I have been in Greece for a little over a month now, and much of my time is spent at my internship. I am currently interning at a non-profit organization for refugee women and children called AMURTEL. This is an organization run by women for women. In this post, I wanted to discuss my typical day at AMURTEL.
Each Tuesday and Thursday around 8:45, I begin my journey to AMURTEL. I walk to the #11 trolley and try my best to squeeze into the packed space. The commute to Platia Viktoria is lively. Students snicker on their way to school, businessmen finish last-minute phone calls with loved ones, and others rest enjoying their last few minutes of relaxation before the day.
I utilize my 30-minute commute to analyze the people around me and observe the movement of people. I have found it interesting to categorize which types of people get off the trolley at each stop, however, whenever I think I have made an actuate generalization, I am sadly mistaken.
I exit the trolley at ΟΤΕ ΠΕΔΙΟΥ ΑΡΕΩΣ and continue with my short walk through Platia Viktoria. If I have a few minutes to spare, I stop by Dina’s Cafe and grab a coffee and pastry to enjoy after the morning rush. I give my order to the same woman every day. She speaks little English, so I try my best to use Greek to communicate with her. She always leaves me with a warm smile and a wave– our unspoken gratitude.
Afterwards, I am greeted at the building entrance by our doorman. He wishes me a good morning and welcomes me into the building. The AMURTEL staff consists of 8-10 people each day, two midwives, two interpreters, three or four office managers, one support group leader and the receptionist (me). The staff rotation varies depending on the day of the week, so I get to work with a variety of women each day.
Nevertheless, we begin each morning by having a meeting in the main group room. Didi, the organization director, leads the staff in a mindful exercise that helps bring awareness to our space and helps set the intentions for the day. After this exercise, Didi gives an overview of the schedule for the day and updates the group about any news regarding the refugees or organization. I use my remaining time in the morning to socialize with the other staff members and settle into my desk.
When 10:30 rolls around, my full attention is required to check in all the refugees. As the receptionist, I sign in returning clients to their designated appointments and update their AMURTEL card. This can consist of support groups, midwife consultants, gender-based violence groups and lactose consultants. I use different programs on the computer to document the data.
I am also responsible for signing up new clients and documenting their information. This process can be difficult due to the language barrier, and many times I have to wait for an interpreter to help collect the information. The appointments normally last an hour and a half, and if I have extra time I sometimes sit in on the group sessions and observe. This process is repeated again at 13:00 for the second group session.
After the last group ends, the staff meets again in the main room to reflect on our day. We share difficult experiences and debrief with each other. This is a way for the office staff to stay informed about what happens with the clients, and for all the staff to reflect with one another.
Around 16:00, I head for the trolley stop. The commute home is peaceful and I can usually find a spot to sit in the back. I take the time on my ride home to reflect on myself. I see how I felt about the day, if I encountered anything that bothered me or made me uncomfortable. Most days, when I leave my internship I feel content with my work, however, sometimes the weight of the issues seem heavy. On days like this, I like to debrief with my roommates and journal. These exercises help to ease my mind and remind me to stay grounded.