INTERNATIONAL TEACHER’S DAY_5 OCTOBER
“Education will help them have a better life”
Chrysa Zizopoulou, teacher, Integration Learning Center, Thessaloniki
In one of the classrooms of SolidarityNow’s Integration Learning Center (ILC) in Thessaloniki, 33-year-old Chryssa Zizopoulou, language professor, teaches Greek to recognized adult refugees. Due to the pandemic the number of students in the class is now limited. Chryssa started working at the Center in February 2020 and she is responsible of the A1 class, for people who are learning Greek, as well as for illiterate persons.
We talk with Chryssa about the challenges she is called to face in her work. Men and women aged 19 to 48 years old from different countries, most of them parents, who have not any connection with the learning process – these are her students. “Adult students, compared to minors, are stiffer, they have a sense of shame, they have difficulties to open up. However, they are more consistent in their obligations. On the contrary, children create a social circle easily and as a result they practice Greek more“, Chryssa explains. Teaching adults, especially refugees, in addition to challenges, has many pleasant surprises. Chryssa tells us about the strong will of a single parent woman to learn Greek, as she comes to the class with her 2-year-old daughter. Her classmates without any resentment have welcomed her and her child. Besides that, another man who is illiterate has managed after a lot of effort to read the street signs, and the product labels in the supermarket.
“I love this job. When I’m in the classroom I feel a sense of belonging. And then the real reward is when you see the progress of these people, who in a short time articulate their first words. You build real relationships with these people,” Chrysa tells us and adds, “what I wish them is to understand how important education is for themselves and their children. Education will help them have a better life”. As for her fellow teachers, she would like to remind them “not to lose their motive and not to stop having expectations; do not be disappointed because the obstacles are many. They must have empathy, which is necessary in the classroom”.
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).