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Prace Stories: Meet Konstantinos

Posted December 9, 2020

Opening up the latest issue of Community News I was immediately drawn to a story by Konstantinos. We have all seen his beautiful photography on the cover of several issues this year, but do you know his story? He has written a beautiful article on his journey from Greece to Australia, from childhood to graduating from Prace. This is his story.


MY LITTLE AWESOME JOURNEY

“All this positive energy, all this new perspective, it blew my mind and this was the beginning of my little awesome journey.”

As we approach the end of the school year, I am due to finish my certificate and leave PRACE. I’ve been feeling nostalgic the last few weeks and reflecting on the memories and the experiences I have had. I’ve spent almost two years studying here and now is the time to express myself and share my feelings about PRACE.  

My little awesome journey started on 13th of March, 2019, but before I start to talk about my experience at PRACE, allow me to explain a bit of my background.

I was born and raised in Greece as a foster child with legal guardians who are my step family. I had never met my biological father and my biological mother had disappeared.

The environment I grew up in was harsh, in terms of job and educational opportunities, but I had an awesome family. They are the reason I’m the person I am today. When I was 29 years old, and at the initiative of my step mother, we tracked down and found my father. He lives in Melbourne and after I met him, we both decided it was best for me to move to Australia.

The first two years – 2016 to 2018 – I was back and forth to Greece because we were doing my application for citizenship. By February of 2019 I was back in Melbourne to live for the rest of my life and to build a bright future for myself. I had grown up in the society of Greece, so I was a pessimist and I never believed that I could make it here because of my age: I was 32 years old.  

Then came a pivotal moment. I had enrolled at PRACE for my certificate in English Language and it was time for my interview. Then, and only then, this moment changed my view about everything: time, age, effort, motivation and perspective.  

I remember the first time I walked into reception at PRACE for my interview. I was so stressed because of my poor English and the feeling that I was entering deep waters. As I approached, I took only one step before I started shaking. The interviewer came out of the office and called me in. It was Nilanthi, one of the level one teachers. As we were doing the numeracy and literacy tests, Nilanthi asked me what my plans for the future were. I answered that I wanted to become a Youth Worker, but I felt it was too late for me to do this, because I was old. Nilanthi stopped, looked at me, and told me: “In Australia it is never too late for anyone and if you work hard, you’ll make it”. I was shocked. All this positive energy, all this new perspective, blew my mind and this was the beginning of my little awesome journey. 

I’ve passed through all the EAL levels and I’ve met most of the teachers at the school. I jumped very quickly from level 1 to level 2 and then after six months in level 2, I was part of Belinda’s level 3 class. Furthermore, I was full-time student through the SEEK program, so I had to do 4 days every week in the class. As a result, I spent time with, and met, almost all the teachers. I consider myself lucky for this experience because I’ve met some of the most special and interesting people in my life. They have taught me not only grammar and spelling, but to be conscious of the society and the people around me.

Where can I start? From Irena and Nilanthi in level one, who with their inspiration and their kindness motivate the students not to give up when they are in level 1; to Shveta, a powerful and supportive teacher with a big heart even when she is pushing you to the limits; to Kristalo with her unique teaching methods and ideas, plus her awareness about the indigenous community; to Zoe, one of the happiest people I have ever met in my life, who taught us to feel free and express ourselves to our full potential, creating in us a strong desire to volunteer for the good of our community; to Deb, who has been teaching us how to distinguish between  truth and lies, and to be the masters of our ideas; and last, but not least, the teacher I spend most of my class time with, and who is my guide for what I’m planning to do in the future, and who works hard for our benefit no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the difficulties. She always has been there standing like a solid rock on our side and pushing us  forward: our beloved, classy, cosmopolitan Belinda. In addition, I can’t leave out the heartwarming front desk ladies, Rita and Maria, who always are there with a big smile to welcome and help the people with their enquiries and any kind of problems.  

PRACE for me is like a family with a common interest for the community. I don’t think I’ve ever met an educational organisation like PRACE before. This one-of-its-kind school makes you feel part of it and creates within you the feeling you are contributing. PRACE embraces individuality and respects the different cultural backgrounds of the students. I see PRACE as a part of myself and I wish everyone around me could be so be lucky to find a family like PRACE.

After making such strong and unbreakable bonds with PRACE, I don’t want to lose this link and the connection with this community school, so for anyone who wants to get rid of me (this is a joke) I want to tell you that even if I finish I’ll still keep contributing through the Community News. I am also pleased to say that I am on my way to realising my dream as I will be starting my Certificate in Youth Work studies next year.  

Finally, I want to thank my step family, for the person I am today; my father, for the opportunity he gave me to come and live in Melbourne; and the big family of PRACE, who taught me how to be a better person on every single day of my life.  

THANK YOU PRACE IT WAS MY HONOUR!!!  

Konstantinos Kanellos

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