Hello! My name is Eleni Konidari and I am the founder of greekwitheart.
In a nutshell:
I grew up on an island in the Ionian sea but my heart beats for the Aegean. Being close to the sea and the open horizon is what makes me feel at home. I have lived in Greece, Turkey, Portugal and the UK and I have a diverse background that includes Greek language and literature, social research, adult education and grassroots community work. Along the way I have mastered a series of participatory methodologies for seeing and making things anew, collectively. I have been teaching Greek as a foreign language for fourteen years now. Finally, no matter how much I have written, I always struggle keeping my texts brief – proof below!
I completed a BA in Greek Language and Literature at the National and Capodistrian University of Athens, a MA in Adult Literacy & Lifelong Learning at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and a PhD in Minority Studies (UEA). I have worked for two years in the General Secretariat for Lifelong Learning in Greece as Educational Coordinator in state Adult Education Centres on Lefkada and Samos islands, where I also taught Greek to migrants and asylum seekers. I have also taught Greek for foreigners at the ‘Ikarian Centre’ for four years and abroad at the Yeditepe University in Istanbul and in the UK as a freelancer. Moreover, I have taught Greek language, history and literature in secondary education in Greece, philosophy to primary school children in England, qualitative research methods’and adult education principles to BA and MA students in tertiary education (UEA), plus I have trained NGO staff and volunteers in accountability and participatory working with communities. As a social researcher, I have worked in several studies concerning education, nationalism, and social inequalities (UEA, The Earlham Institute, The European University Institute ). Finally, I have a passion for narratives, being a vivid explorer of their potential for personal and social transformation. My PhD thesis is all based on a year long narrative inquiry, and I have been trained in Narrative Therapy Level 1 by the Institute of Narrative Therapy in London. I have also worked in partnership with a charity and the Anglia Rushkin University in the UK co-designing and facilitating narrative projects for asylum seekers in East Anglia.
A (not so) little story: why I launched greekwitheart
I always loved literature, but my literature teacher at high-school was the worst I could have imagined having. I was so frustrated that I decided to become a teacher, only to be the teacher I wish I had had! Some years later I was thrilled to return to my school to teach poetry to the 16 years’ old! This story is very similar to how I started greekwitheart continuing my tradition! I am utterly bored of the standard foreign language textbooks and courses in between walls. When I put myself into learning Portuguese and Turkish I always suffer to transform authentic, interesting and meaningful content into a language learning resource for me as a beginner. It is extremely difficult, time-consuming and, honestly, ineffective to do this as a learner alone no matter the know-how. It is like driving a car without a license, map or even knowing where you are going!
While I was doing this, literally helplessly, I thought, hang on a minute! I can make my dream courses reality! I can create and offer to others what I wish I had! Since the first greekwitheart project I curated, I realised that damn it! It does not matter it is not for me, it makes me happy as if it were for me, and actually even happier! greekwitheart is a quite personal project as I found in it the alchemic formula to combine all the things I love: literature, arts, community-based projects, participatory work, intangible culture, narratives as a means for healing, research, sociology, history, archives, poetry, people, landscapes, connections, traveling, imagination, creativity, inspiration; language learning not as an end goal but as a voyage to get to know and explore new ideas, people, worlds and to light up and connect with new parts of one’s self.
- It makes me happy to design and direct a holistic language learning experience that enhances connectedness and openness to one’s self, the world and the others; sharing magic!
- I believe we learn better by people who not only know well what they do, but they also enjoy it and are still excited in their roles.
- I love shaping (un)learning experiences that ignite the sense of freedom, growth and inner restoration.
- I have a deep admiration for anyone who embarks on learning a foreign language. I respect the openness and curiosity that this requires and I acknowledge the vulnerability that is inherent in this, especially to us adults. I really find meaning in my work when I have my students’ back on it, helping them to build their confidence to reach whatever their learning goals are, with courage and a sense of humour.
See you there!