Greece Field School Wraps Another Stellar Year
Hellenic Studies wrapped up its 2018 Field School to Greece this past June. The program is a collaboration between SFU's Hellenic Studies Program and Douglas College and taught by faculty from both institutions. Students enjoyed seven weeks in Greece, taking classes and visiting Greece's two major urban centres of Athens and Thessaloniki, where they had chance to experience the rich Hellenic heritage that the country has to offer. The centrepiece of the Field School was the town of Molyvos, on the Aegean island of Lesvos. There, students got to experience the authentic Greek island lifestyle, something visitors to the country rarely get to see. One of the Field School alumnus wrote the following account of her trip:
My time in Greece was nothing short of incredible! As this was my first trip to Europe, I am truly grateful for my overall experience. Each day in the bustling city of Athens provided an entirely new cultural experience. It was particularly impactful for me to connect the topics we studied in class to the city as we explored it. For instance, after learning about the population exchange between Turkey and Greece in 1922, the seemingly disordered city design of Athens started making more sense, as I now knew the city was built haphazardly to accommodate a drastic increase in population. This “disorder” in design seemed overwhelming and chaotic to me at first but after two weeks of wandering through the city, I came to appreciate how it influenced the local people. Watching the locals maneuver around Athens with its unique design was like watching an intricate dance known best by them and seemingly illegible by a newcomer. The historical undercurrents explicated to us by our instructors made a lively city bursting with culture truly ours.
Molyvos, on the Aegean island of Lesvos, provided an entirely different cultural and learning experience. Contrary to Athens, Molyvos runs at a much slower pace. This allowed us to really engage with the locals within the village. On a few separate occasions, I spoke with folks about local-life, tourism, and the 2015 refugee crisis. Furthermore, a local hotel owner visited our class, to personally discuss her experiences during the crisis with us. Though evidence of the crisis is almost completely gone in Molyvos, it is still a contentious topic for many on the island. By discussing these difficult topics, I developed a new understanding of how this event significantly impacted the lives and livelihoods of the people who experienced it. Moreover, engaging with the locals created a humanizing effect, which caused me to reflect upon my Canadian view of a distant event, and allowed me to focus on the people and their experiences.
I am profoundly touched by the experience I had in Greece. Whether it was in the classroom, on a field trip, or adventures during our free time, this experience has connected me with history in a way I never thought possible. It challenged me mentally, physically, and emotionally. My two months abroad gave me an opportunity to reflect and grow, and to become a more engaged and thoughtful world citizen. For that, I am forever grateful to Hellenic Studies.
Karlie T. 3rd Year Sociology and Anthropology Student and 2018 Greece Field School Alumnus