A morning at the University of Athens

On Friday 26th May 2017, the newspaper team of “Migratory Birds” visited the Department of Early Childhood Education of the University of Athens, in order to present our efforts at publishing, to speak with students and exchange views. This was part of the course entitled “Educational interventions in open settings: An analysis of activities for child refugees and vulnerable social groups”, taught by Mrs Alexandra Androussou.

Coming into contact with students of a Greek university, entering their classrooms and joining their lessons was a novel experience for us. The experience must have been equally novel for the university students. They wrote to us straight after our meeting and said the following:

“When we first came face to face with the girls we felt awkward (…) We thought they would only talk about the newspaper and that they wouldn’t share their emotionally-charged personal experiences with us. Their descriptions of what they went through and what they are still going through moved us, as did the way they were given the opportunity to be ‘heard’ through the newspaper. We felt ungrateful because we are always complaining about insignificant matters, while there are so many major things that can happen in someone’s life, as happened to the girls. (…) We would like more people to hear about the efforts of the ‘Network’ and about the experiences and opinions of these girls, so that they can see reality through their eyes.
We really enjoyed having the opportunity to be photographed together and to come into close contact with them. We liked the fact that they asked us for our views on the subject of refugees and we would very much like to have the opportunity to meet again.
Those few moments spent talking with you brought us closer to you; we could feel the pain caused by what you are going through. To be more precise, we actually saw it in front of us: the moment you became tearful as you spoke about your experiences and your dreams. What impressed us was the fact that although you have been through some terrible, tough times, not in keeping with your age, which is the age of hope and dreams, you are still striving for a better future and you do not hesitate to express your feelings and your dreams by writing and publishing this newspaper.
In this newspaper, which we really did read after our meeting, you speak of your situation and your life in a very realistic and deeply moving way. You should know that it is in no way inferior to any other newspaper. It is easy to read and everything you write is interesting. We feel for you, it’s as if we are listening to the pain of friends and we can now see the refugee situation from the other side, from the point of view of the people who are living through it. There are certain things and certain circumstances that we can no longer doubt. Your daily life unfolds before our eyes, raw, tough, just as it is.
Thank you for meeting with us. It was a lovely experience. If only we had met under other circumstances, able to talk about happy things and about our dreams. If only your tears that day had been tears of joy and not of sorrow. Please don’t ever lose your hope, never stop dreaming, because those things are what will give you the strength to carry on.”

At the end of our meeting, just before we left the university building, one of the students called Simpel, shared the following sentence with us:

“When I was born I was taught two words… Win-lose! I chose the first. Life gave me the second. I thank God for teaching me a third: aspire!”

We would like to thank the following students for writing about their impressions: Nikoletta Athanasopoulou, Stelios Karayiannis, Simbel Memet, Eleni Stamatakou, Marouso Fournistaki, Despina Ayianozoglou, Kalliopi Anastsiou, Theologia Amatidi, Panayiota Kremmida, Eleni Mariolea-Bourolia.

This article was originally published in the third issue of ‘Migratory Birds’. The third issue of ‘Migratory Birds’ was produced by the Network for Children’s Rights, with support from UNICEF and the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operation and the Foreign Federal Office of Germany, and published in Greece’s Efsyn newspaper on September 30, 2017.

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Please contact the teenage teams of the newspaper “Migratory Birds” and the web radio “Dandelion” of the Network for Children’s Rights by sending an email to migratorybirds@ddp.gr or by calling 00 30 210 88 46 590.

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