Teaching music to kids in a refugee camp in Greece, Nadia Monczak reflects on her own family history

The child of refugee parents, Montreal violinist Nadia Monczak is sharing the joy of music with children in a camp in Lesbos.

'Even the simplest notes can touch people so fast'

(CBC Arts)

For her 30th birthday, Montreal-based classical violinist Nadia Monczak decided to step out of her comfort zone: she flew to the Greek island of Lesbos to give music workshops to children in the region's refugee camps. The child of refugees herself, Monczak says: "A lot of kids that I've met, they're over a year here and they don't know when they will leave."

At the peak of the refugee crisis in Europe, the island of Lesbos was on every headline because of the sheer number of migrants landing on its coasts: more than one million since 2015. Today, thousands are still stranded in the the Kara Tepe and Moria camps. In this video, you'll join Monczak to go to the camp and into one of her classes — and you'll find out why spending time with the kids meant so much to her and resonated so powerfully with her own family history.

Watch the video:

Violinist Nadia Monczak in Lesbos, Greece

5 years ago
Duration 5:52
Featured VideoThe child of refugee parents, Montreal violinist Nadia Monczak has brought her music to children in a camp in Lesbos, Greece.

Monczak spent two weeks working with the local organization ART Angels Relief, teaching the violin basics to the children. At the end of her stay, together with Greek violinist Danai Koletsa and some of the kids she worked with, she gave a concert to pay tribute and give back to the residents of Lesbos.

The experience has impacted her deeply: Monczak says, "The work that I've done here is inspiring me to continue doing this kind of work, not only thinking of faraway places — I would love to do more of that kind of work in Montreal as well."

(CBC Arts)
(CBC Arts)
(CBC Arts)
(CBC Arts)

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Thomas Szacka-Marier is a Montreal-based director and cinematographer with a deep passion for documentary filmmaking. His short film Follow the Tide, about a group of fishermen in Senegal, was selected in many festivals and was broadcasted on TV5 Monde. He also directed FONKi World, a web documentary about a Canadian street artist exploring his Cambodian origins.