Former CYA Spring 2014 student Katherine Hauge wrote a reflection about her time volunteering with Doctors Without Borders during her semester in Athens.
I studied abroad in Greece for many of the same reasons thousands of tourist pour in to the country every year: I was seduced by the culture, the history, and the stunning scenery. I did however have one unique goal that set me apart from the tourists, and that was to see Greece for what it really is, the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. I wanted to visit the sites and do the traditional things a visitor is supposed to do in Greece, but I also wanted to have a better understanding of the real issues, where people are hurting and what is being done to help. Since I hope to become a nurse in a global setting, volunteering at the non-profit Γιατροί του Κόσμου, or Doctors of the World, offered me the opportunity to both see the real side of Greece and get a better understanding of a foreign health care system. As it turned out, the clinic was the perfect place to do just that.
I first heard about Γιατροί του Κόσμου through a friend in my study abroad program, College Year in Athens. She had interned there the previous semester and had had an incredible experience, even though she was not pursuing a healthcare career. Immediately, I was drawn in by her description of the organization: you worked shoulder to shoulder with the nurses and provided care to the poor Greeks and immigrants, and consequently, saw all the nitty-gritty daily issues that these underserved populations experience.
The Athens Omonia site of Γιατροί του Κόσμου has a diverse team from all walks of life including, but not limited to, surgeons, general doctors, endocrinologists, cardiologists, OB/GYN’s, pharmacists, nurses, administrations and an arsenal volunteers. The nurses and doctors I have gotten to work with come from diverse backgrounds: many are students hoping to eventually go in to the medical field, others are retired, and still others also work part time at another medical facility.
My responsibilities varied depending on which doctors are at the clinic, and the type of patients being seen. From morning to early afternoon, patients come for everything from abscessed fingers needing draining, open cuts for bandaging, or infected wounds in serious need of cleaning. The range of ailments seen at the clinic are almost as diverse at the types of patients. During this time I jumped in wherever I could to assist the doctors and nurses in any way possible to provide their patients with adequate care.
As it turns out, Γιατροί του Κόσμου provided some of the most meaningful memories of my time in Greece. Working at the clinic, I saw the extremes of emotions. From an immigrant man who had his feet amputated after living in an internment camp to a native Greek in near diabetic coma, to a woman hearing her baby’s heart beat for the first time, each day brought all kinds of highs and lows, adding up to an incredible experience that I will always be thankful for. Looking back at my experience I honestly say that I have seen the real side of Greece, and even in the not-so-pretty parts, there is beauty. I hope I will be able to return to Greece one day to go back to the clinic and rekindle the many friendships that started at Γιατροί του Κόσμου. After volunteering at the organization for a semester, it is clear to me that the organization embodies the spirit of Greece: it is strong, compassionate, and it endures.
The Wood of Illissia (‘Alsos Illission’) is one of the largest urban parks in Athens and, I would say, one of the least known as well, at least for those who don’t live around this area. It is located in the eastern part of the City of Athens and continues further east to the municipalities of Kaisariani and Zografou. The “University of Athens” and the “National Technical University of Athens” have moved their campuses here, in the easternmost part of the park. The campuses are not open to the public for most of the day (not that there is really anything interesting to see there). Further east they connect with the Ymittos Mountain which enjoys a protected area status.
We decided to take a walk in the main part of Illissia Wood, the one closest to the center of Athens, a few Sundays back, in the midst of the July heat. The park has many entrances, one of which is at the NorthWest edge, right next to the church of Agios Charalambos and Agia Varvara, at the corner of Ionos Dragoumi & Iridanou Streets.
This is clearly a wood, more than a typical urban park, although you will see some attempts at landscaping part of the area, with paved corridors, built benches or water faucets, most of which are functioning (although we chose not to drink from there and instead had some bottled water with us). It is mostly pine, cypress and carob trees that you’ll see; typical Mediterranean vegetation.
The wood seems to be frequented by many dog owners and their four-legged friends. I have noticed this both times I’ve been here: On a weekday morning and during this Sunday afternoon.
There are uphill paths that take you to several clearings in the wood, which provide interesting views to the hills of Athens and the mountains surrounding it.
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By Danielle Gatapia
I don’t even know where to begin with what I have already experienced in Athens, nor do I know how to say it!
Everyone here is incredible to say the least. The first day alone I met nearly everyone in the program. I met Suzannah on the taxi to the apartments. I met Carolyn, Rachel, and Colleen at our flat. I met Kimberly and Phoebe while working with Piccell. I met Amber simply because she spun around and just started chatting me up. Everyone threw a ‘hello’ and a ‘how are you my way’ that I felt right at home. And let me remind you, that this all happened on the first day!
View from the Academic Center.
But one of my favorite parts of the first day in Greece was Greek night! We ate Greek food, we learned Greek dances, we enjoyed life like the Greeks do! Yiannis and Zoe, teachers of traditional Greek dance, came in and showed us some moves. Some people were naturally talented and would grab anyone near them and help them with their footing. The others who had two left feet stood in the back giggling, trying to teach one another. But nonetheless, we were all enjoying ourselves and getting to know one another.
