By Konstantina Katsoni
Teaching is all about having an impact on children’s lives, helping them attain the tools that will help them pursue their hopes and dreams. This is a belief I have always held and which inspired me to join the team of educators of the ‘Geia Xara’ project teaching Greek to third-country national minors.
Geia Xara is a programme designed to help young migrants acquire basic language skills providing Greek language courses in Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca and Pafos. Ultimately, the project aims to help students of a migrant background attending primary education adapt to life in Cyprus, contributing to their path to integration.
For my part, I was one of the teachers offering lessons to unaccompanied minors and my involvement was a wholly fulfilling and exciting experience, one that challenged and benefited me greatly both at a personal and professional level.
I still remember the nervousness and excitement I felt before entering the class on the first day and how proud and lucky I considered myself to have this experience. Undoubtedly, being able to communicate in the language of their host country is extremely important for young migrants, especially those here without the support of their families and I was glad to be part of a project that contributed to that.
The programme offered unaccompanied minors the chance to attend classes during the summer, providing them with all the material they would need for their learning. Each student received a complete kit that included school bag, stationery and Geia Xara’s Student and Activity Book package. My class was made of students coming from various different countries who spoke different languages such as Somali, French, Arabic and English, so we mostly interacted with each other in English, with body language always coming into play.
At first they were quite reserved and did not talk much, but with some encouragement their participation and involvement in the lesson steadily and continuously increased. It was exhilarating to witness their thirst for knowledge along with their incredible interest and zeal in learning Greek, often bombarding me with questions they had gathered for even the smallest things. I was also particularly impressed with their maturity and the respect they exhibited to both me and each other. Furthermore, it was particularly gratifying for me to see them actively expressing their appreciation towards me as an individual and an educator as well as the work of the project as whole.
The programme concluded with an exam that all my students passed, and were awarded a diploma and a tablet at our last meeting, an emotional affair. But I will always remember and keep close to my heart the appreciation, respect, interest, thirst to learn these children showed throughout the lessons. My greatest reward will always be their comments in their evaluation forms, reading for example one of my students stating: “I learned so many new things, and I am proud of myself.” From my part, I would like to thank the team of Geia Xara for allowing me to be part of the programme, and I hope I have inspired these kids to continue learning Greek and continue their path towards integration.
The Programme Greek Language Program and Mediation Services for Minor Third-Country Nationals (TCNs) («Γεια Χαρά! ») is addressed to students attending a primary education class during the school year 2018-2019 and 2019-2020. The programme is being implemented by the Research Centre CARDET in cooperation with Frederick University and the Advisory Company INNOVADE, the Pedagogical Institute of Cyprus and Department of Primary Education. It is funded by the Migration and Asylum Fund for the Integration of the Republic of Cyprus. Project Code: CY/2018/AMIF/So2.NO2.1.4/3