Avlona diaries

Diary by ELLEN KELLY —————————————————————->

I was delighted to be invited to attend the Greek mobility of the Partners in Crime Prevention project which took place on the 25th to the 29th of March 2015. The experience surpassed all my expectations. Granted, Avlona Prison was not a state of the art facility by any manner or means but the school itself was a real revelation. It was more the atmosphere that impressed me than the classrooms. The teachers were all so warm and genuine welcoming. The students were too. On the night before our first visit to the prison I was speaking to one young teacher who was worried that the students would be too shy to talk or interact with us. She needn’t have had any concerns on that front. After a short while the students and visitors were mingling very comfortably with each other.
Our first visit consisted of a programme where the project members were to be taught a new skill by the students of Avlona prison school. This was a terrific idea as immediately barriers were broken down as the ‘experts’ became the students and the ‘prisoners’ were in charge. This must have been a very empowering experience for the young men and you could see their confidence grow as they took control of their learners. I noted to myself that I must use this technique as a teaching tool in my classes more often because the potential for learning is terrific. You cannot teach a subject correctly unless you know the material inside out. Also the possibility for developing good communication skills and developing self confidence is great. The skills I learned in a format which consisted of four workshops were lino printing, Claymation, Greek dancing and soapmaking.
As well as learning new skills I was reminded how important kindness is when teaching, especially teaching vulnerable young men. The teachers showed great compassion to their students. In turn the students showed respect towards their teachers. I was also impressed at the level of discipline and structure that is involved in the Avlona prison school. Once again this is carried out in a caring manner. The students’ productivity is huge – this is evident in the artwork hanging on the walls of the school, the murals in the exercise yards and a very impressive looking newsletter.
We were treated to a look at a drama production that was in the last stages of rehearsal. This performance almost took my breath away altogether! As a prison drama teacher I know how hard it is to keep students motivated and committed the gruelling slog of rehearsals. It was obvious that these young men had put in many hours of practice. Their acting skills and dancing was practically at a professional level! I only wish that I had more time to talk to the drama teachers and ask them what their secret was.
The next learning curve for me was on the second morning when it was the turn of some of the project members’ turn to teach the students new skills. These skills included Painting a Poem, storytelling and hip hop dancing Barriers had been broken down the previous day so it seemed that everyone had great fun participating in one way or another. Once again I was helped by one of the young students in my efforts (and I do mean efforts!) to learn hip hop dancing. It reminds me that there are often no real experts in education and you can learn from all around you not just from the teachers.
As we were saying goodbye to the young men I got the impression they gained from our visit to their school but their gain was nothing compared to mine in so many ways. The teachers had obviously put in a lot of work preparing for our visit – Thank you so much for the enriching experience.

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

Diary by Nadja Raszewski & Daniela Grosset ——————————————————->

Conditions, heart, beautiful voice and unbelieveable taste experiences

Schlachthaus, installations, graffiti, extremely much Stacheldraht

only two people please …. wait!

Calimera

How long is the plastic chair hanging in the Stacheldraht?

Bob Marley, 2Pac, turtle,

but where is Che Guevara?

Inmates are singing and look out of their “windows”

Schlachthaus, Legebatterie, very slippery

Warmth, body, faszination, sadness, outlook, Sehnsucht, skin and Beruehrung.

Dont take fucking drugs … MOVE!

very small olive trees

WHAT? My grandmother is fifty.

Love, Happiness, irritation, openess,

a lot of respect.

THANK YOU!

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

Diary by Frans Damman  —————————————————————->

During the partner meeting in Greece we were visiting the youn offenders prison in Avlona about an hour drive from Athens. In the formal school of this prison we, as life long learning visitors, were introduced to young male offenders in the age of 18 – 22 years old.  While being introduced to the students, we experienced a whole range of different backgrounds. The school has more than 20 nationalities, 70% of the students is from outside Greece.

I spoke with guys from Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, Pakistan, Albania, Egypt, Lituania  and elsewhere..,

During the talks almost all of the young men, though being in a difficult situation like e.g. without official papers, wanted to stay or go further in Greece / Europe.

This in the back of our mind and at the same evening watching the TV to how negotiations between Greece and the rest of the European countries were proceeding. The new government in Greece applies for a different attitude towards this country and the situation it is in since the crisis.

