A day at the Acropolis Museum together with refugees

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A day at the museum 

by Chiara-Lou Parriaud

On the 18th of June 2021, residents of the Welcommon Hostel and volunteers went to visit the Acropolis Museum, the exceptional sanctuary of Greek ancient artefacts found on the grounds of the Acropolis. Children and adults alike were eager to discover and understand the Ancient Greek history that has shaped the face of their city of residence. 

After a long walk under the blazing hellenic sun from Kapodistriou street to Dionysiou Areopagitou street, the group finally reached its destination. We were instantly drawn to the large glass panes of the museum that reflected the white columns of the Acropolis, the modern structure contrasting heavily with the Antique wonders the building contained. The children ran around and played outside the facility, marvelling at the ruins of an ancient Athenian neighborhood that were underneath the glass floor on which they stood. 

The “Welcommon team” at the Acropolis Museum – Children and volunteers absorbed in the contemplation of the Athenian ruins. 

In the museum, each individual gazed at the archeological wonders of its liking. While some observed the ancient sculptures, others wondered at the ancient greek inscriptions on the marble steles. Children were fascinated by several models of the Acropolis over the years built for the purpose of the exhibition, the ancient citadel changing its outlook a myriad of times from the 5th century BC to today, going from a residence for kings, to a mythical place for the celebration of gods to a tourist attraction. Imagining a distant Athens populated by a different society with customs at odds with our contemporary times seemed to highly intrigue them. The mothers of the families took an incalculable amount of pictures of the superb view of the Acropolis, of the museum and of their children, all of which will serve as beautiful memories of this particular day. 

After two hours of strolling through rows of magnificent remnants of Antiquity, our group emerged from the museum with sparkles in our eyes, full of new knowledge on the wonders of the previous Greek centuries. No matter the age or the nationality, each individual thoroughly enjoyed this cultural outing, which is a testimony to the social and cultural atmosphere of the Welcommon Hostel, as residents and volunteers alike learned, connected and got inspired together, as a community. 

Here is what some of the residents had to say about their day at the museum. 

I really enjoyed going to the museum. It’s a good place for me to learn and I got to learn from the past.”

I was fascinated by the Greek mythological scenes that were depicted onto the marbled statues. Everyone should try to get familiar with these very interesting aspects of history. I was also intrigued by the story behind the construction of the monumental Parthenon, and the backstory behind the stones used to build the temple as well as the statues. I learned a lot, and I would love to go again.”’

I had already been to the museum, but it was very nice to go with everyone from the Hostel – it’s always nicer to go with friends and as a community.” 

Anemos Anenosis, the social cooperative and all the Welcommon Team would especially like to thank the Acropolis Museum’s president and staff members for their cooperation in the organisation of this special day. 

Lisa W., one of our volunteers: “It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever made”

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Hello, I am Lisa

I was volunteering with Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal at the Welcommon Hostel in Athens, from the beginning of January to the end of June 2021.

It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever made. I think I will never forget the time in the hostel. I learned so much and my experience changed me in a very positive way. I learned a lot and my point of view changed in so many things! I met so many interesting people from different countries, different cultures and they all had different stories. We lived together, cooked together, laughed together and it felt like living in a big family. I think in this time I lost any kind of prejudice I’ve ever had before!

My two main Jobs where giving English and German lessons.

In the beginning it was pretty hard for me to stand in front of a group of people and to teach them a new language and I realized that it takes a lot of confidence. But after a while I got used to this new „teacher“ position and I started having fun giving lessons.

In the German lessons we did a lot of grammar work and it was a really new experience for me to teach my own mother language. I never realized before how tricky the German language can be and I think even me I learned a lot of new things about my language while teaching it.

A good thing was that all my German students where able to speak English so we had a good way to communicate with each other.

The situation in the english lesson was totally different because most of the time I didn’t had a language in common with my students. But I used a lot of pictures and body language and so we managed the communication most of the time pretty well. The main topics in my English lessons where vocabularies and dialogues. I tried to teach them the most important communication skills like for example asking for the bus station or calling a doctor.

