Graduate student and Career Services Specialist Christine Bizzell spent this past summer working with Syrian refugees in Camp Moria on the Greek island of Lesvos.
While working in the refugee camp, Christine was able to utilize the skills she attained through her undergraduate degree in Psychology and the Masters in Business Administration she is currently pursuing. She led various health initiatives, facilitated spontaneous English lessons for Arabic speaking adults and children, and executed specific management projects.
While working in the camp, Christine and other volunteers lived on the boat off the coast of Lesvos.
For more information on how to use your degree abroad after graduation, contact the Center for Global Education and Career Services, both located in Hardesty Hall.
For more stories from Christine’s time in Greece this summer, follow her blog.
Blog Entry #2:
Today (7/6) was the hardest day for me yet in Camp Moria. After “field testing” different jobs in the camp to assess where my strengths would be best utilized, I have committed (as much as in my power) to Level 3, which is where Syrian families are housed. The last several days there have been amazing. And when I say amazing, I mean I’ve been picking up trash and scrubbing concrete until my back is sore and I have blisters on my hands. But the (amazing) byproduct: a lot of new friends, including the Greek Army. But today.
Today I was given the task of moving some of my new friends out of what has been their home for the last several months. This job isn’t fun anywhere, for any one. But a necessary evil when trying to make or find space for new arrivals. There is a shortage of strong male volunteers, so often this job falls to females, which is not good for a lot of reasons.
It didn’t go well. And for those that know me well, I can be pretty tough. But not for this. Not for telling people who just fled war, who are now housed in a prison with barbed wire around the fence, that they have to settle into a new space (again). And when they have no idea when they will get to leave or where they will go next. I just couldn’t do it. They were all being very kind to me. Very kind. Saying “the problem is not you, my friend” – things of that nature. But it was still several voices raised speaking in Arabic for what seemed like hours throughout the day. I told them that I just wanted to help find a solution where the police didn’t have to come and get anyone in trouble or kick anyone out completely. They understood, but at the end of the “convo” said, “Let them come.” Yikes. For my sake -both physical and emotional health reasons- I really didn’t want to be around when the police came. So I tried my best to get the emotions back down to a resting level. I played soccer a bit with the kids, and then eventually snuck away so the yellow vests would be out of sight for a while. I made the (selfish) decision to not prompt the housing or police to come for help. I just didn’t want to be there for it.
Onto happier days. And moments. I have created a new sub organization (so far only comprised of yours truly) called The Ministry of Sun Protection.
The mission of the MSP is to chase and nab kids off the street for purposes of play, application of sun screen, and to have a special moment of connection in which to deliver love and care.
This has turned into my favorite part of everyday. Some of the kids run from me, laughing and screaming. For those ones, I come at them with my hands all lathered up and ready for a sunscreen tackle. For others, they come looking for a little attention and love… “Christine, please cream.” These moments are indescribably special. They stare at my face while I rub the cream into their little cheeks. Long moments of silence and then an attempt to whisper a little Arabic. I have a special headlock hug (as some of my friends may know) – some of the kids will just collapse into my arms for the little rub down. And then I get to give them a big kiss and send them on their way. So special.