Kozani, a town of roughly 50,000 residents and capital of the prefecture of Western Macedonia in Northern Greece, was chosen as a location for the annual Train the Trainers series of events that took place on October 17, 2015. Despite its small site, Kozani is home to a number of higher educational institutes, including the Polytechnic School of the University of Western Macedonia and the Technological Institute of Western Macedonia, creating a lively “student buzz” in the town’s daily life.
Greece’s economic crisis has affected the region of Kozani especially hard, creating high unemployment and above-average levels of depression. The Train the Trainers Meeting purposely focused on this pressing topic, that was raised during the previous year’s meeting: how can counselors, who have not been trained as psychologists, and a decreased number of teachers, deal with a spike in mental health problems? On the agenda were subjects such as parental involvement, special education, psychodynamic counseling, avoidance behavior, and strength development through positive psychology. To gain more insight, and better results, additional speakers were invited, primarily Visiting Scholars, that included academics in the field of education and American Studies.
Among them, who we were pleased to welcome as guest of honor, was US Fulbright Specialist at the University of Ioannina, Department of Primary Education, Dr. Beatrice Brigdlall. Dr. Brigdlall is Chair - Advisory Board for Student Success in Higher Education in New Jersey; Faculty Affiliate – New York University – East China Normal University, Institute for Social Development, NYU Shanghai. Her field of research is Special Education and Educational Psychology.
The Train the Trainers Meeting always proves to be an inspiring and encouraging event, where alumni have the opportunity to proactively use their Fulbright experience in follow-up projects with their students.
Dr. Eleftheria Gonida, Associate Professor of Educational Psychology and Human Development at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, delivered a lecture to participants on Motivation in Education: School and Family Influences.
And, taking full advantage of this Fulbright On The Road outreach trip, our Greek Program Coordinator gave a presentation on the Fulbright Scholarship Program to students at the University of Western Macedonia, Department of Mechanical Engineering at the invitation of Fulbright alumnus Associate Professor Georgios Marnellos and the following day visited Thessaloniki, to meet with recently returned Fulbright alumni, at the U.S. Consulate.