Reasons to love the European School Heraklion #8

#8 It creates citizens of the world

The Greeks have a saying: παπουτσι απ’ τον τόπο σου κι ας είν’ και μπαλωμένο (shoe from your own place even if it’s mended). It means that a partnership is more likely to succeed if it’s with someone from the same background. People sometimes use it to advise against mixed marriages. The idea, I suppose, is that people from the same background will understand each other better, have similar habits, and work together more smoothly.

I doubt if this was ever true (though perhaps it made sense in the past, when Greeks were under foreign occupation and needed to rely heavily on each other). But even if a shared culture does helps people work together, it’s not something our children will be able to take for granted. With globalization, multiculturalism, and mass migration, they will have to learn to get on with people from very different backgrounds. They will need to walk with others’ shoes.

It’s vital, then, that we introduce our kids to new situations and that we equip them with the linguistic, social, and cognitive skills needed to build partnerships with people who have different languages, beliefs, and habits. (Indeed, there’s evidence that linguistic and social skills reinforce each other.)

And this is exactly what the European School does. There, students, parents, and teachers from many different backgrounds come together on a daily basis to learn, work, play, and socialize. It is a unique community, which works precisely because it draws on the different skills each member brings. We have many shoes, from many different places, and we walk the better for it!

Why do I care about the European School Heraklion?

A friend has asked why I’ve been writing posts in support of the European School. After all, I’m not working there at the moment and my children do not currently attend the school. Why am I still bothered?

Well, I want to see the school survive and flourish. Selfishly, I would like to return to work there, and my kids miss it very much. (The reasons we left are complicated. But, as those who know them will testify, they didn’t reflect any lack of belief in the school itself.) But I also have other reasons for wanting it to flourish – I want it for the children, parents and colleagues who need it, for the city of Heraklion, for our shared European future.

And I’ve started writing about the school again because I’m very worried about it. As many of you know, its future is uncertain, especially given the latest developments at ENISA — the EU agency which the school was founded to serve and which is (sadly) in the process from withdrawing from Heraklion. Parents, teachers, and students are anxious and dispirited, and many fear that closure is imminent.

I don’t believe that. But if the school is to survive, it must be re-established on a new basis independent of ENISA. And this will require good will, determination, and powerful arguments from all those who believe in it. It will be hard work, and I am writing these posts to show my support and to remind everyone of what’s at stake and why it’s so important we succeed.

This is a crucial moment for the school and we must keep our nerve, focus on our objective, and not give up. I want the European School to be there for all us in Heraklion and for all those who may come to Heraklion in the future.

The school has supported me and my family and I want to support it.

Nine days to save the SEEH!

Who would have thought that during the Greek presidency of the Council of Europe, the Greek government would allow the only European School in the whole of Greece to face closure? It’s scarcely believable, yet it’s happening.

We are petitioning the government to see sense and act to save the school. Please sign our petition and ask your friends and colleagues to do so too. (There are buttons at the bottom of the petition page to share it on social media.)

Please act: There are only nine more days until 8 April, when the school’s fate will be decided. Let us help the Minister see that he should make the legal changes needed to keep the school open. He promised to do it, and it is the right thing to do – right for the children, parents, and teachers of the school, right for ENISA, right for Heraklion, right for Crete, right for Greece, and right for him, as a member of a government that believes that Greece’s future lies at the heart of Europe.

We can all help him do it. Our last meeting at the school was a wonderfully warm and supportive one. All of us — parents, teachers, and ENISA – were united and spoke with one voice to support the future of our school, the future of our kids, and the future of Greece in Europe.

Once again, please help. Here are some ways you can show your support:

Sign and share the petition.

Leave a message of support. (Please spare a moment to write a few words. We will show the comments to the Minister.)

Follow campaign updates on our blog.

Read more about the school.

There are more relevant links at the bottom of the petition.

Even though I and the other parents and teachers have a personal interest in keeping the school going, we do genuinely believe that its survival is important for the future of Crete, Greece, and Europe.

Thank you!