Thursday, October 17, 2013

Expanded future opportunities

In the children’s story Charlotte’s Web, the process of change was explained by the spider languishing. Our time as Global Volunteers in Crete has now been languishing, too. The tourist shops in Amadoura have been closing, the hotels have been closing, the restaurants and bars have been closing, and the numerous car rental stores have as well. Actually, our special hotel will also soon be closing, too. As our time here closes, it is a time to reflect on “who we are and why we are here,” as stated with a British accent to us each morning by our fearless leader, Sam. 

Our Global Volunteer goals have been both personal and team oriented. We certainly have expanded our horizons by utilizing car, bus, and walking opportunities to explore not only our local area, but also other areas of this amazing county. Our personal goals have been as diverse as Lynn enjoying finding early morning coffee shops and Betty and Perry driving to small villages and shopping for shoes for their granddaughters. Our insights have been impacted by the precious experiences of working with an amazing master teacher, Martina, along with the children and teens enrolled in her school. One insight we have gleaned is clear, children and teens who learn English can have expanded future opportunities.

In two short weeks we certainly realize we have not changed the world or the country of Greece.  However, we can certainly smile and share with our families, friends, and even strangers in the future that our lives as Global Volunteers have been changed about this big world, this beautiful country, and the wonderful Cretan people. And, just possibly, some Cretan children and their families will have some positive memories of three Americans who came to Crete as Global Volunteers to teach English.


Message of the Day:“There is no recipe to be a great teacher - that is what is unique about them.” - Robert Sternberg

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Engaged and entertained

We are all enjoying the excellent location of Amadoura. Access to the archeological sights, the dynamic city of Heraklion, the lovely beaches, and the mountain backdrop are all making this an exceptional experience. The students continue to be a joy to work with. Tonight in addition to going over their lessons, we snuck out for a snack in Gazi and had one of students’ brother perform some traditional Greek dance steps for us. Everyone is eager to keep us engaged and entertained and it’s working! Put simply…I love Crete.

Message of the Day: “Everyone is gifted but some people never open the package!” – Wolfgang Riebe

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Another day in paradise

Another day in paradise. The weather forecast indicates a little rain tomorrow, we’ll see. 

Today Betty and Perry visited the Historical Museum of Crete. This was a really great adventure.  The presentations were very educational, especially the exhibits about World War II. During our visit we noticed a photography crew taking photographs of many exhibits and conducting an interview with a person who appeared to be the museum curator. We had a snack break on the museum balcony (overlooking the Mediterranean Sea) while the crew was also there. We talked with them and learned they are from Belgrade, Serbia and are filming a documentary program called “Postcard” for a Serbian television channel. They are spending three weeks on Crete on this project. We visited for 15 to 20 minutes exchanging information.

During the afternoon we stopped at a shop that sold special signs and older license plates. We had them engrave a little sign that says ‘air conditioning’ in Greek for Perry’s workshop.  Another stop we made will probably be a highlight of our trip, as it was at a store that sells uniforms and accessories for the police. We were able to obtain some official police shirts and hats and arm patches for our son, an officer with the California Highway Patrol. Law enforcement officers like to obtain items from other agencies. We also gave them a CHP arm patch that was mounted on the wall of the store before we left. 

Again, teaching went well. A couple of the students that had minimal interest in previous classes were more interested and participated more willingly. Learning new vocabulary words is a challenge and some words can be tough, like ‘bulb’, but they work on it with a good attitude.

Message of the Day: “Don’t find fault, find remedy.” - Henry Ford  

Monday, October 14, 2013

How could Crete get any better

How can a Monday in Crete get any better? The weather was warm with a slight breeze and three new friends drove along, experiencing a new adventure. The day included visiting with a tailor of Greek men’s traditional costumes and his father. The tailor showed us how to wrap a scarf around Perry’s head to make him Greek. Down the road from the tailor shop was another village. Yes, a store going out of business had a 50%-off sale on jewelry and accessories. (Betty took a long look in that store.) Down the road further was a monastery that was a true treasure. The complex included a large museum of church and local artifacts. The number of historical icons on display was breathtaking. The complex included a nunnery, a very old beautiful church, a gift store, a hospital, a home for aging nuns, and an orphanage for about 60 children. And yes, further down the road was our original destination, the ancient ruins of Festos. We were able to wander around in such an amazing piece of history.

