I (Ludwig) arrived on Chios Island on the 15th of September. On arrival I got picked up by our Mentor Markus who drove me to the volunteer’s house. There I got a warm welcome from the other volunteers who were already there. In the first days our coordinator Dimitrios explained the project to me. Because of Corona I didn’t start with my work in the schools right away, so the schools could be sure I wouldn’t infect anybody. During my first days I did some maintenance work for the volunteer’s house like painting the walls. On Friday of my first week Dimitrios took me to the school where I would start to work the following Monday. There were two things different about my school than of the other volunteers’ school: First I would need to take the bus to my school and in the beginning I would work alone. But this had to wait because first was the weekend. There the other volunteers took me to the city of Chios, and I got a first impression of the life on the island. On Sunday we went to one of the few sand beaches on the island, to Karfas. Even though it was still 25°C outside, we were almost alone on the beach because Chios is not a very touristic island.
Monday was my first day in school. The headteacher showed me around in the school and introduced me the other teachers. From there on I started my work which is mostly helping the teachers with very mundane tasks like copying or cleaning the tables.
The next weeks my schoolwork got into a routine which is interrupted by the weekends where I would do different trips with the other volunteers. On my third weekend we went to play paintball in a small village. It was my first time playing paintball but it was a lot of fun and I would totally do it again.
Because the hosting organization owns a sailing boat, part of the project is to learn how to sail. So, one day our director called us and took me and another volunteer to the sailing boat. When we arrived at the boat, he explained us the basics of sailing and took us to the next island called Innoues where we had a coffee break before we would sail back.
When I (Simon) arrived on Chios island, on the 27th of September, I made pretty much the same experience as Ludwig. The other volunteers were very welcoming, on my second day I could go to school where I met the teachers and got introduced to the work by Ludwig. After school we usually have computer work, where we mostly write educational articles for the kids from Chios. We than upload those articles on the websites of our organization to make them accessible for everyone.
During my first two weeks I was often tired and exhausted, I think because of all those new impressions I have never experienced before, the environment I have not been used to and the language I could neither understand nor speak. But this got better very fast and especially the group activities during the weekend with the other volunteers helped me a lot to get familiar with this new life.
As already described, we went playing paintball which was an awesome experience, but we also regularly visited the city where we would play billard and bowling, beach volleyball, look through the thrift shop or just explore the many other shops and restaurants.
Sometimes we also went to other cities like Lagada and I especially remember our trip to Prigy. Pirgy is a small town in the south of Chios. We went there by Taxi and spent most of the day exploring the city, known for its unique black and white patterns on the walls of all houses. Afterwards, we walked from Pirgy to the sea where we visited the so-called black beach, a beach consisting of black stones only, where we swam in the clear water and played card games on the beach until the evening.
Another great thing about the island is the weather. While I heard from my friends in Germany that it was freezing cold, we had still more than 20 degrees Celsius and were able to enjoy the sun, lay on the beach and swim in the sea every day.
This went on until about the 16th of November when the government announced the total lockdown due to the escalating corona situation. Ever since, we are not allowed to go outside anymore except for visiting the doctor, the supermarket or for a bit of sport. The schools and shops are closed and we went over to six hours of computer work each day. In our free time we play a lot of Backgammon, Chess and card games, we acquire new talents, learn Greek and watch a lot of movies. I sometimes go on a walk to get some fresh air. This time is of course harder than our life before because there are less things to do outside and you must get along with having nearly nothing to do. But because we live with eight people in this house, there is always something happening and always people you can talk to. Anyway, we all hope that the lockdown will be over soon!
Ludwig & Simon
Image credits: Ludwig & Simon
Both volunteers are hosted on our project “Volunteers for a Green Future”, financed by Jugend für Europa and the European Solidarity Corps.