Me with the Evzone—the national guard.
The next day was our taverna dinner. At the taverna, several professors and a good handful of students went to a restaurant and basically chowed down on every single recipe offered on the menu. It was a great opportunity to meet people and get to know them better! Oh, and an awesome chance to try all the Greek food! I ate tzatziki. I ate lamb. I ate Greek salad, meatballs, cheese pie. I can’t even tell you all that I ate because I. Ate. It. All.
Eating at the taverna—yum!
I’ve made it sound like all we’ve done is hang out with one another and eat. I mean, we have been doing that, but CYA and Greece have offered so much more than food and friends. CYA gave us a packet of extracurricular throughout the city we could join. The options range from sports to volunteering to hobbies like cooking, singing, or anything else we can imagine. CYA wants us to be involved with Greece and Greece is ready to embrace us.
CYA offered us Modern Greek survival classes where we learned basic communication skills like how to say hello, how to order food, and how to ask and answer general questions. Once we got the gist of things, they brought us to a farmers market. It stretched forever and every inch of space was occupied with a fruit, vegetable, or fish stand! I got some of the freshest fruit I’ve ever had and I must say, I brushed up on my Greek fairly well!
So I’ve mentioned how the people embrace one another. I’ve talked about how CYA welcomes us. Greece itself opens her arms to us. Every where the culture seeps through. We walk past the Arch of Hadrian or the Temple of Zeus every night we walk to dinner. We can see the Panathenaic stadium from our classrooms. We can admire the Acropolis from nearly every part of the city. On top of that, the Acropolis, the Acropolis museum, the Agora, the Kerameikos cemetery, the National Archeological museum, and so many other monuments, museums, and historical landmarks are literally at our fingertips. Not only does the history welcome us, but the locals, too. I’ve had baristas teach me names of desserts and explain what’s inside. I’ve made friends simply from walking to and from my apartment. I’ve had strangers (now friends) come up to me and help me with my Greek homework.
Me, Rachel Grande, Colleen Lovely, David Jimenez, Carolyn Sowa, and Michelle Diagle at the Temple of Zeus
We are here to learn history, ethnography, or a language, but simply because we are here, Greece is teaching us more than we probably know.
Danielle Gatapia is pursuing degree in Classics at Creighton University and is a CYA Fall 2014 student!
As a breakthrough of experimental archeology can be viewed the team project “First Mariners,” who built a raft by using only organic materials and copies of Paleolithic tools, and travelled on it from Kythira to Crete island, thus confirming archaeologists’ assumptions that Paleolithic populations were able to cross large shipping distances with their own makeshift boats.
The First Mariners’ team started its journey with the raft named “Melida” from Kythira on July 17 and completed its venture by arriving in Chania, Crete on July 19.
The team was led by the 73 year-old historian and writer, Bob Hobman, who has built, filmed and navigated native craft through Indonesia’s Spice Islands and the Pacific for four decades.
The reason behind this pioneering project was the recent discovery of stone tools at Plakias on Crete’s south western corner and on its neighbouring island of Gavdos, which were dated to at least 130,000 years earlier. Until this discovery in August 2010, archaeologists had thought that human presence on the Greek islands began some 12,000 years.
enowned Dutch palaeontologist Paul Sondaar was the only person who had serious doubts about the 12,000 BC inhabitation of Crete and believed that Crete’s unique dwarfed animals -hippos and elephants and a menagerie of other exotic creatures- became extinct about 125,000 years ago, largely because of man’s presence on the island.
The myths, magic and monsters of ancient Greek lore are coming to life in the BBC’s new fantasy-adventure series “Atlantis” — from the unlikely setting of a former frozen-food warehouse in Wales.
A vast space once stuffed with supermarket foodstuffs has been turned into a television studio, filled with sets recreating the fabled lost city, complete with temples and terracotta-roofed houses, ceremonial bull ring and regal palace.
“Atlantis,” which starts on BBC America Saturday, is already a sizable hit in Britain, where it fills the family-viewing weekend slot previously occupied by sword-and-sorcery series “Merlin.”
“Atlantis” was created by some of the same team as “Merlin,” and like that show takes age-old stories and seasons them with humor, thrills and a central bromance.
Actor Mark Addy, who plays a less-than-heroic version of Hercules in “Atlantis,” says the recipe involves “a lot of heart and a lot of humor and a huge amount of action and adventure.”
“They wanted it to be epic in scale and in feeling, and that’s what they’ve managed to do,” he said during a break on a busy day’s filming in August.
“We’re doing stuff that you’d only ever see in movies, because it’s difficult and it’s expensive and it’s time consuming and it’s challenging,” Addy said of the 13-part series, shot over nine months in Wales and Morocco.
“Atlantis” opens with a young man named Jason — played by the strapping, curly haired Jack Donnelly — washing up in the city of Atlantis, disoriented but somehow instantly at home. The Oracle — there’s always an oracle — hints at big secrets to be revealed.
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