By Maria Kostomanolaki ’20 (Heraklion, Greece/ Hanford, CA) 

In November, in honor of International Education Week, I, Maria Kostomanolaki ’20, and American Councils intern Marina Nikolarou organized a national drawing competition for primary school students. The competition aimed to introduce cultural diversity and promote acceptance, tolerance, and love toward it through a fun and creative activity: drawing. To encourage further discussion on the topic, the organizers created a guide for teachers, which included activity ideas and discussion points that teachers could use in their classrooms to promote cultural diversity among their students. 

To be suitable for all primary students, the competition was divided into three age categories with each one having its own theme.  

The theme for first and second grade students was I am drawing with as many colors as I can. Here, the concept of different colors resembles different nationalities. By including multiple colors to create a beautiful picture, children understand that they should love and accept people of all nationalities, thus portraying the best version of their society.  

The theme for third and fourth grade students was I am drawing the house of a foreign friend of mine. This theme motivated children to search for the diverse cultural characteristics of other countries such as religion, cuisine, and traditions. This activity teaches respect towards diversity.  

The theme for fifth and sixth grade students was drawing my favorite flag from each continent. This activity motivated students to search for countries on each continent, thus leading them to discover unfamiliar places. The goal of this topic was to inspire students to learn about diverse cultures and grow understanding and respect toward them. 

With the help of the U.S. Embassy in Athens, the American Spaces in Greece, and the support of the online newspaper InfoKids, the program succeeded in engaging 20 participants from six different schools around Greece, including a second-grade student with autism. 

Our goal for this project was to promote multiculturalism as well as acceptance, tolerance, and equality toward diversity, and the winning pictures did just that.  

The winning pictures were posted on the Instagram and Facebook pages for FLEX Greece Alumni. The posts reached nearly 800 viewers in total. By publicizing them, we aimed to engage not only the participants (that were already waiting for the results) but also our social media audience in general, as a closure to the International Education Week. 

Many students shared messages saying they loved the activity and would like it to be repeated. Marina and I loved organizing and managing this activity and are interested in organizing this competition next year. 

You can admire the winners’ drawings in the picture: 

  • Upper left: Anastasia, first grade 
  • Upper right: Zoe, fifth grade 
  • Bottom left: Maria, fourth grade