Meet Mary Guzzy, professor of Humanities and Theatre at SUNY Corning Community College I Corning, New York. I had the pleasure of hearing Mary present at Dr. Daniel Weiner’s 4th Annual Conference for Growth Conference this past October, Rehearsals for Growth.
Mary has been a student of Rehearsals for Growth for several years and is finding a way to use improvisational therapy in her work. Mary’s presentation was on her visit to the Greek Island of Samos where refugees from the conflicts in the Middle East have been relocated.
This past summer she volunteered to go to the Greek Island of Samos where refugees from the conflicts in the Middle East have been relocated. There are camps on Lesvos and Chios as well as all over mainland Greece. These refugee camps are usually situated in remote locations, so the refugees are kept away from tourist centers. But that also means they are far from services like hospitals and counseling and legal services.
The refugees on Samos Island are on an old WWII military base with a capacity for less than 1,000 people. Samos is currently accommodating 3 or 4 times that number. People spilled over into the surrounding brush in tarp tents and shacks. They called that area The Jungle. This camp was not far from Samos Town, but after the fire there in the summer of 2019, the government announced it would close that camp, and move refugees far away from the town, as most of the other refugee camps in Greece are located away from city centers and services, like hospitals.
These adults and children are forced to live in dangerous, crowded, and unsanitary conditions without adequate access to healthy food or hot water. Disease definitely spreads, as well as depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Nevertheless, the people she met strove very hard to retain their human dignity. Mothers and fathers worked to keep their children clean and neatly dressed, in spite of very difficult conditions.
Mary had intended to use puppetry and storytelling with the refugee children on Samos, but due to the lack of available translators, she had to forego storytelling workshops and narrow her scope to puppet-making, using very simple and found materials.
Nonetheless, Mary had wonderful experiences with the children as the photos show. She became close to one family and continues to communicate with them.
Mary is truly a generous and creative woman.