ACT’s Student Service Office operates one of the largest community service programs in Greece. As the first post-secondary institution in Greece to introduce service and community programs to such a large percentage of its student body, ACT collaborates with over 40 NGOs, providing students with the unique opportunity to volunteer and give back to the community while learning about the local culture, history, customs and economy. These programs reflect the community-focused mission that the institution as a whole ascribes to.
Selected volunteer opportunities are available for students who are interested in developing or exercising skills in an environment tailored to their interests and studies. Certificates of recognition and awards of appreciation are provided to students for their volunteer work.
Service learning opportunities
Special needs centers
Students can volunteer for organisations that protect, support and provide educational and creative outlets for people with special needs. Students are assigned to volunteer at a specific organisation depending upon their interests, previous experiences and skill sets.
Students can volunteer alongside localsto prepare food for people in need. The work is basic but necessary:peeling potatoes, stacking shelves, washing pots and pans, and similar activities. Soup kitchens are a great place to learn how to make Greek food from home-cooks, and practice speaking Greek in an everyday context.
Students can volunteer as teacher’s assistants in the English programs at elementary schools, both at Anatolia and at local public schools in the west Thessaloniki district. This community service opportunity is especially appealing to students who are studying education. Each school has its own character; some are in low income housing areas where the volunteer’s job can be more challenging yet very rewarding.
There are a variety of youth centers in Thessaloniki that provide after school workshops in arts, crafts and music as well as foreign languages. The youth centers usually accommodate youth from low-income housing as well as immigrant families where the need for extracurricular activities, training and entertainment is greater. Volunteers help run workshops in the English and Greek language, math and science as well as arts and crafts. The opportunities are flexible and depend largely upon the volunteer’s abilities and skills.
Students who are particularly interested in social media, blogging and web design can be a great asset to local website businesses and organizations. ACT students can write blogs on the political and economic situation in Greece and Europe for http://politis-dukakis-center.act.edu/, or Repower Greece. Alternatively they can help run the ‘Local’s Like’ program for www.enjoythessaloniki.com which features video interviews of locals from around the city and their recommendations on where to go, where to eat and what to see in the city of Thessaloniki. “Local’s like’ provides a great service for tourists and foreigners in the city and also provides great insight for our students.
Tutoring high school students
Students can volunteer to provide assistance in math, science, history and other school subjects for local pupils who are struggling in school; these tutoring sessions usually take place with one or two pupils at a time. Some schools organise larger groups of pupils (15-20) in which 2-3 volunteers help tutor English conversational skills, especially for pupils who plan to take the proficiency English exams.
In collaboration with the different municipalities in the region of Thessaloniki, ACT helps organize both cultural events and projects to improve urban living standards.. Examples include: beach cleanups, helping at music festivals, helping organise a day of cultural, sports and tree planting initiatives in the forest of Seih-Sou, weeding green areas in the city and tree planting in the pedestrian centres of the city. Once a year ACT also organises olive picking projects in nearby villages.