Maria Ninou, teacher, Integration Learning Center, Ioannina
Αt the other end of the telephone, Maria Ninou, language teacher, talks about the Greek lessons she gives to recognized adult refugees, at SolidarityNow’s Integration Learning Center (ILC) in Ioannina. “I will not talk about the course context” she tells us at the beginning of our discussion; indeed she prefers to talk about her students, her favorite B1 class where people are preparing to take Greek language exams in mid-October and about the large number of students who were forced to drop out of school.
Maria started working at SolidarityNow in January 2020 and begun her first language courses just before the quarantine caused by the new coronavirus. The classes were “continued” through social networks, where teachers shared educational material with their students. After this difficult but at the same time creative period, students and teachers returned to the classrooms. There, however, the teachers confronted a harsh truth. “Students with great potential, who would have succeeded in the exams, left the country”, Maria stresses and adds “that discourages us“. On the other hand, there are students who did not leave, who stayed here and are preparing to take exams. They are 3 brothers from Syria, a boy and two girls, who are also studying at the vocational school, and who in a short period of time covered a large and quite difficult part of the exam material. “They have made an excessive effort not only now, but from the first day they came to Greece. They are very dutiful and have great will”.
What Maria likes most about her job is “to motivate my students not to give up,” while what frustrates her are “the dropouts”. She prefers to teach older students because there is another type of interaction. She tells us about one of her students, who is from Iraq and although he is very clever, he caused a lot of problems in the classroom with his behavior. “At the beginning he was disturbing us but has progressively changed; he has a tremendous development and he will definitely pass the A2 exam”, she notes. “What I wish for my students is to never stop trying and never feel alone. I want to tell my colleagues to do their job with love because students understand if you really care about them”, she concludes.
The HELIOS program
SolidarityNow in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and in the framework of the implementation of the HELIOS program organizes integration and information classes within its Integration Learning Centers established across Greece (Athens, Thessaloniki, Ioannina).
* SolidarityNow is a key implementing partner of the International Organization for Migration, in the framework of the “HELIOS” program, which is funded by the European Commission – Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME).
- Watch IOM’s new awareness campaign at the link below: