What are contexts and issues that you work on? How are you using peace education to address these issues? What keeps you going?
The major division that exists in my context in Greece is that of the right and access to education between the local population and the refugees and migrants who have reached Greece in the last few years. This is, unfortunately, a division that can be observed in many places around the world. My work as Education Coordinator and Greece Programme Coordinator at Amala addresses precisely the need to close the gap of quality secondary education for displaced youth. On the ground, I work to facilitate the delivery of various courses to displaced learners in Athens. At the same time, I support the development and launching of the Amala Diploma Programme, which is the first international high school diploma specifically designed for displaced learners. Therefore, I feel that my efforts are both directed towards supporting young people in Greece to continue their education and to addressing an issue of global significance. The possibility of enacting long-lasting systemic change, together with working with such resilient, bright and energetic young people are definitely the most motivating aspects of my work.
What has been your most meaningful or noteworthy moment in your peace education career?
This is very hard to choose, so I will talk about one of the most touching ones which comes to my mind right now. When I was interning at the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR) in Cyprus, I also worked as a facilitator for the ‘Imagine’ Project. During a bi-communal training in the buffer zone with children about the age of 7-8, we were playing a game in which they had to run around until the music stopped and then jump 'on the rocks' (inside hula hoops) to survive. There was this one Greek-Cypriot boy who was undecided about which hula hoop to get into and everything seemed to be pretty full already. As he was looking around a bit in panic and embarrassment, a Turkish-Cypriot girl took him by the hand and pulled him in her overcrowded hula hoop. It was a very sweet moment and one of those that makes you realize how much potential there is in making sure that young people don't get trapped into narratives of hatred and othering.
How and why did you start working in peace education?
In the final year of my undergraduate degree in World Politics and Global Challenges, I researched teacher training for peace education in Cyprus. Following that, I took a gap year during which I facilitated some courses for Amala and did an internship at the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research. Being highly interested in education as a tool to address issues of social justice, I decided to stay in the field and pursue an MPhil. The dire situation in Greece in relation to access to education for displaced youth motivated me to come back to Greece and continue working with Amala on closing the gap of access to quality secondary education for displaced youth.