Oral histories connect native and refugee students in a Greek school

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Multicultural learning gives students a much-needed chance to reconstruct their identity – especially in primary schools, which are good for paving over educational gaps. With this in mind, a project in Greece fostered intercultural experiences between Greek pupils and their immigrant and refugee schoolmates.

Over the course of nine months, the 23rd Primary School of Kalamaria sought to develop pupils’ cultural, linguistic and social competences in A school without walls: co-creating an open and sustainable community.

In an oral history segment, both refugee and Greek children collected family stories on their backgrounds. These showed a lot of overlap and manifold dimensions, as Greek history includes its own share of migration and refugee movements.

A network of mediators – adults and older students fluent in the refugee children’s languages – helped to make everyone’s voices heard. In addition, pupils created a lexicon with common Greek and Arabic phrases, showing the similarities between the languages.

Arabic-Greek lexicon

The student body was also split into peer groups, so that Greek pupils could cooperate and interact with their non-native schoolmates. Most of them did not have any previous school experience, so the Greek pupils took the initiative to familiarise them with the rules of school life.

Adults also participated in – and benefited from – the project. Teachers conducted action research and/or worked in teams, while the school opened its doors to children’s relatives and other local community members.

This project was part of the Council of Europe campaign Free to Speak, Safe to Learn – Democratic Schools for All, which is still ongoing.

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