Nov 27, 2023

Atefeh Khodaei and Reza Sanaei are CHEER’s newest CHAMPions of the Week! Atefeh and Reza are graduate students interning at the CHEER International Group (CHEERing) in Athens, Greece. For the past four months, the passionate duo has supported CHEERing’s Grow Clinics in refugee camps, soccer (football) training, and other preventive health activities.

Atefeh and Reza came to CHEERing in August through the Erasmus internship program, while pursuing master’s degrees in World Politics and International Relations at the University of Pavia in Italy. Originally from Iran, they serve as invaluable translators during CHEERing activities, working closely with refugee children and families. Reza is also a coach for the CHEERing Football Club.

“Supporting refugees and [doing this work] feeds my soul,” shares Atefeh. “Camp days at CHEERing are some of my favorites. Even though I can’t always solve people’s problems, as a Farsi speaker, I can always strike up a conversation with them and offer emotional support.” Atefeh plans to write a thesis related to her work with refugees and pursue a career in this area.

“My favorite experience at CHEERing has been seeing the kids’ happiness and the way they develop and improve their football skills,” shares Reza. “I am not just coaching football, I am showing kids how they can be a team and support their colleagues, especially during football matches. It is important to score goals and win matches, but it is most important to be supportive of your team and take care of each other during good and bad moments.” After Reza’s internship ends in December, he will continue his studies in refugee integration – “and, of course, work again with refugees,” Reza adds.

We are immensely grateful for Atefeh and Reza, our CHAMPions of the Week!