First full day in Athens – Day 11

We started out our day with breakfast at the hotel before we took off with Dimitri, our bus driver, and Faye, our tour guide!

During our bus ride to our sight seeing this morning Faye gave us a lot of fun facts about the city of Athens. 


Today we visited the Temple of Poseidon. We walked around the temple for about an hour while trying not to get blown away! 


After visiting the temple we got spoiled for lunch. We dined at ταβέρνα τσολιάς over bread, fried zucchini and eggplant, fries, tzatziki, pork, lamb, chicken and a special Greek dessert! 


After we made it back to the hotel, we all went our separate ways. A few of us went shopping in Syntagma Square.. needless to say we are done spending money!! 


We are ready for our full day of touring tomorrow. 

-Abbey Lejong

Back to Athens – Day 10

We started our very early morning with a fairy ride back to Athens. Before we left Aegina we got to see a great deal of snow on the ground and on the cars-a very unusual occurance for the island as you may have previously read. They even closed all the schools in Aegina due to the “extreme weather conditions.” 

Once we arrived back in Athens, we quickly dropped off our luggage at our new home for the remainder of our time in Greece and headed to volunteer. We had the privilege of volunteering at the refugee camp for a few hours. They store all of the donations they receive from different countries such as Spain, Ireland, Poland, Northern Greece, and many others in an abandoned basketball stadium. They have boxes stacked all the way to the ceiling in most areas throughout the airport as you can see in the picture below. 


This is a picture of the basketball stadium inside that was actually used in the 2004 olympics. We were lucky enough to get to sneak a peak of the gym and take a few pictures before getting back to work. 


We sorted clothes, shoes, sleeping bags, tents, and many more items in order to help organize and prepare items that will be needed over the next few weeks as it continues to get colder. It was an extremely eye opening experience for us to see how many donations are being sent from all over the world and to realize the magnitude of effect that all volunteers have during this crisis. 


We also got a chance to see some of the refugees playing outside on this cold day. The remainder of the refugees are housed in the abandoned airport, old hockey stadium, and baseball stadium. You can see the airport in the above picture. There  are currently 1,500 people living in the camps. 

After we finished volunteering, we took the tram back to the square near our hotel and most of us were ecstatic to find those two Golden Arches, also known as, McDonald’s. Nothing cures homesickness like a quarter pounder and a large fry. 

We are looking forward to the next few days of tours in Athens!! 
Jenna Mitchell 

Last Day in Aegina!

Today was our last day on the island, and unfortunately it was an extremely cold one. However, this did not stop us from exploring the last landmarks the island had in store for us. 


Our first stop was a local church (temple) where we received a brilliant history lesson on the ideology and origins of the Greek Orthodox Church. 


Father Constantine (left), born in St. Louis, led the history lesson in a larger-than-life fashion. It was truly a privilege to receive such a once in a lifetime lecture. We were all humbled by this experience and found ourselves more engaged than we had anticipated. 

Next, we walked over to the Aegina Volunteer Center where we took on multiple tasks to help out the community. We split into groups and engaged in multiple activities including; pouring olive oil, sorting shoes, moving donation items to be transported via truck, and boxing glass products.


After that, we took turns in groups of six to travel to the Sanctuary of Aphaia on Aegina.


Worship on this sanctuary’s grounds date back to around 1300 BC. The sanctuary lies above the headland of Ayua Marina on a hill offering a panoramic view over the sea. 


Standing on the grounds of ancient worship was truly life changing. All around us was history dating back to Before Christ. We were able to touch Greek structures you have only seen in cinema.


With a full day of history and volunteering behind us, it is now time to pack up and prepare ourselves for an 8:45AM ferry back to Athens. Aegina has been so good to us (despite the cold), and the experiences it provided us will always be cherished.

– Matt Fry

Day of Rest . . . and Budgeting

After waking up from yesterday’s adventure, we found nature had taken a toll on our bodies. Wind biting, feet throbbing, our week in Aegina winding down—this was the perfect day to take advantage of the luxurious heating upstairs in the Drury Center and capitalize on the opportunity to work on our finance projects.

imag0038We spent our time budgeting and budgeted our time planning our financial future.

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We dined on the waterfront and managed to take a picture off the pier before the sun crept behind the mountains.

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As our weekend came to an end, we are rested, rejuvenated, and ready to begin the next week of volunteering to promote social change!

For the upcoming week:

  • Tomorrow we spend our last day in Aegina
  • Tuesday we leave for Athens
  • Saturday we head to London
  • Sunday morning we fly home

The Mountain- Day 7

Saturday Jan. 7th, 2017

Today was a cold day. As we awoke, we were greeted with a sprinkle of snowfall, an occurrence that has not happened in Aegina in 15 years. The locals, all bundled up in their winter gear, began making snowmen on the hoods of their cars. Despite the potential driving hazard this could cause, the entire town was awe of this rare site.

