After a nice nap on the ride from Athens to Paris we were ready to get to our gate and head back to the US… then we hit passport control.
Now we are all at the gate and it looks like we are on time to get back to Atlanta. Hopefully the weather cooperates so we can get back to Springfield about 10:30 tonight.
Unfortunately, today was our last full day in Greece 😦 We left Aegina early this morning to head back to Athens. When we got back to the mainland, we volunteered at what use to be an airport and where the 2004 Olympics were held. During our time here, we learned that this organization help refugees directly. The organization got donations from all over the world to help benefit the refugee that would come into Greece. The donations that this organization would get would be shoes, clothing, food, tents, diapers for babies, and all other donations that would help these refugees get back on their feet.
Within the four hours we were helping at this organization, we helped organize and sort sweaters, shoes, tents, food, and diapers. The group that helped sort the diapers put about 11,000 diapers into about 960 ziplock bags! The group who sorted the sweaters counted and sorted about 1800 different sweaters into boxes.
Once we got back to our place to stay the night, some of us were able to do some last minute shopping for family and friends. We also spent time looking back on the last two weeks seeing how much we enjoyed our time here.
For our last full day on the island, the class traveled to the other side of Aegina, to one of the Paths of Culture that is located on the southeast side of the island not far from the coast. We were tasked with clearing this trail to make it easier for anyone who would like to enjoy the hike. We set out with different tools, such as mattock axes (a gardening hoe with an axe head on the opposite side), loppers (large hedge trimming shears), and handsaws so that we could clear overhanging limbs, overgrown shrubs, and roots/small stumps in the way of the path. We traveled along the 6 kilometer path all while whacking away at the brush! Periodically, there is a group on the island that comes to clear the trails little by little, and our contribution of clearing almost an entire path in one morning was greatly helpful. We got the best of both worlds today, getting to hike the trail ourselves while being productive and clearing the way for others that come after us. The trail was filled with surprises along the way, from lizards, scorpions, and even a few goat skulls!
Today the group volunteered at Aegina Ethelontis building a community garden and sorting through donations. Aegina Ethelontis is fantastic for the island as they provide over 160 meals for local families every month, they also have a thrift store people come by and shop at twice a week.
The garden that was planted in the previous years was very over grown, so to start we had to till up all the land. Once we turned up all of the dirt and picked all the weeds the fun really started. While one group created the rows, the rest of us did a lot more work as we dug the holes, placed fertilizer, and planted the onions/lettuce. Once finished we planted over 200 heads of lettuce and onions.
While most of the group was busy planting the garden a couple others were sorting clothes. The people who run the organization were very thankful for this work as they said it would have took them almost a week with what the other students did in a couple hours.
After we all finished we were thanked with bread and local mountain tea. The work we did for Aegina Ethelontis was very important for them and everybody they have an impact on in the community. There are a lot of struggling families at this time in Greece and special places like Aegina Ethelontis make it a little easier for them.
On the way back to have a lecture half the group went to the coast to visit an ancient grave site from the battle of Salamis. This battle was mainly a naval battle between the Greek city-states and the Persians. The outnumbered Greeks ended up defeating the Persians and the soldiers who lost there life were returned to their home land.
Once everybody returned from volunteering and lunch we had a lecture. In the lecture we discussed the importance of things like a community garden and making sure everybody has the necessities for survival, at home and abroad. This was a very important day for the group as we potentially impacted hundreds of lives by only donating a small amount of our time. So a big thank you to the people of Aegina Ethelontis for allowing us to help and for all the good they provide!
Today we had the pleasure of learning how to cook a Greek meal. Rena is a wonderful cook and took the time to teach us college students some of her cooking secrets and share a couple of her recipes, which might I add Greeks never do.
Before the cooking class began though, we had to get the needed ingredients. Five of us took the brave challenge of going to the grocery store and finding the ingredients. This was a little bit of a task because all of the names of the ingredients were in Greek.
After we acquired all of the needed ingredients from the grocery store and butcher, we met back with the others at the Drury center to start our cooking lesson.
Austin learned an onion has to be peeled before it’s cut lol
Most of us got in on the action cutting various vegetables, stirring ingredients together in the pot, and cleaning pots when they needed to be reused. While we were waiting for our meal to be baked in the oven we played a game using the social change model. Dr. Simmerman tested us on the terms we had learned about the 7 c’s of social change in a fun and exciting way.
After everything was prepared and cooked, we enjoyed a wonderful meal together as a Drury family. Big thanks to Rena for cooking us a great Greek home-cooked meal. It was delicious!
Today was filled with many adventures, starting with our group watching the “blessing of the waters” this morning. This is a tradition for the priest to throw a cross into the water on the day of the Epiphany, and the swimmer who reaches the cross first is said to be blessed for the whole year.
The remainder of the day we were split into two groups on the island; the group of students who stayed in Aegina this weekend, then me and Dr. Simmerman. The large group biked to the olive grove and visited some World War II bunkers.
Dr. Simmerman and I had a long walk around the island, and took in many of the beautiful sights. We saw more pistachio trees than one could imagine, as well as olive trees.
We passed by an old orphanage, and visited the school that was painted previously by some study abroad students a few years back.
While walking back, we couldn’t help but notice how beautiful the Mediterranean Sea always is.
We also saw some crazy trees that seemed as if they were throwing up over the side of the ledge.
After everyone had returned, the day had a little hiccup when Bree had to go to the hospital after being bitten by a dog. Luckily it was nothing major, and she was in the clear!
Today we (Dalton and Cam) woke up to a winter wonderland in Zürich, Switzerland. We began our morning with a commute to the local McDonalds for some high class breakfast. After, we stumbled around town until we found a nice park accompanying Lake Zürich. The view was great and the locals were out and about. Later we discovered an old Hürlimann Brewery that was converted into a Thermal Bath Spa. It was simply amazing! Once we got inside and changed into our swimsuits, we immediately walked down to the basement and found ourselves relaxing under hundred-year-old vaulted stone ceilings in giant wooden thermal-bath vats modeled after the barrels in the former brewery. The vats had massaging jets and bubble seats. Oh and did I forget to mention, the mineral rich thermal water is drawn from the famous “Aqui” springs, deep beneath the city of Zürich! We soon moved on to a meditation pool with underwater music and then made our way to a steamy, aroma-filled sauna room. While all of that was exciting, we saved the best for last. The pinnacle of the experience was relaxing in the open-air thermal pool on the roof of the old brewery, while taking in the panoramic view over the city of Zürich, surrounded by the mountains in the distance. There is nothing quite like having snow fall on your head while the rest of your body is submerged in warm heaven-like water! (All photos of spa were taken from Spa’s website as phones are not allowed inside.) http://www.thermalbad-zuerich.ch/