A basic Greek education for new arrivals

Sadik, 30, was born in Iraq. Four years ago, conditions in his homeland – the upheaval sparked by war and the lack of prospects for the young – compelled him and his brother to leave. They entered Greece illegally. «There were 12 of us. We walked for days in the snow, crossed Syria and managed with great difficulty to get to Alexandroupolis [in northern Greece]. They crammed us into a small van and we got to Patras, and from there to Athens,» he explained. Now he lives in the Athenian suburb of Aegaleo, working at an insulation materials factory and attending night school. He’s in the second class of the Parnassos Literary Club’s primary school. Sadik is one of 410 foreign pupils at the school, which has pupils aged 18-45 from many different counties, from Egypt and Lebanon to Kazakhstan and Mexico. In the morning they struggle to earn a living and in the evening to make a better life. They study Greek, history, geography and the traditions and customs of Greece. They realize that learning Greek is the best way to feel closer to their new country, and that is what Parnassos offers them. The club started in 1872 after a report by poet Spyridon Vasileiadis, who wanted to help tackle a serious social problem of the time: the education of the poor children that used to hang around the streets of Athens in packs. Since then, the school has grown, set up branches in different parts of Greece and is now reaching out to embrace the new arrivals.

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