In the bus on the road back from the prison with all of the life stories in mind, the partners of the European project started a discussion on Europe and what it stands for.

Is the idea of Europe bankrupt?

Should we go for a radical change?

Is there still something left of solidarity within EUROPE –  the NORTH and the SOUTH?

What should we vote for, if time and again it turnes out that a new government is not bringing THE solution but presents more of the old…?

According to me, this is exactly what Europe is about. The exchange possibilities provided by the EU,  to take part in the learning process of what we stand for. The agreement we made to disagree, and the need for unity in diversity.

We need different voices to make a move forward. And we do need to be willing to give up of some of our ‘ own identity’  to make it as Europeans.

And the reality in Europe, in countries like Italy, Spain and Greece were so many people from outside EU try to enter Europe.. these European cultural projects are of big urgency and of big value to keep up the connection of the different back grounds.

Like one of the partners from the southern European countries said; we need to prevent that I am feeling like a “ kind of third country”  meaning put outside of the EU. This in relation with the controversy relation between North and South.

Thinking of two persons:

  1. of what Rokas told us during the visit. Rokas is from Lithuania and a former student of the school in the prison and is nowadays a successful student Mathematics at University in Athens. Though not easy, he wants to stay in Greece because of what he went through.
  2. Of what Yassin told me during the Story Telling workshop; he dreams of a hoouse for his wife and future children. Initially it was meant to be in France or Italy. But now he decided it can be on Crete, because the climate and sea reminds him to his home town Sousse but at the same time this is on the other / the better side of the Mediterranean sea. A place he dreamed off

let us find a way to keep on building of a united Europe. And let us take the good work of the teachers of the school in prison in Avlona to be an example!!

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

Diary by Jan Melskens ——————————————————————————————>

The story of ex-inmate Rokas B from Lithouania touched me.

He was searching, got involved with fast money, got arrested and “dead”.

In prison he is re-born and found his way!

A very interesting story!

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

Diary by Adam Dabrowski, Cezary Mikolajewski and Marzena Mikolajewska ———–>

After long and tiring argument we have chosen to take part in Painting workshops prepared by our Dutch friends Ellen and Mirthe.  A difficult choice it was cause it was because we had to choose from 4 different ones.

12 young offenders took part in it. It was interesting to see them trying to do the first step. No one wanted to be first.

At the beginning Dutch teachers read a poem about their country. Next step was to translate it into greek, which was what our interpretor did. Participants were later asked to draw a painting based on their first thoughts connected with the poem. They gathered their thoughts and it turned out that there are about 20 words such as RIVER, SKY, FLOWERS, WINDMILL,  etc. written on the white board.

All the participants got their paintbrushes and other necessary painting materials. The only thing to be done was to start painting.

As the time was passing by we could observe growing willingness to take part in the project among the boys. The painting was becoming more interesting and it was amazing experience to see the boys being so focused and interested in the thing they were doing.

After the whole project was finished all participants presented their masterpiece. They were really proud of their work and we all could see that they feel appreciated.

For us (Polish Team) the most important will be the image of the focused boys’ faces- a visible sign that dutch teachers did great. As for the future, these workshops drew our attention so much that we are eager to conduct similar ones in Poland!

At the end of our visit at Avlona Prison we were taken to Prison’s theatre. We were allowed to watch prisoners’ rehearsal. After the performance we were at a loss of words. It was brilliant! Funny and entertaining.! The passion that actors presented was breathtaking.

Thank You for a wonderful experience!!!

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

Diary by Maria Joao Mota —————————————————————————->

GENEROSITY …

I feel blessed … not in a christian / catholic sense, but as a human being … Being able to share these days with these boys was intense, even been used to work in prisons, I still get touched by them (who’s them?!).

Today, in the workshop with Kiran was also important first to remember and then to share something in my storie of life that inspires me, I guess we sometimes forget that and when you have the chance to reflect and to express that, suddenly it becomes powerful in you again! It was in the school, when I was 15, that a teacher inspired me to what I am today, because she opened us for art and creativity, I wasnt raised with contact with art, so it was fundamental that moment , that woman. Today, when I shared this and looking around, seeing those boys, so young, I felt again that  we all can have those moments, and maybe those are the ones that change us, like Rocas told us in his presentation.

