Free English lessons in Apokoronas

Apokoronas Welfare Organisation in collaboration with Learning Enterprises, an  organisation  whose mission is “to expand people’s horizons through conversation-based English language classes taught by American and international volunteers” are running a pilot programme in Apokoronas.

LE runs English teaching programmes in 12 counries in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America but this is the first time they have worked anywhere in Greece.

The lessons, aimed at both adults and children (over 5 )  run  from 11 July to  5 August   in primary schools in the villages of:

Embrosneros – 25 students

Vatoudiaris -21 students

Kalyves – 21 students

Vrises – 21 students

Nio Chorio – 12 students

On July 11th, over 100 students of Apokoronas attended the first day of school. But this was a new kind of school, the first day of Learning Enterprises’ free English classes in Greece. Smiles spread across their faces within the first ten minutes as they played active games, joked with their teachers, and most importantly—began to learn something new.
Learning Enterprises (“L.E.”) is an international non-profit that recruits bright, passionate American volunteers to teach in one of twelve countries around Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America. The volunteers are university students or recent graduates, who choose the unpaid program because they love teaching and learning about new cultures. Rather than staying in a hotel, we are hosted by generous community members, facilitating a meaningful cultural exchange. Every L.E. volunteer knows that English is a valuable skill in the modern world, and is trained on effective and creative teaching methods for children and adults.
L.E. is close to my heart, as I spent the summer of 2014 teaching with L.E. in Thailand. Coming from a Greek-American family with roots in Nippos, I knew my second home in Crete would benefit immensely from a similar program. My responsibilities as Program Director included selecting and training this year’s volunteers, but volunteers are only one aspect of a successful program; L.E. Crete only exists because I met members of the Apokoronas community who know how to make things happen. Niki Niolaki, Vice President of the Social Services Department, is serving tirelessly as the program’s Country Coordinator, and has been instrumental in securing classroom space and finding host families. With the help of these host families, Argiro Benaki, and the rest of the Social Services Department in Apokoroas, Niki and I transformed an idea into reality. Now that teaching is well underway we are thrilled, and even looking forward to what next year might bring.
Thanks to koinofelis dedication, we were able to renovate a schoolhouse in Vatouthiaris that has not been in use for over twenty years. Here, 21 students listen respectfully to Teacher Haley every morning, Monday through Friday. Laughing, they rise from their seats to practice action verbs like “run,” “jump,” and “dance” around the classroom. Haley Broder, who says her students are “thirsty to learn,” and always eager to show her a successfully completed assignment, also teaches evening classes in Embrosneros , where she has 25 students. Lila Murphy teaches 22 in Vryses, Hailey Cohen has 12 students in Neo Horio, and Tiasha Fernando has 25 students in Kalyves. You may run into them in their respective villages—that is, when they are not busy with their lessons!
Our L.E. volunteers have much more teaching—and learning—to do in Crete. Support for our program has been wonderful, thanks to Koinofelis epixeirhsh and other inspiring locals coming together. On behalf of my volunteers and Learning Enterprises, thank you—and see you in class.

Anna-Bella Sicilia
Crete Program Director