Wednesday, June 13, 2007

School is out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Schools are now closed for the summer here in Greece. As the temperature rises, it becomes more and more difficult to keep kids focused on studying and not on when they will start heading for the beaches. Due to the rising temperatures over the summer period, in Greece, the school year is divided into three semesters. The first begins around the 15th September and ends a couple of days before Christmas. The second begins around the 7th January and ends on the Friday before Easter week begins. The third starts a week after Easter and ends around the 15th June. During each semester there are no real breaks, apart from National (Bank) holidays.

Unlike the British school system, which has half term breaks in the middle of each term, lessons do not stop from the start of term until the end. There are positive and negative aspects to this form of schooling. The kids love their long Summer holiday (12 weeks!!!!) and parents do not have to worry about who will look after the children over mid term breaks, but the length of terms and the 3 month lack of contact with their schoolbooks, does tend to provoke a sense of laziness in all schoolchildren.

So, what to do over the summer break. Well, those of us lucky enough to live near the sea, will surely be taking the kids to the seaside, after work in the afternoon, but three months of soaking up the sun is not really the way it is as work beckons for us adults every day. Naturally, if you are lucky enough to have grandparents nearby, then there are fewer problems on the "who will look after the kids" front. Those who don't, now have to search rapidly for summer camps, summer schools and anything else with summer in the title, so that the school holidays do not drastically change the daily routine. Another major obstacle is how to not allow your child to become a couch potato, watching endless cartoons and repeats of winter shows which should never be repeated so early in the day, as they were originally broadcast after nine!!!

If I take my family as an example, the summer holidays must be one of the most stressful times of the year for most working parents. So, would it not be wise for the government to take another look at the school year, and maybe plan around family commitments, children's educational welfare and not only the weather!!!

At this time of year, I am always on the lookout for inspiring ways to keep my children busy over the holidays, and much to my dismay, although I consider myself creative, I am running out of ideas, as 12 weeks is a long time to keep projects going. Another problem is that all routine is thrown out of the window, as the long hot summer days call for different sleeping hours, untimely playing hours, and less time spent at home. Now, living in a village and working full time, it is even more difficult to keep things under control, as the sense of safety leads to more freedom, and so more hours spent wandering around the squares and parks.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Devious Diva .....

Today, I spent most of my day reading the articles on Devious Diva's blog...This is not my country. As a Greek, brought up in a "foreign country" I, as well as my family, have been at the mercy of many a racist attack, which thankfully, did not end up in any tragic way. Devious Diva's blog impressed me to the extent that I felt that I had to dedicate at least one post to the worthy causes that she has taken upon herself to bring to the forefront and make known. It is so easy to live within our own circles, and lead our lives ignoring what is going on around us. Admittedly, the Roma issue is of great importance, and as I have been reading about it over the past few weeks, it has surprised me that this issue has not yet been given the much needed publicity that it should. Now, my job does not allow me to have that much free time to watch TV or read the papers, but I do have time to read up on things over the Net. I have, though, been able to watch programmes which are supposed to raise the public's awareness of what is going on in and around their country, and racism is one subject I have yet to see being discussed. Obviously there are people who feel that they have the right to be racist. They feel that letting down the borders to their country has meant that their life has rigidly been changed. This may well be the case, but these same people hire immigrants to do the jobs they won't do. They offer jobs, food, and less than acceptable housing to people that they consider "unworthy". I live in an area which does not have half the problems that the major towns and cities have, but racism still exists, and is very much a part of our lives. I too have found myself walking past beggars, sometimes stopping to give money, other times just ignoring them. When I analyse myself, I tend to fall into many different dilemmas. The first is always whether or not I should be giving money to beggars. Maybe by trying to help , I am just aiding an industry which has come into existence over the past years. An industry which plays with people's lives, their humanity, an industry which has its roots set in everything, from sending young children to beg and steal, to actually smuggling people over borders to partake in illegal activities.

How can we really help people who really need our help, and how do we decide who these people are. Are they those who live in the rundown areas of every town? Are they those who sit on street corners with their babies and ask for money? Are they those who will do any work, as long as they get paid? To distinguish is impossible, but to close our eyes choosing not to see is inadmissible....Devious Diva..thank you for not allowing us to think that this problem will just go away....