The moment serving time in prison should be a moment of great investment of the society, of all of us, and instead of walls we should have windows, doors … that open to another direction, that shows other things, that allow other experiences, that stimulates us, that challenges us to the unknown …  I felt that here, in these school, a “fishbowl of freedom” between these bars, and razor wire … full of smilles, color … maybe because of that the impact of entering the prison wings was so powerful … but again we found another “fishbowl” with the theater rehearsal, where I felt in Porto with our group of man … once again I get tears on my eyes (need to work on that 🙂

I feel lucky that I got the chance to meet all these people from different countries, and its great to feel our connection growing and growing every meeting and the things we’ve been learning and sharing together that really influences the work we are doing back in Porto …

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

Diary by Bárbara Parente ————————————->

Greece again! Different context.

Its to talk about art and education, two concepts that seems boring when you dont have the interest and the passion on that. Not my case, I got enthusiastic right away.

When I entered in a prison for the first time the feelings come in a different way. First of all is the curiosity and the shock of seeing walls, barres and razor wire so frequently and all together. The open spaces like yards are not so common. Although you can see them, in the case of the Avlona prison, painted with graffiti. This is nice because gives you the sensation of open space, it makes your mind goes away for a little bit. In contrast you have the other part of the white big walls with windows with barres and behind them there are the boys saying hi and goodbye at the same time.

To have an more deep opinion you have to talk with the people so it was what I did. It was easy to understand how enthusiastic they were also, they were seeing new people that are not in their normal context, people that were there for them and most of all where there to be with them. What the boys didnt know was that we were there to learn with them and not the otherwise.

Many topics could be spoken but they wanted always talk about the countries that we came from. They were always trying to found one connection or one reference of our country. I was also surprised for the amount of the nationalities that there are. Its about 20 nationalities that have to live and learn together.

That is a lesson to take … learn to live with the difference but most of all live with the singularity.

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

Diary by Abas – student ————————————->

I am Abas, a student in Avlonas school. On Thursday 26th and Friday 27th March our school hosted 20 teachers working in prisons in Holland, Ireland, Germany, Poland and Portugal and exchanged experiences with them.
Our task ( mine and my friend’s Asteris) was to show them how to make pure olive oil soap. We spoke about different things with our guests and we all enjoyed the process.
On the second day we participated in a creative group drawing based on a Dutch poem and it was much fun!
I’m glad I met these people and I would like to keep in touch with them, perhaps visit them in their countries.
I certainly enjoyed both days but I probably prefer the day I got to be a teacher, and not just any teacher, but as I was told, quite a good one!

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

Diary by Andi – student ————————————->

For about 2 weeks before 26th March I have been taking part in cultural programs held in our school.

Since I have a good sense of rhythm, I thought it was a good idea to go for the Greek traditional dancing program. I started by learning some dances, but learning how to teach them, preparing for the day Europeans would come.

They finally arrived; we were waiting for them in school, each one of us in the classroom destined to the activity he had chosen. There were 4 groups of 4-5 people from different countries, and I felt good seeing them. I smiled at those new faces, thinking they had come to see us, or perhaps to help us.

We welcomed and showed the first group into the dancing room. We had to teach them the “Ekareoteko”, which we had learned from our teacher. (We have the best teacher here, in our school, they help us a lot). We introduced ourselves and our teacher translated, since we don’t speak English. We started the dancing lesson: me as a teacher and the foreign teachers as my students. I was teaching them the “Ekareoteko” step by step and they were smiling, showing great interest in our traditional dances. I realized that it is hard to be a teacher, you need a lot of energy, I was out of breath.

The first group managed to learn the dance and I went on with the other groups. It felt good teaching, we were teasing each other, they didn’t stop smiling…It didn’t feel like being in prison, I forgot all about it, I was enjoying  that moment full of smiling, happy faces. I felt free next to them and to my teachers. They gave me the power to hang on in this awful place. It was something different from what we normally do each day and it certainly did us good.

I had a great time this first day but unfortunately it came to an end. We had to return to our cell and to wait impatiently for the next day.

Friday, 27th March.

The foreigners taught us hip-hop today. We arrived in school today feeling more familiar, closer to them. We talked a lot, we laughed a lot, one of them even wanted to learn how to play with my “beglere” and she did!

