Transnational Meeting - Greece October 2018
Our second transnational meeting took place in Thessaloniki in Greece in October 2018.
One of the main priorities of this meeting was to focus on modern-day immigration into Greece as part of our Year 2 'Changing Europe' project focus.
Delegates attended a seminar entitled “Education of Refugee and Immigrant Children in Greece” which was led by a NGO representative from the local Education Department.
Across the whole of Greece there are currently 6000 children from refugee families attending Greek schools. These children are aged 5 to 16. When families first arrive in Greece, they are hosted in refugee camps in which the children attend afternoon classes to learn Greek, Maths, English and IT. Once the children are ready the children start attending local school, in which they receive extra support to learn to speak Greek.
NGOs support families with their accommodation and general needs. NGOs also provide Greek teachers with training in order for them to celebrate diversity in a consistent and positive way. The families are supported by the NGOs for three years, with the aim that they will then be self-sufficient.
The main aim for refugee pupils is to help them have normality in their lives. Being in school improves behaviour, sleeping patterns, family relationships and anxiety. Refugee pupils attend morning reception sessions with very small groups (approx. 5). They then attend larger classes in the afternoon (approx. 10 to 15).
Staff at Diapolitismiko Dimotiko Scholeio Neon Epivaton place high regard to using art, drama and music to enable all children to celebrate and understand their refugee classmates.
The group were provided with first-hand experience of various activities undertaken by the school, including:
A short film made by pupils using PlayMobil and Lego which portrayed the story of a persecuted family fleeing from their country to Thessaloniki. All meeting attendees were able to observe and discuss the film with pupils. Technical advice was also shared as to how a similar film could be made in other schools.
A second short film focused on how the Carnival of Animals music had been used to portray the plight of different animals (that were used to represent a refugee family). Art work from pupils was used to accompany the music as it was made into a short film/ presentation.
A short play based on ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ was performed by a group of pupils. Meeting attendees were able to observe good practice of how an effective short play can be presented focusing on music, mime and actions with very little dialogue.
All attendees were invited to participate in workshops alongside pupils that focused on self-expression and the discussion of challenging concepts. The workshops included:
How clay therapy can be used by children to represent refugee family stories. Children were encouraged to work in silence at first to model characters and to think up a life story. They were then encouraged to explain their characters’ stories to others.
How a craft activity involving strips of fabric can be used to develop creativity, cooperation and communication. Groups worked together to make fabric dolls and to then develop short performances that described how the dolls have helped each other.
The various activities and workshops organised provide valuable experience and understanding of how the Greek partner school uses the creative arts and music to develop confident, creative and caring citizens.