The quarantine period was quite difficult for all of us. For me, not having classes and any contact with my students was an unprecedented condition as it was the first time I wouldn’t be able to meet them for a long time. I was constantly thinking about them and I was worried about how they might experience quarantine and restrictions both inside and outside the refugee site, where they live.
I was worried about them for not being able to go to school and about the difficulties they would face by “Staying Home”, where so many other people live. My need to feel close to them came into conflict with the need to respect the new rules.
After a few days, I had to visit to the site, and while the measures of social exclusion were in force, I faced a big challenge. Ten of my students were playing carefree, but when they saw me, they ran over me wanting to hug me. I felt that our relationship had not changed and that they had not forgotten me. I wanted to run to them too. I wanted to give them a huge hug, as we used to do. But I knew that this could not happen. I immediately had to come up with something that would prevent our physical contact. I had to not panic, not to disappoint them and not to take the joy and excitement away from them.
Without knowing why, subconsciously, I wanted and had to, avoid any contact with them for the protection of all of us; at the same time, I wanted to express my joy for seeing them again. So, I began to kinda “sing” and “dance”, actually it was something between dancing and martial arts. Fortunately, everything went well. The children started to imitate my movements, maintaining the required distances while at the same time we were all happy, having fun and expressing our joy for our meeting. We bubbled over with joy and even in this way we managed to get closer. We became one again.
My name is Konstantinos Kasampalis, I am a Professor of Mathematics and Science at the Serres Open Accommodation Center for Refugees. I am working at the “Child & Family Support Hubs” project, which is implemented by SolidarityNow with the support of UNICEF and IOM Greece and funded by the European Commission.