December’s blog is written by a really inspiring woman who continues to work with schools in the UK without having to leave Aegina!! Here is another example of how individuals adapt to working during Covid-19 times. Dr Sabina Fitgerald-Melidis explains how this is done.
November 2020 Aegina Lockdown
My connection to Aegina spans 45 years, beginning soon after I came to Athens, not long married to my Greek Russian husband and a mother of my first son. My husband had been going to Agistri since he was a boy and so it was natural that this little island became the first rented get- away from what was then a very polluted capital city. At that time, the only way to get to Agistri was a boat from Athens, then the smaller boat from Aegina, so Aegina became the lunch- stop or the shopping metropolis before the journey over.
When I first came to Greece, I was a qualified teacher and with the arrival of son number 2 and his growing into an energetic toddler I decided to run a playgroup in my fortunately, large flat. An advert in what was the English Paper the’ Athens News’ for some others to join me resulted in my phone ringing non- stop with many bicultural parents, – mostly foreign mothers wishing to join. This demand kept up, so after a time I established what became a very successful, happy pre-school- called ‘Stepping Stones’ which had a bilingual and biliterate curriculum with afternoon drama activities for older children.
A get- away became even more important as well as ease of reaching it, so Aegina was an obvious choice. For several years this was a rental residence until we became very proud owners of a house not far out of town. This house has been blessed with many wonderful Christmases, Easters with much in between. often providing hospitality to the many friends and to family visiting from Ireland UK and USA.
In the 1980s, I returned to London and qualified as an Educational/School Psychologist and later as a CBT psychotherapist. As Stepping Stones went on for many years after that, I would return every six weeks or so to provide input and so Aegina once again became the much-needed weekend bolt-hole.
The relationship with Aegina did not end there as I am now working as a Consultant School Psychologist with 5 schools in London. The Covid-19 Virus has one benefit that was never previously imagined by me , which is to work with the 5 schools without having to get an early tube train across London and buses between schools – simply, I only have to get up in the morning to enjoy a leisurely breakfast with the advantage of being 2 hours ahead of London here on Aegina. Yes, the first lockdown decided for me on the return full – time to Greece. It meant having to learn some better IT skills, getting used to Zoom and Teams with WhatsApp video constantly in use.
School staff and parents have remarked that this has been in so many ways a better service as they enjoy more regular contact with me in much shorter periods of time, which allows both sides to have time to gather thoughts and do other things. The virus has meant that many of the standardised tests are now allowed to be used on line and as we know children are much more used to on line connections than we, the older folks! The internet provider here has been excellent and with a mobile phone I can even sit by the sea on occasions and engage in a consultation with teachers in the UK.
So, if you see an older person sitting on the sea front with a phone glued to her ear but trying to scribble in her note book at the same time, you will know a psychologist is enjoying the best of both worlds- being on a lovely island but working with the UK without even getting on a boat!
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