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The diary of Varvakeio

 

Concluding Remarks and Overall Impressions

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14/04/2024 – “Run To Excellence”

Diary 1

On Sunday, 14th of April 2024, our Erasmus team participated in an event on the mountain of Ymittos, where we were asked to be volunteers at a race called “Run to Excellence”. Our prime aim was to support all the runners who gathered in this beautiful location to run a 4 km route.

We got separated in teams and we were given some duties. One team asked to stay at the finish line to give the runners bottles of water. The runners were very grateful, when they were being given their bottles of water, as they really needed it after such a demanding run. Despite the fact that it was a simple task, we felt satisfaction watching them quenching their thirst.

The other teams were supposed to stand at some specific points, where each person should have a distance of 20 meters with each other, to cheer the runners. Upon arrival, each team began walking to their designated locations. The first team arrived at the finish line and started organizing the tables with the bottles of water. When they finished they took lots of pictures. Unexpectedly, two other teams, who were supposed to stay in the middle of the route, bumped into each other by mistake, so the teams mixed up the volunteers. One team had to walk until the finish line to take more volunteers, because they weren’t enough! When they took the volunteers, they returned in the middle of the route and were separated in distances of 20 meters with each other.

At 10:00 am the race started. All runners were really very excited. We all saw many friends of ours, we cheered the runners generally. By doing that we watched the runners’ moral to raise dramatically. In other words, when they thought they couldn’t make it, we helped them stand up and say “I can do it”. It was such a pleasure. After the race concluded, all participants, including runners, volunteers, and teachers, descended the mountain and gathered at the awards ceremony location, where the awards were given, distributed in three categories (children, students and adults). After the awards ceremony, we all left feeling happy and proud to have had the opportunity to experience such excitement in nature, surrounded by huge green areas and a fascinating view of the capital of Greece.

Overall, the experience was extraordinary for us and, despite the little tiredness we felt after the big distances we walked and the scorching sun hitting our heads, we would all be excited to do that again.


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Diary 2

On the 14th of April our team gathered at Ymittos mountain to volunteer at the 4km Run For Excellence organised by Varvakeio Model School. We were divided into several teams as volunteers were needed all along the route, either to hand out much needed water or simply to make sure that nobody fell or got injured.

One team volunteering at the top of the race had the privilege of enjoying some of the most spectacular views of the city from above. Their job was to hand out water and make sure the runners turned around. The race was not just 4km straight ahead, runners had to run 2km and then do the same route but from the opposite side. This was crucial as there was one runner who did not notice the cones we had placed and ran almost all the way down the hill. A student volunteer who saw this immediately told a teacher and saved the runner from getting lost.

Another team made sure that the runners were all going in the right direction so that they didn’t get lost and didn’t run the risk of being hit by other runners who weren’t in the race. Finally, the last team was stationed at the start/finish line of the race and as the runners made their way up the mountain, they prepared bananas and water to hand out at the finish.

The race started at 10.00am. The high school runners started first. After 5 minutes the middle school runners started. Then again after 5 minutes the other runners, parents and teachers started. At the end, 5 minutes after the last runners had started, anyone who just wanted to walk could do the 4km walk, but there was no walking race, so there were no walking winners. 

The race started at 10.00am. The high school runners started first. After 5 minutes the middle school runners started. Then again after 5 minutes the other runners, parents and teachers started. At the end, 5 minutes after the last runners had started, anyone who just wanted to walk could do the 4km walk, but there was no walking race, so there were no walking winners.

After all the runners had finished, the winners from the high schools were announced, then the middle schools and then the parents and teachers. At the end we all helped to clean up the litter in the forest as we wanted to leave no trace of ourselves in nature.

Overall, our experience was very constructive for every volunteer and runner. Our school’s team managed to overcome all the difficulties and make everyone’s experience better.

 

17/12/2023 – “Christmas Event for Seniors in collaboration with Prolepsis Institute”

Diary 1

It was a chilly Sunday noon when we went to celebrate Christmas with some elderly people in a nicely decorated restaurant called “La Soiree de Votanique” which had a very welcoming atmosphere. The event was organized by an organization called “Prolepsis”.

The Prolepsis Institute is a scientific non-profit organization active in the field of medical research, health promotion and medicine since 1990. The basic belief of the Institute is that health is a fundamental, non-negotiable good and an inalienable right of every human. Its mission is to respond to public health challenges by producing academic research and applying its results to both educational and humanitarian activities.