Anyway, we had a wonderful time; we had forgotten about our problems, about prison, we were happy, as if we were in a school outside the prison.

I didn’t want all this to end, I didn’t want our guests to leave, because, as I said before, I’d felt a free person.

Today, 1st April, we are still happy, we are still feeling their presence, we still feel free, and they’re still in our minds. We thank them for coming here and making us feel that way. I hope they will come again during my stay here.

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

Diary by Tom Magill ————————————->

Notes meeting Partners in Crime Prevention – Avlona Athens Greece

2nd Avlona Gymnasium & Lyceum Classes in the Avlona Prison for Young Offenders

March 2015

Wednesday 25, Thursday 26, Friday 27, Saturday 28 (and Sunday 29)

Present are:

GR:      APMY –  Ioannis Papadimitriou (IP), Petros Damianos (PD), Anastasia Peppa (AP), Marilena Petrogianni (MP), Vasiliki Douzeni (VZ), Ioanna Karathanou (IK)  – and all the other prison school teachers.

PL:       Plockie Centrum Edukacyjne – Adam Dabrowski (AD ), Marzena Mikolajewska  (MZ) Cezary Mikolajewski (CM)

UK:       ESC – Tom Magill (TM), Michael Love (ML)

IR:        Prison Education Service – Veronica Hoen (VH), Ellen Kelly (EK), Una Gildea (UG)

PT:       PELE – Maria Joᾶo Mota (MJM), Bárbara Parente (BP)

NL:       YiP – Jairi Terpstra (JT), Kiran Michael Shriemisier (KMS)

NL:       PI Vught / Changes & Chances – Mirthe Wacki (MW), Ellen Tapia (ET), Jan Melskens (JM), Erica Kubic (EK),  Ed Santman (ES), Frans Damman (FD)

Extra guests learners: Nadja Raszewski and Dani Grosset from ‘Tanz Tagente’ Berlin Germany, Tandem partners of  C&C

Day 1 Wednesday 25 March ML and TM arrived at the Athens Gate Hotel mid afternoon. Later we met the rest of the participants for dinner at “Mani Mani”. Frans talked about how culture was uses as a ‘survival tool’ by a Dutch group during the war to promote freedom, friendship and culture. I met Nadja Raszewski and Dani Grosset from ‘Tanz Tagente’ Berlin Germany and we discussed the possibility of screening Mickey B in a German prison, as the film is already translated into German.

Day 2 Thursday 26 March 08.15hrs the bus brings us to Avlona, about more than an hour drive from the centre of Athens.

09.30 whole day programme at 2nd Avlona Gymnasium & Lyceum Classes in the Avlona Prison for Young Offenders.

At the prison we were welcomed and introduced to the director and a public attorney present at the school.

The prison incarcerates young male offenders (18 – 22 years old) from approximately 20 different nationalities. This struck me as a real challenge – to deal with that many different languages. Perhaps the idea of turning the prison into a school/educational institution was born from the necessity of dealing with so many different needs.

We split into four groups and then rotated around the four workshops that the students facilitated during the morning. This was a really good way to meet the students and interact with them. The workshops were:

  1. Soap making,
  2. Claymation – soap opera,
  3. Classical Greek dancing,
  4. Etching / linoleum

Session 1 ML and I learned how to make soap with olive oil, hot water and chemicals.  It was really practical and the soap can be used in the prison.

Session 2 Next we did the animation workshop making clay animals. We then filmed the movements and played it back. We made a snake that chased a chicken and then the cat saw the snake coming out of the TV and was afraid. It was very funny and it really relaxed everyone.

Session 3 We learned two Greek traditional dances and danced around in a circle with our hands on each others’ shoulders. The students were very patient with us and with how long we took to learn the steps and the moves!

Session 4 next was the engraving workshop. We used a tool to cut patterns on linoleum.

We had lunch outside the prison.

First presentation by Ioannis (IP) ARMY is a formal school presenting both primary school and a secondary school lyceum / gymnasium. The curriculum is the same as it is presented on regular schools outside prison. A formal school means also it belongs to the Ministry of Education.

The history goes back to 1994 when the school stared as a voluntary effort. Ioannis Papadimitriou (IP) and Petros Damianos (PD) are two of the initial founding fathers of this school.  It is since 2000 that ARMY is the first high school in prison. If one gets out of this prison, the person can continue his education at the same level at school outside.

