Maritime education is in Greek elementary schools, as of January 1, 2019 .
The seven schools participated in the project for the last sic months. During the night of celebration, school teachers presented the students' creative work in relation to sea going vessels, seafarers and sea life by the pupils to their parents, shipping company reps, and Project Connect members. One class created a digital presentation of the vessels' routes and the ports it visited. Others performed improvisation of ships on high seas with fabric and hand-made boats, while others sang songs about the sea.
The 10-12-year-olds of Athens College presented their essays, drawings on related themes compiled in big red book, held a theater day based on correspondence exchange they had with the Captain of a second vessel that was enrolled by Shipping principle, George Gourdomichalis.
Through this initiative, the students had the opportunity to cover subjects like mathematics, science, art and literature, besides sea life and the environment, and Greece’s nautical history which stands to be the oldest of any nation being 5,000 years old. All this from real live captains travelling the seas and sharing their experiences and knowledge with the students live and real time.
George Tsavliris and Michael Ierides of CYMEPA, who already run this program in Cyprus the last eight or so years, gave the idea to Project Connect, a pioneering result driven NPO. Project Connect, a movement since 2012 to help enhance young adults employability in Greece and minimize the Brain Drain, promoting excellence and work pride values, connected over 300 shipping students to shipping companies by opening doors to shipping via its vast network.
The project's volunteers, Effie Kotika and Despina Tourtoglou, forwarded the project by showing material to the School Board of Piraeus President, and sending an application to the Ministr of Education, so that the project is approved and authorised, while the teachers were guided by a professional educational master, Dr. Adamantia Spanaka, of the Open University.
The Adopt-a-Ship is the first pilot maritime educational program occurring in Greece, concerning the age group of 9-12 year olds, whereas it has already reached 180 students. It was conducted for six months, and the Piraeus school board president and programs directors were so very enthused, they ended the event with a formal request for it to continue with more vessels, in the next school season.
Adopt-a-Ship was warmly welcomed by shipping companies who each instantly enrolled vessels. The first group to enroll was Ariston Navigation, Phoenix and Medferry, Starbulk, Eurobulk, Apollonia, and Astra Shipmanagement.
The seagoing captains showed pride in their work and shared their experiences at sea via e-mail correspondence with the class. It was a good recreational exercise for captain and crew to be adopted by a classroom. It is another way for them to be heard, says Athina Kapetanakis, shipping psychologist, founder of Life at See and newly appointed Communications and Development Manager at Project Connect.
The Director of Project Connect and Adopt a Ship in Greece, Irene Notias, commented
It is a win-win educational program that the children deserve and is worthy to be continued.
Concluding, Mrs Notias thanks Hellenic Short Sea Org, Propeller Club, Lotus Shipping, Prime’s Bunkersplus, WISTA Hellas, Dynamarine for endorsing and or funding and to our Project Connect founder membership for believing in Project Connect’s vision: Franman, Seaven, Ariston, Phoenix, XRTC, Ulysses, Akis Tsirigaks, Dianik Shipmgt, Nicky Papadakis and George Tsavliris.
She also thanks Effie Kotika, Adamantia Spanaka, Fani Tseliou, Despoina Tourtoglou and all who gave their personal time so this could get up and going in Greece! Thanks to The Ministry of Education and school board that recognized the relevance.