Their vision is a society that maintains and promotes physical and mental health and well-being equally, for all people, especially the most vulnerable, while respecting human freedom and protecting our planet for future generations.

Their mission is to research and to  develop science-based policies and programs, with the goal of promoting health, equal access to relevant services, and addressing health and humanitarian crises.

One of these programs is called “Friendship at every age” and focuses on elderly people who feel alone and isolated. Their goal is to develop friendships between these people and volunteers, from phone calls to participating in events with them. In this way, they feel active members of a community that cares about them, while they are activated intellectually and emotionally.

So, on the 17th of December we went to the restaurant “La Soiree de Votanique” which was hosting an event with Prolepsis. In this event we sang some traditional Christmas songs, like greek carols, for the elderly people. Also, we had a student playing the violin, accompanying the carols  and performing a solo and another two students with guitars accompanying the carols, who also performed a song at the end of the event. After singing, we had the chance to exchange a word or two with the people, as we were also responsible for the distribution of the present Prolepsis had prepared for the elderly people. After that it was time to eat and both us and the other people sat down to enjoy the Christmas spirit that was all around, and of course a plate of delicious food.

We believe that our contribution to the event truly helped bring an atmosphere of joy and festivity to the elderly and volunteers gathered in the restaurant. By singing the traditional Greek carols we reminded these people of their own childhoods and past memories when they were the ones knocking from door to door to sing the carols. It was an amazing experience.

Diary 2

On the 17th of December 2023 our Erasmus team had the opportunity to participate in a volunteering activity, in order to help elderly people who don’t have a family and live alone having a nice time and forget their problems and loneliness.

At first, we all gathered at a restaurant called ‘’La Soiree de Votanique’’ and sat all together in a room, different from the volunteers’ and the elderly people’s. We had been waiting for some time there, talking and having fun, until we were asked by our teachers to sing Christmas carols to the rest of the people in the restaurant. We did as we were asked, and some of our classmates played their musical instruments, such as the violin and guitars.

Afterward, we returned to our table and served ourselves food. We all found the food delicious and enjoyed our meal. As we were eating, a lady came towards our table and congratulated us for our participation. We thanked her and, when she left, our teachers informed us that she was a qualified and distinguished university professor in the field of medicine as well as the President of the Prolepsis Institute. We were all amazed and proud that such a distinguished woman congratulated us for what we had done. 

The last thing we were asked to do was to hand to each of them one paper bag with a gift in it, which was made by the organization. Each student was assigned to a table. When we were giving the presents to them, we also asked them about their childhood, their experiences from school and their interests. When we were about to leave the room, we wished them Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. A couple of minutes later, our parents came and picked us up.

In our opinion, it was a unique experience and was worth the time, as we were given the opportunity to cheer these people up and help them join the Christmas spirit. This is why we felt proud of ourselves and considered it a personal achievement. We applied the meaning of this time of year, which is to give joy, happiness, and an unforgettable time to other people.  

 

 

We wondered how the elderly felt during the Christmas event organized by the Prolepsis Institute, where we were volunteers. Since we couldn’t ask them directly, we thought it would be interesting to investigate this answer using an artificial intelligence application, after giving it the task of reading our diaries.

Here is the AI-generated answer that we got, in the form of an animation.

01/10/2023 – “Greece Race for the Cure”

Diary 1

On October 1st, 2023, our school’s Erasmus team participated as volunteers in the 15th “Greece Race for the Cure” organized by “Alma Zois” and “Think Pink.” The “Greece Race for the Cure” is a huge athletic event in which people participate in the 2km walk and the 5km run to raise money for women suffering from breast cancer. Our task there was to cheer on the people walking in the 2km walk to encourage them to keep walking for this noble purpose.

Initially, we gathered outside Zappeio and organized ourselves to be efficient and helpful. Then, we split into three groups and took positions where the coordinators directed us. We eagerly awaited the walkers, and upon their arrival, we were excited to discover a large number of people running for their friends or relatives, an equally significant number of women (and a few men) survivors walking proudly, and many people of different ages, including babies and elderly individuals! It was so crowded that we couldn’t estimate when the race would end. Naturally, everyone was delighted to see us there, and our cheerful mood inspired and motivated them greatly. Finally, after receiving food and refreshements from the coordinators, we returned to our starting point and waited to go on stage with the other volunteers. There, we received comments of appreciation and thanks by the organizing committee.

