. Playing Bingo and drawing shapes and “house” vocabulary with Anna while she earned stickers was another highlight for me.

The morning teachers engaged in a variety of afternoon activities including beach walking and shopping. When we had all returned to Hotel Handakas, we had social time pool side (and in the pool) and lots of card playing—Bridge and “May I,” a Gin-Rummy-like game taught by Jenny.

These are snippets of our first week that do not convey the delight and care we feel for the students. What we have seen through all of our experiences this first week of volunteering is that even though our situations in the classrooms and during free time are very different from what we encounter at home, we can make progress in building relationships with the students and with each other. Too, we can make progress—both baby steps and bigger steps depending on our teachers’ comfort levels—in conversing in English and a little Greek with students of all ages.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Submitted by Sally Deke

“A day well spent – to have lived, loved, learned, and laughed.”

This morning’s gray, cloudy beginning turned into a beautiful sunny day. We had a brief morning meeting and the AM teams left for school, while the PM team members went into town, read by the pool, relaxed and rested, then left for St. Marina School at 1:30.

Our fourth day with children age’s six to ten – approximately – went well. We’ve all adjusted to a slightly chaotic time, since we meet with our students during a casual recreation home work time. The students waiting outside always seem happy to see us. We begin each day with name tags and a song. Today we had a large group activity with all students playing Bingo. After this the seven teachers took places around the room marking our various activities including some using the names of shapes and colors. We added student drawing to our activities today, which the children seemed to like. We’re fortunate to have an artist among us – Gil – and he has been putting drawings on the blackboard that go along with our theme for the day. Today he also drew sketches of individual children, which they LOVED. Some students had us tape their portraits on their shirts or the wall; they proudly took them home. It was a successful (and exhausting) afternoon.

During this time some of the AM teachers took the bus into Heraklion and some purchases were made – two brave souls – Carol and Harry – even went for a swim. We hear it was chilly.
The highlight of the evening was dancing. Sam’s four oldest children modeled Greek dancing and taught us six-step and twelve-step dances. We had varying degrees of success, but we should all be able to dance when we go out for dinner next Wednesday evening. It was another happy day in Crete.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Submitted by Susan Jensen

“A Person needs a little madness, or else they never dare to cut the rope and be free.”
- Nikos Kazardzakis

After an exhilarating (and a bit exhausting) first day, the team rallied after breakfast to plan for the next few days. Shari suggested we have some topics and vocabulary words in our pockets with some general goals for what we’d like to accomplish in our 2 weeks.

Sally brought name tags & I had some magic markers, so we decided to start with basic introductions & ask kids to make their own tags. This worked well—.since kids wandered in at different times. When new ones came in, kids would clue them in on the drill, and even help with English spellings.

We started with a group activity, singing Head & Shoulders, Knees and Toes, led by our own diva, Jenny. Resident artist, Gil, created a masterful self portrait on the blackboard, which Jenny labeled for the kids. Almost all the kids joined in & even wanted to pick up the pace. Jackie was a big hit again with Constantina, Maria, & Vassilly, at the Bingo board. Luckily, after a bit Maria II spelled her & wanted to take over as caller. Shirley & Gil were going gang busters with Nikos & Dimitri, working on colors & numbers & simple addition, while Sallie had them picking up U.S. geography with a U.S. map puzzle. I can vouch for Sallie’s success, since I switched stations with her, and my guys, Nikos & Dimitris were actually saying some of the state names as they worked the puzzle!

Jenny & Shari also had a lively group playing bingo & working with numbers. I played a Brown Bear, Brown Bear game with a rotating group, doing lousy impersonations & animal sounds. My friend Dimitris was so excited when he guessed the animal, & quickly produced a more authentic sound for the animal—his favorite was snorting like a pig.

We ended with a final round of Head & Shoulders, to the amusement of a couple of parents picking up their kids.

During free time, I swam a few laps in the pool, joined later by Dean. We both are proud to be identified now as blue-footed boobies.

Had I known what a feast awaited us in the evening, I would have swum a few more laps. Sam had arranged for a Greek banquet—calamari, cheese balls, tzatziki sauce stuffed grape leaves, fried zucchini, and vegetable fritters, with the grand finale of loukoumades & a nice tonic of raki to ensure a good night’s sleep. A perfect ending for a great day.

Monday, September 21, 2008

Submitted by Dean LaFrenz

“What we have done for ourselves dies with us. What we have done for others & the world lives on and is immortal.”

Breakfast arrived early today as some were still experiencing “jet lag” and others were still recovering from the celebration of Harry & Shari’s 45th wedding anniversary.

There was a degree of anxiousness as we anticipated our first day as a true Global Volunteer on Crete. It appeared that SAM was somewhat nervous as she began to pace in anticipation of the first cabs arrived.

At 9:00 AM Harry and I left with Sam to our assignment. We were met at the gates by the warden of Gazi High School. We followed Sam to the teachers lounge and Principal’s office. We met Stella and Kathryn the English Teachers of the High School after a quick hello from the chain smoking Principal. We soon found ourselves in front of a class of 26 16 year olds. Our format of introduction of self, introduction of Global Volunteers, an Geography of the United States solicited questions from the group. The 45 minute class flew by and the students left us with a series of challenging questions to be discussed next time.

We returned to the hotel for lunch and to share experiences with the other volunteers. There seemed to be additional chatter around the lunch table as ½ of the group released their anxiety through the sharing of their success and the other ½ increased their anxiety due to the unknown and high expectations of self.

Our afternoon was spent walking to town and sitting around the pool sharing thoughts and feelings about the day.

Dinner of Fish and Rice gained high praise. Our 8:30 meeting was called by the arrival of our leader – the meeting was a sharing of the days activities by each individual. There was time for laughter, as Kathy & Lois told of the cab confusion where they tried to convince a school working that he must be their cab driver. There was support as Gil & Shirley related their difficulty with relating to 4 year olds, and there was praise as Sam assured us that we are off to a fantastic start and she was proud of us.

Everyone dismissed with a strong feeling of accomplishment and hopes of an even greater tomorrow.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Submitted by Harry Schindele

“You have not lived a perfect day, even though you have earned your money, unless you have done something for someone who will never be able to repay you!”

Wow, what a trip! We all made it and now it is Sunday morning and our 1st day of volunteer work.

We began with a continental breakfast and much chatter about our trip and nightly sleep. First order of “Sam I Am” involved our “name-those-to-the-right” game. Once completed each volunteer offered brief summaries of their personal lives --- some interesting stuff.

Next we discussed the “Philosophy of Service” for Global Volunteers – “Wage peace and promote justice,” followed by the 10 guiding principles.

Some housekeeping chores followed:
Social planning – Millie, Susan, and Jackie
Care Taken – Shirley

SAM was so pleased with our language effort she volunteered to buy the 1st round.

We spent some time developing team goals, summaries by:
Culture & Crete
Helping Others
Developing Friendship
Have Fun

After lunch we discussed the following desirable characteristics of our team – Goodwill, learn & serve friendship, enjoyment, and flexibility.

Team assignments were next on Sam’s agenda. Interestingly, volunteers were a big part of that decision. That was rather nice.

Finally, we reviewed school policy and personal safety. Fire, earthquakes, parachuting, and water boarding were to be avoided.

School policies included: No gifts, no one on one with students, follow teacher’s lead, no early photos.