Another activity I was doing was the „women’s sport class“. When I arrived at the hostel there was already a normal sports class, but I realized, that I never saw any women participating in this class. So I decided to start a sport class JUST for women and girls. I think that many women where very happy about this offer, because of cultural reasons most of them didn’t feel comfortable to do sport in front of men. In our sport class we did a lot of fitness, yoga and also dancing and we had a lot of fun together. I think that doing sport and being active is something really important if you are in a difficult live situation and I had the feeling that doing sport was very helpful for a lot of the women in the hostel. 

In the afternoon when the classes were finished, we used to some activity with the kids of hostel.

In winter we did a lot of different group games inside and when the weather became better we used to go with the kids to a playground in the neighborhood. I had a lot of fun playing with the kids and it was a really good experience having responsibility for a group of children.

Also part of the work in the hostel was to support our receptionists. Usually I worked volunteering three times six hours per week at the reception of our hostel. The work at the reception included the cleaning of the entrance room and the bar, giving hygiene articles to our residents and being responsible for our laundry room. This part of the work was a bit different to the other activities but I also enjoined because working at the reception means to have a lot of interactions with the residents (almost all of them refugees at the moment) and it also shows you what it means to work in a hostel or hotel.

Aside of all these things our volunteer group organized a couple of group activities that should bring all the residents of the hostel together. We did for example a cooking evening where we ate together and everybody was cooking his/her traditional food. Or a summer party where we danced together and learned different cultural dances. We also went to the beach with some residents and made cinema evenings in our backyard. It was a really feeling to see everybody coming together and having fun, no matter where they come from, what they believed in or which language they were speaking.

I think I will never forget the time in the hostel. I learned so much and my experience changed me in a very positive way.

Lisa Wittich

Ines: Volunteering in the Welcommon Hostel with Wind of Renewal for Social and Green Innovation

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Volunteering in the Welcommon Hostel with Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal for Social and Green Innovation
– Volunteer from October 2020 to March 2021

My name is Inès Doumandji. I am a 22years old French girl, and I studied Psychology. After the end of my bachelor, I decided to take a year off studies to focus on what I really want to do after my Master: working with refugees.

Since I cannot work as a psychologist for refugees yet, I still decided to start this crazy adventure in the social environment by volunteering in Greece with refugees. I found Anemos Ananeosis and the Welcommon Hostel on the website Workaway and I thought that it was the perfect opportunity for me to participate in a European Solidarity Corps project: I get to live for free in the hostel with the migrants in exchange of sharing what I can with them and learning so much from them participating in the European Solidarity Corps “Green Social Innovation for young persons” implemented by Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal.

I started volunteering in the project in the very beginning of October 2020 and I stopped in March 2021. Those 6 months felt like 2. I did not plan on staying that long there, but I got caught by the beauty of the place. Anemos Ananeosis and the Welcommon Hostel have beautiful projects about social and environmental impact that follow my principles and made me feel like I have my place here.

At the beginning I started exclusively teaching German and English to refugees not living in the hostel, and just visiting for the classes. But when Covid-19 hit harder, the restrictions became stricter and we could not welcome people from outside of the hostel anymore, so we decided to teach to the residents.

After a while, different activities were added to the German and English classes. Because of lockdown, the need that we, as volunteers had, and that the residents (almost all refugees) had to take part of more different activities inside of the hostel grew. That is when we created the sport classes, and the various activities like IT class, activities with children (games in English mostly), and games with adults! Our schedule became quite busy but also more diverse and it was very interesting.

After a while, we also decided to take part of the work that needs to be done at the reception as all the residents were more or less homeless refugees. We were all together doing different things for the empowerment of the hosted families and their social inclusion based on a very innovative methods!

The volunteers participating in A2 activities, organized a lot of different projects, a week about environment where we talked about recycling, consuming reasonably, taking care of our planet.

A beauty activity that women could join, where Syrian, Kurdish, Cameroons, Afghan, French, German, Italian and Belgian women joined together to have some self-care time which was also a lot of fun.

We also created some games in the hostel with pictures, where two teams were fighting to find where the pictures were taken in the hostel… that was all a lot of fun.

But this is not all. The things that I will mostly remember about these 6 months is the love that children gave me, all the drawings that I will bring back to France in my suitcase, the weird ways of communicating that we end up developing to be able to understand each other, the delicious meals from all around the world that people cooked and invited me to try, all the laughter, all the time google translation saved or failed us etc…

I would recommend this experience to anyone, I arrived this hostel way younger in my mind than I will leave it, that is for sure !