ART is a means of SELF DEVELOPMENT and SELF EMPOWERMENT
The core goal of El Sistema Greece is very simple: we aim to heal the soul injuries that war has brought to the lives of children who have been forced to flee from home; we also aim at giving them some education, in the hope that one day they will be able to return to a “normal life” and start to go to a proper school and live in a proper house, again.
Beyond, and continuously intermingling with those 2 basic missions, we are aware that there are many other relevant aspects about teaching music and arts to vulnerable children.
We have learned, thanks to El Sistema Venezuela and their many years of experience, that telling the children that THEY ARE ARTISTS makes them feel proud, committed, challenged to improve their skills . In very few words, giving the children the status of artists means empowering them to a further level of participation in the artistic performance; it means letting them understand we trust their capacity and we give them personal responsibility on the performance. This way, we strengthen their self-confidence. Every single member of a choir or orchestra will then try to give their best for the final result, developing their artistic personality while respecting the group. We have experienced, in the camps as well as outside, how focused and determined the children can become, if they feel they are artists with a responsibility to the audience. This is one of the goals we have: raising the self-esteem of children and teenagers who would otherwise, be left to themselves, to their loneliness and to the many unsolvable questions about their condition.
Connected to the importance of BEING ARTISTS, there is the other very important aspect of PRODUCING the ART.
What we want to do is let the members of our activities realize that not only can they perform the music which was written by somebody else, but also that they are capable of PRODUCING art themselves.
This is why we are so much pushing the idea of bringing composers to the camps and having them work together with the children: art is for everybody and by everybody. We are all artists, in the widest meaning of the word. Refugee children run the risk of feeling they have no identity, that they are only “numbers”: in a camp where 3000 people or more live, being “one of the many” is just the normality for everyone. Until the moment when the chance is given for every child to take their talent out and develop it. Performing, composing, dancing. Finding their own identity in what they do.
This brings up another main pillar of El Sistema Greece: WE BRING THE ARTISTS TO THE CAMPS as role models for our young artists. Every time one of our pupils tells us: “When I grow up, I want to be like him/her”, then we know we are doing the right thing. And it happens, it really does.
Our next big task in this field is having the SEYO (Sistema Europe Youth Orchestra) performing inside Skaramagkas Camp in Athens at the end of July. We are sure that the 200 young musicians who come from any walk-of-life from so many different countries of Europe will demonstrate that inclusion of the vulnerables and social integration are possible. Within the arts and – finally – within society.
EMPOWERING PEOPLE to believe in their capacities and to strive for a better future is fundamental for working with weak areas of society. But… not only. If it is fundamental to let young refugees believe they are valuable members of society who can contribute to their community, it is also very important to empower their teachers and let them understand how vital their mission is – how big a difference they can make in their pupils lives! El Sistema Greece is trying to supply the tools for self-development to its teachers: we can learn so much from each other and we are trying hard to train our teachers with the most updated teaching techniques. We also try to enlarge the local teaching community and have it share their experiences with other teachers from the rest of the world: only through test and trial can we find the right way to improve our classes and, this way, to help and uplift the lives of our young artists.