Monday, March 16, 2015

My champion - (Outside influences)

When I saw this #30 goal's subject, I already knew who I was going to write about. Then I saw the iTDi Outside Influence Issue and I HAD to write this:
And I am going to talk about one of the most important people in my life, my best friend, Kostas Michalakis and how he influenced my life.
I met Kostas a very long time ago, while I was still at University studying German literature. We spent time together, but we were not exactly friends. All I knew was that he was not supposed to get tired... But he was really really active doing EVERYTHING you could imagine, especially during the school elections! He was everywhere!!!
Years passed and we lost touch, we found each other again through Facebook about 5-6 years ago and have not been apart ever since.
Kostas as I said before, is a very active person. He teaches ancient Greek and history at a high school in central Greece. He is always in charge of the school celebrations, plays, excursions, projects, library,  always there to support the kids.
An amateur actor himself, he is always involved in a play giving performances in the city he lives.
A researcher and a writer, having published two books already, you can find more info here.

Someone might think, why I do mention his accomplishments? A lot of people do all this stuff.
Well, my friend Kostas is a really special because he does all this and a lot more, although he is suffering from multiple sclerosis from the age of 17.
Although sometimes it is difficult to function and some days are harder than the others, he is always there.
His work at the Greek Multiple Sclerosis Society is unique and he keeps trying to help people in need by supporting them as much as he can.

When I see what hard work is coming from this person, I realize that there are a lot more important things in life.
As a friend he's been by me every single day to support me in everything I do.
His work, simplicity and actions set an example for all of us. He is the person who makes me understand so many things about my life both professionally and personally. Sometimes I wonder what I would do without him.
I really admire his work and his personality and I am really proud to have him by me, he makes me a better person.

Here is a mini interview with him:

How has Ms influenced your life?

I have multiple sclerosis since 1991. I am 41, so I feel “married” with MS. I lived all my adult life with MS. The first years were the more difficult. At 90’s there was no medicine for MS and it was quite rare to meet someone else with the same problem. There were many, in fact, but it was not easy to speak for it in public.
So, nobody knew what would happen the next day. It was very possible to have a serious problem, maybe find myself in a wheelchair, or have vision, bladder or any other problem that MS brings. Not to mention the fears and tears of my parents.
Every day, every year, I felt sure for my health. Of course, I had relapses, hospital, cortisone etc, but no permanent problem. I had almost a natural life, despite all these, personal life, master in Balkan history, and I teach in a middle school for 12 years now. I really feel lucky and that’s why I took the decision to involve with Greek MS Society.

What exactly is the MS Society and what you you do?
I am member of Greek MS Society since 1993, and member of its board since 1996. These days I am vice president of the society and member of EMSP’s (European MS Platform) ex-com.
What do we do? Many things, but in four different wings:
1.     Congresses, meetings, educational programs for MS. Doctors, therapists, other specialists, patients and their relatives can attend in these meetings.
2.     Helping the fight against MS, with registries, research programs and giving doctors and other specialists any data or other help the need.
3.     Programs for patients, such as: Psychotherapy, Physiotherapy, Aqua aerobic, dance and also art programs or even short trips.
4.     We address to Greek state and EU Parliament, so that they adopt the Quality of life for persons with MS in many ways. Not only medicines or rehabilitation centers, but also access to work, accessibility in public transportation or buildings, equal chances in all prospects of life.
We have achieved many things till now, but there are many things to be done. I think we are only in the beginning…

 How would you describe your job?

Being a teacher is a very important thing, especially when you have to deal with teenagers. OK, it’s the lesson I have to teach, who Socrates was, what verb is, how to write a correct CV, why poetry is important in our life etc, but this is just the half of the job.
The most important part is when you will tell them to be actors and play a scene of an ancient tragedy. They will say no, you will insist, they will do it at first shyly and then they will ask you to do it in every lesson. Or when you persuade them to visit this or other museum, and give attention to what they will see, not for degrees but for their real education. Or when they will walk in the streets of their city and watch the name of the roads (why they have this or other name?) the buildings, the monuments, even the bridges. Or when they will write a poem, they will paint graffiti, they will give a concert…
In generally, motivating my students is more important than just giving them information, or passing them tests…Of course I do this too and I think I am quite strict, but it’s better my students to judge this…


Maria Bossa said...

wow... admirable! thanks for sharing it! Smiles, Maria :)

Fabiana Casella said...

He really IS an influence! Admirable! Very touching story!

Anastasia Pist said...

The way you describe him is so touching. . .Admirable indeed. . .

Shelly Sanchez Terrell said...

Love that you went above and beyond and interviewed him! Thank you for sharing your source and journey of inspiration.

Silvers said...

An amazing frieind to have - what aqn inspiration:))