Integration of the refugees-the second visit in Heraklion, Greece
HERAKLION EXCHANGE HIGHLIGHTS
by the Bulgarian group – Valeria Zheleva, Sofia Dyakova, Mila Stoeva, Ralitsa Haldarova, Nasko Hanford, Martin Angelov
On 14.03 we departed from Stara Zagora at 13:00. We traveled for 3 hours and made our first video vlog in the bus. When we arrived in Sofia we took the subway.In the airport everything went smoothly and at 19:30 we were already on board. While waiting for our departure some of us fell asleep. When we woke up we were in Athens. Although we had to change flights, no оne was nervous and we had no problems. We arrived in Crete on time and our partners and their families took us from the airport.
On the second day of our stay in Heraklion we met at the school with the other participants from the Erasmus project. Every country had prepared a presentation in advance on the topic “The integration of refugees”. We started with some ice-breaking activities (we made a circle and everyone told their names and we described ourselves with a word only. We got into six groups to make posters using pictures of the refugees’ life in a creative way. We tried to express our feelings through the photos,quotes, words such as: anxiety, chaos, danger, threat, hope, help, support, etc. Then we stuck stud them on the wall as a Reading gallery for everyone to study.
In the morning we played a game that was called “Treasure Hunt”. We got in groups and we had to visit a lot of sights in the city. There was a guide at every place who gave us information about the the sights and asked us questions about the previous one. We saw a lot : The Cathedral of St. Minas, Morozini Fountain (The lions), The Castle of Candia, which is located on the beach, etc. After the “hunt” we visited the archaeological museum of Crete. There were interesting, centuries-old exhibits.
On Monday we visited a refugee camp for unaccompanied minors in the village of Anogeia, high in the mountains. We were surprised to see that most of them are between 16 and 20. The life standard in the center is high and better than what we expected. There were four groups, working on different tasks and the boys worked with us. The first group learned different dances from the countries, the participants in the project and the refugees come from. Some drew specific for their country symbols, others devised stories, using key words and still others cooked typical dishes. A few students talked with one of the refugees (the only one who could speak English) and heard his story. It was really ineteresting to understand where he came from, how he lived there, how he finds his new life and what his plans for the future are. We saw a completely different point of view because it’s not the same when you hear the story from a person who has experienced it himself. The psychologist of the centre, shared some information about its origins and the refugees’ life in general . She told us some interesting facts such as what the price that the refugees pay to the traffickers in order to come to Europe is, what the attitude of the villagers to them is or how the boys easily intigrate in the new environment. After the visit to the cetre, we travelled to a small touristic town, where we went for a walk and enjoyed the huge palm trees and the beautiful beaches. The day was full of extreme emotions, we learned a lot: how to be more accepting, open-minded and how to overcome more easily our differences.
An enriching and touching experience!
Today we had a really long day and we did some interesting work. In the morning we went to school and worked in pairs, preparing questions about the refugees’ difficulties for the interview to take place later. Representatives from different organisations who work with the refugees in Crete presented what they do and shared with us thought-provoking information. There were two Greek language teachers who work with the refugees. One of them told us that language is the most important part for integrating people and invited us to play a game. We had to stand in a line , one behind another, and to say a word in our mother tongue to the person next to us. Then we heard how differently each of us pronounce the word.
Today is our last day before our departure to Bulgaria and it was full of all kinds of emotions: we laughed, we cried… In the morning we visited the Palace of Knossos, the residence of King Minos-the beginning of the Minoan civilisation. We were amazed to see how developed the civilisation was. We learned how they lived, what their mentality was and other interesting facts about their life. In the afternoon we worked in two groups: one for editing the video,”Guide for refugees in Crete”-which is our final product of all the work we had done during the week and another working on each day’s presentations. We went to a cafè with our teachers, where we worked hard and enjoyed as a reward a rich chocolate cake. Everyone was looking forward to the farewell party. We had a good time there; first the teams of each country shared their thanks, experiences, feelings, memories, thoughts and something they had learned both about themselves and the other countries. After presenting a small part of the video we had created, the real party began. There was a lot of tasty food, which our friends, the Greeks, cooked for us with lots of love. We danced, enjoyed each other’s company and took some awesome photos to remember the night and all the friends we worked with during that whole week.
An exciting and memorable night!
This is the last day in Heraklion. We packed our luggage and went to the airport. We didn’t want to go back to Bulgaria. We said goodbye to all our partners and took a lot of photos. Not only were our partners at the airport but some of their parents came, too. There were tears when we hugged and kissed goodbye. We want to meet in the summer again. We have promised to keep in touch with them. We were like a big family. We have already started missing them. We landed in Sofia at 7p.m. and at 11 p.m we arrived in Stara Zagora. This was the longest and the saddest day ever. A big ‘thank you’ to everyone who had helped this happen