The school is situated
in Kalloni, in the centre of the island. There are a total
of seven teachers, with an average of 6 - 12 students per
I was recruited in January through Anglo-Hellenic and chose to work
on the island of Lesvos, where I was replacing a teacher who had
left at Christmas.
No problems arose during my five months at the school.
I was well-treated by the director and over-paid every month. That's
right - over-paid.
Each month I would count my hours and calculate my pay according to
the figures in my contract only to receive an envelope with a
significantly higher sum inside it.
I never asked why and my boss never said why, I just took it as
showing gratitude for the hours I spent reading and marking tests
and compositions at home, which took many hours each week.
It was my first teaching experience and an opportunity I took to
"test the water" before going to Korea (this turned out to be a huge
mistake as teaching English in the two countries cannot possibly be
compared, just take a look at the Korea equivalent of these postings
- they make Greece look like heaven).
I was surprised myself at how enjoyable I found the job.
It was challenging and rewarding in many ways.
As the students were working toward taking the Cambridge/Michigan
examinations there was a real purpose to the job and a goal to aim
for - to get as many students as possbile to pass.
The challenges were many.
The level and standard of English I was teaching to
proficiency-level candidates was so high that I would have to study
a little myself before every class.
The best students made me feel awkward by asking questions that I
wasn't always able to answer, while the worst really tested my
patience and occasionally drove me to the end of my tether and a
burst of shouting.
My director, knowing the bad kids as well as I, was always
supportive of me.
Other than some Albanians, Bulgarians and maybe a few others from
that corner of Europe, I was the only "foreigner" in town. I found
the locals warm and welcoming and I would converse with many of the
local traders as I did my shopping around town.
The town proved to be too small and too isolated in the end (the
isolation was exagerated greatly as I had no television nor regular
internet access, only Greek radio and the weekly English newspaper,
Most students went to the mainland to study at university and later
to work, leaving a bit of a generation gap.
I spent my free time exploring the island, by cycling for hours on
end, and studying Greek from a book.
Five months passed and my contracted period was over.
I refused an attractive offer to stay at the school in favor of
going to Korea in time for the World Cup and to be paid a huge
amount more for working a lot less.
I hadn't saved much money while on the island and hadn't partied or
had great fun the whole time, more relaxed and taken a break from
life to enjoy life in the Mediterranean.
After spending a year in Korea I would return to Greece at the drop
of a hat and a rise in the salary.
You can read, and see photos of my Greece and Korea experiences, and
many more, at my web-site, aledpowell.com.
Aled Powell (Llanelidan, Wales, UK)
November 17th, 2003