Afterward, everyone felt genuinely happy and productive. The best part was that while we were having fun, we also realized our responsibility for the future and learned that even a small action can help those in need and make a difference. In conclusion, besides being inspired to participate in even more similar volunteering activities, we aim to make today’s world a better place for posterity.

Diary 2

October 1, 2023, the day against breast cancer, we as volunteers participated in an event called “Race For The Cure”, regarding breast cancer. Breast cancer is a disease in which abnormal breast cells grow out of control and form tumors. If left unchecked, the tumors can spread throughout the body and become fatal. It is the most common cancer on the globe with above 300.000 diagnoses in the US every year. Also, a fact about breast cancer is that statistically, 1 in 2 women will develop it in their lifetime. Although, if diagnosed in the early stages, it can be nonfatal. 

“Race for the Cure” is an event hosted by the organization “Alma Zois”. “Alma Zois” was founded in 1988 by breast cancer survivors who aspired to offer support for dealing with their illness and achieving a better quality of life to other survivors. In the last 30+ years, the Association has grown and numbers more than 2000 survivor members and many associate (non-survivor) members. The organization aims to eliminate ignorance about breast cancer, raise awareness regarding preventibve measures anyone can take and provide support to every breast cancer patient in Greece. 

The event, as anyone can make out from its title, consists of races. The participants, consisting of both breast cancer survivors and individuals without the disease, have the opportunity to either walk 2 km or run the 5km race together, after contributing a small fee to the organization.

Our experience with the event consisted of this year’s volunteering activities. Once we reached our meeting point, we were given instructions from the various sponsors and speeches were given thanking the runners and volunteers for our participation. Afterwards we started heading towards our destination, from where we would cheer the runners. We stopped to write encouraging words on a poster for all the people battling breast cancer. We were later assigned to groups, and placed around the track in order to encourage runners to continue the race. We were given inflatable plastic sticks, which we used to create noise. After all runners had finished the race we returned back to the meeting point and heard speeches from various different cancer survivors and sponsors.

We felt extremely happy to have volunteered for the Race for the Cure. We were very proud because we managed to cheer on the runners and the women who survived breast cancer. We showed how much we supported those women and cheered them up. The joy we felt could not be described after all the amazing work we had done. We all agreed that it was a very important day and we all shared the same feeling of gladness and completion.

17/10/2023 – Estanys of Sils, Girona, Spain

Diary 1

Voters: Volunteers from Schools presented us a great variety of activities in our Student Exchange program. One of these volunteering activities let us “have a taste” of how it feels to be helpful while also having lots of fun. One of the activities that we engaged in really helped us understand what volunteering is all about, also reminding us the importance of teamwork, and we reported it in this diary.

Today we have had a fantastic experience at Estanys of Sils, in Girona, with Fundació Emys.

When we got there, a member of the foundation greeted us and explained to us what the activity was about and sorted us into groups.

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At the end of the breeding season, they check them and see if they need cleaning or repairing, and that’s what we helped with.

 

 

Unfortunately, in that area, birds have trouble birding their nests because the trees are too young and unstable, so the association built wooden boxes and hung them on trees as a sturdy and secure refuge.

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During the activity, we reported our work on a record sheet provided to us with the tools.

 

 

 

 

The foundation provided each group with a set of the necessary tools.

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17/10/2023 – Estanys of Sils, Girona, Spain

Diary 2

 

During our visit in Girona we had the opportunity to participate in a volunteering project, which took place in estanys de sils, a beautiful forest. In this project we collaborated with an association called “fundacio emys”, which aims to conserve Catalonian wildlife.

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For the activity, they divided us in six different groups which consisted of Greek, Italian and Spanish students. After giving us directions, the instructors showed us, by a demonstration, how to correctly do the work. Using the map and carrying the materials given, we set off to find our assigned nests.

When we finally located the nest we realised it had fallen on the ground. As a result after cleaning, sanitizing it and collecting samples we had to repair its metallic hook. It wasn´t easy, but by joining our forces we managed to add the new hook and eventually hang it on the tree once again.

 

Our task working with the foundation was to clean and repair if needed bird nests after the mating season. We also had to collect samples, like broken eggs and feathers found inside of the nests. These samples would later be analysed by experts to further their knowledge on bird behaviour.

 

The second nest was easier and we even found some eggs! Hanging it was a bit tricky but with team work we successfully managed to do it.

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Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.

Project number: 2022-1-ES01-KA220-SCH-000087095

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