Overcoming Hardship & Adversity with the Facing Difference Challenge

Posted by Sophia Karagianni on
Thu, 02/22/2018

This blog post comes to you from educator Sophia Karagianni, an English teacher in Greece who has participated in three Students Rebuild Challenges! Learn how she is approaching the Facing Difference Challenge with her students and making it a learning opportunity for overcoming hardship and adversity in her classroom.

Six months ago, on July 21 our island, Kos in Greece, was hit by a major 6.7 earthquake. Two people died and countless buildings and monuments were destroyed or severely damaged. Three schools were among the damaged buildings and one of them was ours. Our school, 1st General Senior High School of Kos Island, a historic building, built in 1918 would celebrate 100 years this year. Unfortunately, it has remained closed, waiting for repairs and reconstruction since the earthquake. We had to move to a nearby elementary school in the evening shift, since the elementary school has the morning shift, and there was no other place available for almost 300 students.

Our students changed their whole schedules and consequently their lives. They go to school at 2:15 pm after lunch and leave school in the evening at 8:15 pm. We are learning to cope with this difficult situation, recover from the earthquake, and get back to our normal lives.

But we left our hardships aside and participated in the Students Rebuild Challenge for a third consecutive year, taking the “Facing Difference Challenge,” because we strongly believe that even if, at this point, we also need solutions, love, and support, we still can help other people who are in worse situations than ours. Even if we have no classrooms, there are children out there who do not have food, water, or peace. We decided to offer a little help to those who need it more than us.

Students Rebuild very generously provided us with paper, sketching pencils, colored pencils, and oil pastels, and our students created 137 self-portraits, a process which brought a lot of smiles and happiness. We scanned all portraits and created collages for each and every class that participated, and we also took group photos with all our portraits. On December 11, World Children’s Day, we put all 137 self-portraits on the wall of the host school, so that everybody would see the “Facing Difference Challenge.”

We have tremendously enjoyed all three challenges so far: pinwheels, hands, and self-portraits and we are looking forward to the next one!

Written by:

Sophia Karagianni, English Teacher


You can find more information on the Facing Difference Challenge here.