Spring came and we replaced real hugs with virtual ones to keep safe…
Back in February 2020, as winter was slowly approaching its end for the northern hemisphere and spring was lurking, ready to enchant nature once again with its flowery smells and warm winds, we were all planning to go out more. To be surrounded by the people we loved, to make new friends and create new bonds with people. Spring does that to people. It brings hope and high spirits.
Unfortunately, however, things didn’t go as planned. Heartbreaking news from around the world reached our homes and we were asked to stay in to protect our loved ones. Instead of sharing handshakes with new friends and warm Greek hugs with old ones, we were asked to keep our distance from them. And so we did. We stayed home and we stayed safe. We were not alone, though. We made sure we spent this time together, whether together meant meeting online with our best friends, our classmates or our family.
Is there a better way to learn Greek than when you are having fun?
For the young students of the worldwide online Greek School, Greek Lessons OnLine, it meant staying together with their classmates and Greek teachers who have all turned into a big fat online Greek family. When the situation was worsening and schools were closing around the world, the Greek LOL team decided to start free group events for the School’s young students.
“Routine is something extremely important for young children and this new situation that resulted in millions of schools closing around the world, created a lot of stress to kids everywhere,” said Stella Bompotsiari, Director of Greek LOL. “This is mainly the reason why our team decided to offer free group class-events to our young students who got the chance to connect and spend some time together with other kids their age from every corner of the world.”
According to Mrs. Bompotsiari, the classes were designed following the School’s motto that “You learn best when you are having fun” and meant to encourage children to communicate in Greek with other children their age through fun activities and interactive games.
The importance of staying together; MAZI
While the school’s young students could not leave their houses and spend time with friends and family, the Greek LOL team thought that they could all still connect, have fun and learn together. And the importance of togetherness during these unprecedented times is what gave these group classes of Greek for kids their name; MAZI! The Greek LOL team wanted to give kids something to wait for every week and also wanted for this initiative to bring a sense of unity to the students. They all played in teams so MAZI was not just a name but also reflected the spirit of those little Greeks.
Greek teachers bring little Greeks from around the world together
Sofia, one of the Greek LOL teachers who are all based in Greece, was astonished by how well the children who joined the “MAZI” events worked together.
“We started MAZI and were suddenly surrounded by children from all over the world, from Poland to the USA and from South Africa to France,” she said. “These kids had to work together, to collaborate to win the game for their team and they had to do it in Greek. They all found the ways to do it within minutes and were enjoying themselves more than ever.”
Sofia thinks that this collaboration and communication between children from different backgrounds and families was a very special thing to witness and also what parents noted as the greatest benefit of the group classes for kids.
Angeliki, another Greek LOL teacher, thinks that the most special moment was the smile on their faces and their gestures of happiness when they got the answer right and won a point for their team.
“Apart from the fact that they really learn how to work together in our MAZI groups, they also gain more confidence interacting in modern Greek with people they don’t know,” she said. “Of course by the end of the courses they all were best friends and even had inside jokes.”
Maria tells us that the best part of these group classes is that “the children would not stop laughing while working together.”
Is there a better way to learn new words in Greek than when you are having an absolute blast?
Summer has come with the hope to turn the virtual hugs into real ones soon…
Greek LOL started this initiative during the quarantine to put a smile on its students’ faces with the simultaneous goal to bring kids of Greek origin from various countries of the world closer together.
Lina, one of the most experienced Greek LOL teachers, thinks that the greatest success of these classes was that “The kids made friends, they learned how to work together communicating in Greek as much as possible and they approached knowledge in a creative and fun way.”
And while these started as temporary quarantine-related events, it seems that they have turned into a beloved habit that is probably here to stay for the Greek LOL family.
As the team reminds us, social distancing will eventually end, but the online family the Greek LOL students will have created will last forever and will hopefully turn the virtual hugs into real ones at the 2021 Greek LOL Summer Camp in Greece.
How about a small taste of the “Corona” groups as many called them? Greek LOL “MAZI” groups for kids!