First meeting after lunch was a presentation about the school. The school offers both primary and secondary educational opportunities. Volunteers started the school in 1994. In 2000 it became the first high school in Greece and in 2003 the Gymnasium name was acquired.

Attendance at the school is not mandatory but those attending get points, which lead to time off their sentences. The school has a newspaper – Trying for Tomorrow, and local university student’s come in to help with it. The university also provide student artists to work on the graffiti project in the prison yard – to brighten the prison. The criminology department at Athens University also has strong links with the prison. There is also collaboration with the National Museum on the Movable Barres project 2010.

Presentation 2.  The 2nd speaker of this day: prof dr Christina Zarafonitou, explains why they have set up a collaboration between the MA Criminology at Panteion University Athens and 2nd Avlona Gymnasium & Lyceum Classes in the Avlona Prison for Young Offenders.

The school leaves students with a taste of freedom – a fishbowl with fresh air.

Third presentation by Rokas ex-student of 2nd Avlona Gymnasium & Lyceum Classes in the Avlona Prison for Young Offenders.  A presentation about TURNING POINTS: ‘Who was I?’  I decided to make the best of my time here. The judge could control the amount of time but not how I could spend my time.

‘I tried to find myself again, through the arts, drawing, learning to paint and learning to play drums. I played sports, learned how to play chess. Freedom is a choice. I also joined the theatre group and helped with the Graffiti project. I started to look at life differently. I was escaping from the prison. I am now in year two at Athens University studying applied maths and physics. I exhibited work at the National museum of modern art in 2013. Now I see differently from where I am. I want to help others. The urge to create has stayed with me.’

The feeling in the school is relaxed and informal. The young people are treated   as human beings and they can battle against low self-esteem and lack of literacy.       Our prison system has much more resources than the Greeks. Yet Despite the          lack of             resources in Greece they are doing more with it than we are in the UK.

Day 3 Friday 27 March

During the morning, we have workshops together with the students, this time presented and organised by the PICP partners:

  1. Story telling – workshop by Kiran Michael Shriemisier (KMS)
  2. Music – workshop by Ed Santman (ES)
  3. Painting a Poem – workshop by Mirthe Wacki (MW) and Ellen Tapia (ET)
  4. Dance – workshop by Nadja Raszewski (NR) and Dani Grosset (DG)

At Workshop Story telling, Kiran gives an introduction by telling about his personal life, where he grew up and what he is doing.

Kiran encourages the group to relax by doing a breathing exercise together. We also share a contract of intimacy through a hug.

Kiran explains we all are storytellers in the end.  A translator is needed because the group of participants consists of several nationalities. Kiran creates the intimacy needed within the room to be able to listen and to tell.

The group is divided into pairs and we have 5 minutes each to tell as tory. The first round is to tell your ‘partner’ about a great / the greatest source of inspiration in your life.  And vice versa. The second round is about a great, the greatest challenge you faced in life so far.

I worked with Leontes, a prison officer. We both found it a really useful way to get to know each other very quickly. Stories are where you and me become one. Stories humanise us. Through stories we share and what we share is our common suffering and pain that makes us human.

At the end Kiran gave thanks to the group and we agreed to let the story continue. He drew two overlapping circles on the board and wrote you and me in each circle – and in the centre that overlapped he wrote us. This is where we connect – through our shared experience.

After the workshops ended we all shared the learning from our workshop with the other participants in the other workshops.

Before lunch we went to see the theatre group in their rehearsal. They were having fun ‘playing’ together doing physical tricks, acrobatics and funny tricks, non-verbally. They were engaged and involved, working together as a team. What struck me was that these young people probably never had the opportunity to play together as children, because of the difficult circumstances they came from. Playing and creating together is so important. It is an essential component in growing into healthy adults. The teacher is a professional actor. He volunteers to do this work one day per week. He has been doing        this for two years after the Government froze his wages. I have such respect for the people who commit to volunteering despite the circumstances. It made me reflect about the difference with my own country and our prisons – we have so much in terms of resources but we are so lacking in the goodwill needed to use them properly for the benefit of the people inside.

