"Adopt a Ship" Educational Program a Success

Credit: Project Connect

Published Jun 10, 2019 8:53 PM by Irene Notias

IMO endorsed, “Adopt-a-Ship” (AaS) is docking in Greece till next school season. It arrived successfully and in its finale on Wednesday, June 5, 2019, six public grade schools of Piraeus and one private school, the Athens College, who worked the project based educational program for the last six months, held a beautiful celebration with many surprises, at the 54th School in Piraeus, Piraiki section overlooking the Saronic Gulf. 

School teachers presented the beautiful creative work related to seagoing 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.

Athens College’s 10 to12 years olds, amongst creating essays and drawings on shipping 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, a big fan of AaS! 

Maritime education is in Greek elementary schools, as of Jan 1, 2019 .

This was a milestone for both the Greek educational system and the Greek shipping industry, as it was a long-time goal to implement maritime education in a country that for centuries thrives by the sea.  Adopt-a-Ship inspires Greek elementary school teachers to cover a multitude of 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 eightor 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.  

It’s volunteers Effie Kotika and Despina Tourtoglou took this project on with great pride. The material was shown to the School board of Piraeus President and an application was sent to the Ministry of Education to gain its authorization, while the teachers were guided by a professional educational master, Dr. Adamantia Spanaka, of the Open University. 

AaS is the first pilot maritime educational program in Greece for this age group (9-12 year olds) and has reached 180 pupils, in its pilot stage. It was held for six months and the teachers, 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.

Need more vessels – join in!

Project Connect has been soliciting for more companies to enroll and is happy to announce that Thanassis Martinos, Eastern Med and Dimitris Mattheou, Arcadia Shipmanagement each committed to enroll a vessel come September.

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.

It is a win-win educational program that the children deserve and is worthy to be continued, says Irene Notias, Director of Project Connect and Adopt a Ship in Greece. 

Many thanks to 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. Big thanks to 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...September here we come.

Irene Notias is Co-founder and Director of Project Connect.

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