The students at school continue to make us laugh as they enjoy being kids. It seems their opportunity to speak English with English-speaking strangers is not really difficult but very welcomed and getting easier even within the few days we have been part of their lives. Tonight as we were leaving, one girl called out, “Tootles.”

Message of the Day: “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” - William Butler Yates

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A great weekend on Crete

The weekend was great! We visited churches, Agia Nicholas, and other great sights in the region. We enjoyed a gourmet dinner in Heraklion hosted by Matina. Her two children, Nathlie and Nicko, joined us so we had the opportunity to practice English and they went over a few Greek  phrases for us. The warmth of the hotel staff and everyone we are in contact with is making this trip a true joy.

Message of the Day: “A genius is a person who shoots at something no one else can see – and hits it.” - Unknown

Friday, October 11, 2013

Cultural discussions with students

As reported earlier, we have been blessed with great weather. If anything, it is a bit warm, but not by much. Betty and I went to the architectural museum specializing in the Knossis Palace materials. This museum is completing a total remodel with half of it completed to date. The sections available for viewing are spectacular! Lynn also experienced successful adventures in the Heraklion area.

Our teaching assignment tonight went well. However, we possibly caused a delay in specific lesson progress. This is because Betty and I basically had a time of cultural discussions with our ninth-grade students. We discussed everything from artichokes to orange pie to Doritos nachos during movie events. Two of our students also treated us to a presentation of their mandolin skills. What an absolute treat!

Message of the Day: “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” - Henry Ford

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Truly blessed in Greece

Yes, indeed we have been truly blessed. Oh my, where to begin? Let us start with birds singing, blue skies, beautiful scenery, and the opportunity to end each day with young English learners.  Today the bonus for the team members was a memorable trip to another local area where we enjoyed archeological wine making and ruins complete with a guard who spoke very little but we got his message. Further along our trip, while we were enjoying a late morning beverage at a small café, the owner shared some pieces of her homemade cake along with a conversation about her life. 

(Maybe tomorrow our friendly cats will return.)

Message of the Day: “I will study and get ready and someday my chance will come.” - Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Learning about our students

After breakfast Betty, Perry, and I boarded the Cretan bus for the busy metropolis of Heraklion.  We split up so some of us could shop while others explored the Museum of History and enjoyed lunch.

The evening at Matina’s English school went well. We took turns going over vocabulary and the alphabet as well as having the students tell stories. They really seem to enjoy working with us and we are enjoying learning about their hobbies and interests. They seem to like all the same television shows, music, and hobbies as American teenagers.

Message of the Day:  “The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.”

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Cooperative attitudes

Another day in paradise, 76 degrees Fahrenheit and clear. This morning Betty and Perry took a trip to visit the Knossos Palace. What an educational adventure, learning about thousands of years of history. Lynn went to Iraklio in search of a Starbucks and was diverted to many other local shops in addition to her original quest.  

This evening it was back to Matina’s English school. The introductory period was over and we were working with the students on their lessons and quizzes. They are all serious about their work, but, at the same, have a sense of humor and a very cooperative attitude. We split the groups up a little so we had more opportunities for personal contact.

Message of the Day:  “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”  - Henry Ford

Monday, October 7, 2013

Visiting with Martina

What a way to start our official work week - beautiful blue skies, a slight breeze, and a team of three with willing spirits. Perry and I went on a short morning adventure. We saw a monastery, El Greco Museum, beautiful countryside with citrus trees, and goats and sheep. A tour book could not have done better.

Lynn reported she went on a long walk that got longer than expected but was very enjoyable.  Just imagine sitting outdoors in a café and reading a book with uninterrupted time. Add to that visual picture, the pleasure of two cappuccinos.

Tonight we went to the English program school. It’s just down the road in Gazi. We met Matina the owner, director, and immigrant from New York who operates this student-centered program to assist students to pass needed English examinations. We had a wonderful time visiting with the students and Matina in English.

Message of the Day:  “To teach is to touch a life forever.”

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Getting to know each other poolside

A bright sunny day on beautiful Crete, Betty, Perry, Team Leader, Sam, and I enjoyed orientation poolside at the hotel. We got to know each other, discussed our goals for the two weeks (experiential, personal; expand horizons, brighten future) and learned about the after-school English program we will be working on.

Perry, Betty, and I took a beautiful drive to Anogia Village for some shopping and local culture and had the opportunity to witness a bride and groom walking to the Greek Orthodox Church to get married. The entire village joined in.

Message for the Day: “Volunteers are not paid – not because they are worthless, but because they are ‘priceless’.”