After lunch in the prison we had a number of topics on the agenda to discuss:

  1. Website,
  2. Manual,
  3. Final meeting,
  4. Bosch Parade – MEET YOU AT THE TURNING POINT

During this meeting we also agreed to rename the manual to turning point(s).

I think this is a good idea the notion of a manual is to tell you how to do it and what we are trying to do is to capture the moments when people were able to change something significant in their own lives through participating in an arts education programme.

We agreed all the deadlines to meet for the Final Meeting. And we clarified what was expected from each partner for that meeting.  The partner meeting closed and we all drove back to Athens. Partners meet again at a wonderful Greek dancing evening at Methistanes” Psiri / Athens. Well done to the Greek team for organising such a wonderful meeting!

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

Diary by Una Guildea ————————————->

PICP Impressions-1

 

 

 

PICP Impressions-2

 

 

 

 

 

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

Diary by Ellen Tapia Quilodran ————————————->

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

Ellen LD Athene

Diary by Mirthe Wacki ————————————->

 

MIrthe Athene

 

Together with my collegue i facilitated a workhop with the students of the Avlona Prison School. We made a group project inspired by an old Dutch poem about the Dutch landscape. The project is a two-dimensional, mixed media visualisation of the poem. First there is was reciting of the poem, then a brainstorm about the meaning, then a translation of words into images. Students were encouraged to be inspired by the different materials and to use the material in different, unconventional ways.

I was really exited about the final artwork. A lot of beautiful processes were happening. The rain made out of spotted paper, small fishes in the river and a Greek church. The poem was about the Dutch landscape, one of the first things the students said about Holland was mountains. Wich we don’t have, also the church looks totally different from a Dutch church. I love the way the poem blended two cultures into one painting.

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

Diary by Veronica Hoen—————————————————————->

March 2015 (25th of March – 28th of March)

 Wednesday 25 March evening

I travelled all day until 3am on the 26th to reach my Hotel in Athens, Greece.

Thursday  26 March

  • 15hrs bus brings us to Avlona, about more than an hour drive from the centre of Athens.
  • 30 whole day programme at 2nd Avlona Gymnasium & Lyceum Classes in the Avlona Prison for Young Offenders.

Arriving in Avlona Prison school I was reminded of my time teaching art in Spike Island Prison in Ireland. The age profile of the prisoners was similar and the atmosphere also; it was inviting and friendly.

Welcome and introduction by the director and a public attorney present at the school.

The prison houses more than 350 inmates with young male offenders (18 – 22 years old)  from approximately 20 different nationalities. The venue has been designed for about 170 people, so four / five persons share a cell.

In the morning four workshops in lino printing, soap making, claymation and Greek dance were facilitated by the students. This was a great idea and I could see it was empowering for the students. They were a little nervous at the beginning but as the morning progressed one could see their confidence building. It was also a chance for the partners to get to talk with the students and there was a relationship built up immediately.

Lunch outside the prison.

First presentation by Ioannis (IP); ARMY is a formal school presenting both primary school and a secondary school  lyceum / gymnasium.

2nd speaker of the day: prof dr Christina Zarafonitou,

We learnt that 70% of the population of the prison are foreigners. I can’t imagine what this is like on an everyday practical level. But I did observe over the couple of days in the prison that there is a lot of peer teaching and what seems like an impossible obstacle to overcome is enriched by this type of teaching and learning.

The third presentation was by  by Rokas ex-student of 2nd Avlona Gymnasium & Lyceum Classes in the Avlona Prison for Young Offenders.

Rokas was from Lithuania and he mentioned in his talk that the Judge who handed down his sentence could tell him how long he would be in prison but could not tell him how he would spend his time there. Rokas said that going to school gave him a connection with the outside World and also gave him a purpose to spend his days with quality and that in some ways it felt like home. Through school Rokas mentions that he tried to ‘find himself again’. He added that he was glad that he went through this journey as he knows now that he wants to help others- but hasn’t figured out how yet.

During the evening we all have dinner together in the excellent restaurant ‘Athiri’.

