“I was born in Greece in October when the first autumn rain starts. I am glad to have been born at the transition time between two seasons. I have always thought that transitions are happy endings and new beginnings. I grew up with two sisters and a big group of interesting relatives and friends. School was fun too, but there was a lot of hard work.”
When you begin listening to Rania Lampou, it is hard to fathom that today, she holds more than 55 national and international awards and honours in the field of teaching. “Teaching is the centre of my life. I feel blessed because I had the opportunity to teach people of almost all ages,” she says.
Rania is no regular teacher. She is a Global Educator, a STEM instructor, an ICT teacher trainer, a researcher on neuroeducation, an international speaker, and an author of scientific books for children. Currently, she is a STEM instructor at the Greek Astronomy and Space Company (Annex of Salamis) and is also working at the Greek Ministry of Education, at the Directorate of Educational Technology and Innovation where she writes STE(A)M projects for Greek schools.
What was the biggest challenge in the path to become a woman leader, we ask her? “The most difficult of them was bias against women in science or STEM education. The myth which says that men are stronger in science than women is still around. A woman has to make a greater effort to be accepted as an equally important member of the STEM community. However after the barriers are removed, the support and encouragement is great,” answers Rania.
But there were other challenges too, some personal. Saying that she balanced between home and work by taking time off from her projects everyday to recharge her energy, Rania reveals, “Inspite of this balance, I’ve had to sacrifice many things in life. For instance, I didn’t get married and don’t have children, but I have so many friends and students that I don’t feel the absence of a family. Professionally, I had to sacrifice opportunities to work abroad in order to be next to my mother who needs my help.”
While Rania’s selfless dedication to her work has made her an inspiration for many, she feels her greatest source of inspiration is her students: “Everything I do becomes meaningful because of students, not only in my country but also in other countries where my projects are implemented. My role-model is the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, the greatest teacher of all ages.”
Rania says her sole passion is to see her students become the best versions of themselves. “My role as a teacher is to help all these children achieve the best in their lives. I also want to see myself in my best possible version and that is a never-ending journey. That’s how I get energy for all the goals in my life. Life can be very interesting when you think like that,” says Rania.
Lucky are those who love their work, and Rania definitely makes the cut. One reason she finds it easy to work hard many hours in a row. “I can collaborate with people with great respect for their contribution. I am also a perfectionist and a strict judge for myself. However I have realised that there is no perfection in this world, but only the effort to make things better,” says Rania.
With more than 55 awards to her credit, all her efforts have paid off. She is a ‘Global Teacher Award 2020’ (AKS Awards) winner and a ‘Global Teacher Prize finalist 2019’ (Varkey Foundation). She is the founder and international coordinator of five innovative international projects that focus on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals described in the 2030 Agenda. Furthermore, she is a social activist and a global peace ambassador. She has received two humanitarian awards and many peace awards from International Humanitarian Organizations. She is also an Editorial Board Member of many journals and collaborates with many international organizations.
Ask her how women can be achievers in their work sphere, and she shares, “Women need to act as a group. They should support each other and defend their rights as strongly as possible. Competition among ourselves makes us weaker. Unity is the answer. History has proven that underprivileged or challenged groups of people gained their freedom or recognition of their rights through collaboration and support within the group.”