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Two of our fellow companions have traveled to Rome for the weekend, leaving the rest of us 10 in the winter wonderland that is Aegina. I would like to say that we all just sat around in our pajamas, sipping hot chocolate, nestled warmly by the fire.. but then I would be lying. Despite the blistering cold, the group decided to brave the blistering cold… and climb a mountain.

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Mount Oros to be exact.

As the afternoon began, we started our trek across the hillside.

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So we walked.

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Then we stopped.. at an old Byzantine Church that was built over a temple dedicated to Zeus. We took a little breather as we bore our first casualty. (RIP Abbey’s Patagonia)

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Then we walked some more.

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And some more.

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Oh look, we’re still walking.

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 Hours of climbing and thousands of steps later we made it to the top of Mount Oros. Our shoes may have been muddied, but our spirits were not broken. We could have sat inside all day and done nothing, but we decided to make the most of this rare, snowy day. As a result, I think we all appreciate the beauty of this island all the more and I am thankful that I got to experience this adventure with such wonderful people.

-Josiah Klassen

So begins the weekend…and free time!

Greetings! This post is by Dr. Katie Gilbert–I am one of the lucky faculty members who had the opportunity to join students on this trip. While Dr. Simmerman has been teaching the business course, I have been responsible for much of the service work. So, I want to say to all of the parents of students out there: Thank you so much for sharing your (adult) children with us on this trip! They have impressed me so much with their go-getter attitude, good cheer, independence, and willingess to jump into every task that has been given to them. They have made food in soup kitchens; planted a vegetable garden that will help to feed many families on the island during the year ahead (especially important right now during continued austerity measures); organized many, many toys and boxes to help the Aegina Volunteers prepare for a move to a new office; painted window edges and a large gate; packed bags of dry and canned goods that will go to families in need on the island; and bottled a tremendous amount of olive oil and laundry soap for distribution to families. We spent some of last night’s wrap-up talking about social change, how this trip has affected their own thoughts on how they can make a positive difference, and the ways they might become involved back home. I was moved by their reflections and honesty. My informal conversations with students have merged ideas about economic systems and structures, community and service, the possiblilities for a Grexit, the rise–and perhaps halting–of globalism, idealism versus pragmatism, (my own, sometimes meandering, thoughts on the variations in structures between Marxism, Capitalism, and Socialism) and more, and I have truly enjoyed learning from them as they share their own outlooks on and knowledge of the world. So, thank you again for sharing your offspring with us–they have made this trip a joy for all!

They recevied a well-deserved break this afternoon, and will have free time through the weekend. Our final grprocession-2oup event took place this morning, on the Feast of the Epiphany. This day marks the official end of Christmas in Greece. It is also known as “Ton Foton,” which means “The Festival of Light.” In the Greek Orthodox Church, this day celebrates the announcement of Christ as the Messiah, and as the second person in the Trinity.back-of-priest

It also marks his baptism. So, the celebration at the port this morning involved…swimming! The Greek Orthodox Church performs “The Blessing of the Waters” in this event. After a procession and some singing, the priest throws a large cross into the sea. On the other dock, a row of young men dive into the water, and race to catch it.

jumpThe one who does so brings the cross to the priest and receives a blessing. He is thought to have a year of good luck ahead of him. Fisherman also receive blessings, and sometimes doves are released once the swimming and blessings are complete. swimming

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Afterwards, students dispersed and went on their own afternoon adventures. One group went to an archaeological site, The Hill of Kolona. It consists partly of a hill with one single column (in Greek, column is “kolona”). As this site (http://www.aeginagreece.com/aegina/pages/sights/hill_of_kolona_with_museum.html) explains  the one column is the “last remnant of a Doric Temple of Apollo, which was torn down with others – because they were deemed idolatrous – in the 4th century AD.”

I went on a hike to vist an olive grove (Ancient Elaionas) containing trees that are over 400 years old. It was breathaking, with views like this one, that cover valley, field, and sea all at once. olive

Students are socializing at the center tonight, and planning more adventures for the  next two days as they hike, bike, and walk about the island. Stay tuned…!

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–Dr. Katie Gilbert, Associate Professor of Literature and Languages, Director of the Humanities and Ethics Center at Drury

AEGINA – DAY FIVE

We began day five by splitting into groups for our service project. One group stayed at the refurbished retirement home to help paint a massive gate. The other group went further up the island to help pack food, toys, and furniture so the the organization we have been assisting could move their storage facilities.

After this we went back to our apartments where Dr. Simmerman had cooked us a giant meal to congratulate all the hard work we had done.

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Finally, some of us ended the day with a bike ride along the coast.

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– Isaac Weber