Friday 27 March

During the morning, we had workshops together with the students, this time presented and organised by the PICP partners:

  1. Story telling – workshop by Kiran Michael Shriemisier (KMS)
  2. Music – workshop by Ed Santman (ES)
  3. Painting a Poem – workshop by Mirthe Wacki (MW) and Ellen Tapia (ET)
  4. Dance – workshop by Nadja Raszewski (NR) and Dani Grosset (DG)

I decided to observe from a distance as the workshops were taking place. I found this very helpful as I  learnt so much from ‘dipping in and out’ of sessions. The set up of the prison school is good as most or all of the classrooms have large windows which enabled me to do this.

We quickly left the school to look at the murals in the exercise yards. I had seen these in photographs at previous conferences and was excited to see them now in all their splendour. I am planning to do a similar project in one or indeed all of the prisons in Ireland and will be contacting the Art Colleges asking for volunteers.

On our way to see the murals we had to go through the prison itself and the first thing that hit me was the smell. All I could think of is what must it be like in the height of the Summer!!

My colleagues and I were ‘blown away’ by the theatre production we were invited to in the Gymnasium/hall in the prison. It just blew me away and I would like to thank everyone involved for such an emotional, funny and entertaining production.

Lunch was in the school which was also a great idea as we had a tight schedule for the afternoon.

In the  afternoon all the partners sat down to discuss the website, the next mobility in The Netherlands, the Den Bosch parade, Turning points manual, Quilt, etc. There was plenty of work to do for all the partners for the next and final mobility in The Netherlands.

At that point it was time to say goodbye to Avlona Prison and the school and we all went back to our hotel (which was absolutely beautiful by the way). There was a Greek dancing evening organised for that evening but I was unfortunately unable to attend due to an ankle injury. I did however take a rest and later went a short distance from the hotel for a coffee and just observed the happenings of this beautiful city from a street cafe. I was amazed how safe I felt and fell in love with Athens but was also very sad for the financial troubles this city and this Country is experiencing.

I would sincerely like to thank all the staff in the school who helped with this wonderfully well organised mobility!! So looking forward to the next mobility in The Netherlands.

GO RAIBH MILE MAITH AGAIBH!!  (thank you a million times over)

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

Diary by Vicky Douzeni —————————————————————->

It was our turn, here in Avlona, to host the program meeting and we decided to organize it so that our students benefit the most of it, by involving them as much as possible in the whole process.
This meeting will remain an unforgettable experience for me, full of images and thoughts. I watched our students getting in a teacher’s shoes and teaching animation, techniques, Greek traditional dances, engraving and soap making to complete strangers to them. I watched them under the new stress of trying to transfer their knowledge, as I watched their satisfaction, when they felt they did it. I saw the pride in their eyes, the certainty they are able to complete a difficult task. During those 2 days, they ceased to be offenders and they turned into capable, doal-willing young men, expected to actually teach others.
I am sure I will never forget their sparkling eyes.
Our headmaster often says: “As teachers, we try to plant seeds in each child. In time, some will grow and blossom, others won’t”. my feeling is that we planted many seeds during this meeting: Self-confidence, effort, cooperation, believing in others abilities, hope, satisfaction, acceptance of the different. Faith in their own skills. And all this through Art.
When it was our students turn to be taught from our partners, they were ready lager to learn new skills. One more, art made it possible for people of different origin, different language to communicate in many ways.
After the meeting and for some days, our students eyes were still sparkling with enthusiasm. They were still talking about our European guests and the chance they had been given, for a short time, to feel free, creative, equal members of the society and not just dropouts “criminals”.
In short, this interaction (students and teachers) had wonderful results. I’m sure some of our students discovered they had skills they wouldn’t have thought of. I hope we were good hosts and that everyone had a great time.

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

Diary by Krisard (student) —————————————————————->

I was the one holding the camera and shooting during the 2 days the Europeans were visiting our school.
The first day was very beautiful for all of us. We were the “teachers” and we showed our guests some of the programs we carry out in our school. What stroke me the most was the expression on their faces as they were rotating through the workshops. My friends were doing their very best as teachers. Although the language was a problem, they managed to communicate effectively. I could tell that they were a bit shy in the beginning, but after a while they were so carried away by their task and the atmosphere that they even forgot about lunch time.
Despite the fact that we are in prison, we felt free that day, as if we were in an “outside” school, with no bars and no guardians. My friends were very happy because they had been able to prove that they “are worth” something, that they can show and teach beautiful techniques. A chance none of us had been given outside.

“This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the authorand the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.”

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