My name is Smaro Makropoulou and I am 24 years-old. The last 5 months I am working voluntary at the Press Office of SolidarityNow in Thessaloniki. I studied Journalism in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The communication of the refugee crisis became part of my academic interests. When I finished my BA, I started my MA in Crisis Journalism, where I studied the media coverage on the refugee crisis.
I thought volunteering in a Non-Governmental Organization would be a good chance to familiarize myself with the refugee crisis. I would be able to learn about the needs and the integration of this population, as well as the communication of the refugee crisis. What I didn’t know then, was that I would get much more out of this work experience. A friend o mine, who worked as a teacher at SolidarityNow’s Blue Refugee Center in Thessaloniki, spoke to me about the organization and it’s activities.
I decided to communicate with SolidarityNow’s Program Manager (Volunteers). I expressed her my interest in volunteering. I was surprised when the Head of Communications, Sophia Ioannou, contacted my directly and asked for a meeting. She introduced me to the organization’s Press & Event Officer -Northern Greece, Eleni Stamatoukou, with whom I have since started a very interesting collaboration.
Helping Eleni with the media, I found what I was looking for: knowledge. I have never done this work before and it took me a while to adjust to the new environment. However, I gained a lot of knowledge. I learnt that refugee crisis requires a communication strategy. Also I was trained to report appropriately on this issue.
I have learned so much more than I expected in SolidarityNow. I met passionate people, who make a positive change at people’s lives. Also, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with beneficiaries from different countries. I believe that cultural exchange experience has an important impact on people.
My thirst of knowledge, and my tendency to help others led me to SolidarityNow. Refugee crisis is understood differently by the people. There are some things you will never understand until you experience them yourself. The human stories I have heard and the personal contact with the people offered me a good opportunity to expand my knowledge and develop new skills.
Unfortunately, my collaboration with SolidarityNow ends. I have decided to choose a new career path. I wish to collaborate again with the organization, under different circumstances. I would like to thank Eleni, for the time she has dedicated to me.