A week with Ankaa

I came to Athens as a volunteer teacher at the Ankaa project https://www.ankaaproject.org. There are many reasons why I chose to come here, some of which I might explore in future posts – for the moment, suffice it to say I decided to come to Athens rather than Samos and I was pointed to Ankaa by someone I know. Look at the Ankaa website to learn more about their goals and aspirations.

My plan is to work here for 2 months, so I may be writing some different things at the end of this time; but, it seems worthwhile to reflect on the first week.

The biggest initial impression I get is how calm everything is compared with my experiences in Samos. As ever, there are many reasons for this, most of which I don’t really understand at the moment – it may be to do with lower levels of stress and uncertainty amongst the people here. Thats not to say there isn’t any but compared with Samos it’s less intense.

The project is in an industrial area about 30 mins walk from the city centre and 15 from the nearest metro (Kerameikos) and 5 mins from the bus. Its very close to the Eleonas camp, but people come here from all over the city.

I’m teaching an English (pre-beginners) class 4 days a week. 90 minute lessons. Most of the students are from Afghanistan and have Farsi as their first language alongside a couple of African students (I think all from Congo but not sure) who speak French. I’ve never taught at this level before but had a young Turkish English teacher in with me for the first couple of lessons and I learned a lot from her very quickly. The last two lessons I did this week seemed to go pretty well.

The students cover a wide age range but are still all younger than me 🙂 (like almost everyone on the planet). They’re all pretty enthusiastic, want to learn and challenge themselves.

My classes run from 12:30 till 14:00 which is nice because Ankaa serve lunch for everyone from 14:00 so there is an opportunity to sit down with the students and talk to them informally, out of the classroom.

I’ve also started an IT class twice a week. It has started up a bit slowly and was disrupted by strikes and bad weather, but hopefully will pick up. Again there is a lot of enthusiasm but there’s a big language barrier. I can deal with the French (one French speaker signed up so far) – but I think (hope) there is is guy joining the class with L1 Farsi but good English and is happy to help out. I’ve also got one of the Ankaa volunteers to agree to produce versions of written material in Farsi.

As the class develops we will find out really what the students want to learn about, but to get it started, I’m helping them learn how to use Trello and understand the value of getting organised, planning and tracking what you are doing.

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