Guest Post By: Human Resources Management Junior Vanessa Buenrostro. She is a Global Business Center Study Abroad Scholarship Recipient who participated in a 2022 Spring Break Exploration Seminar in Greece: “Greece in Relation to Europe and the Balkans – Travelers, Migrants and Tourists”.
After two years of cancelled study abroad programs, I had the opportunity participate in a Spring Break Exploration Seminar through the Jackson School of International Studies hosted by Harvard University’ s Center for Hellenic Studies in Greece. The majority of the program was spent in the city of Athens. We also got to stay in Nafplio for a few days as well as took a day trip to Aegina Island. While in Athens, we got to see historical sites such as the Acropolis of Athens, including the Parthenon. Through the tour of the Acropolis, I learned that it is easy to identify the remodeled parts of the buildings vs. the ancient ones. The remodeled parts are purposely done in another color, usually a lighter color to indicate it has been reconstructed. Days later when we arrived to Nafplio, we enjoyed a more relaxed environment away from the city and visited the Palamidi Castle and Ancient Ruins of Mycenae.
One of the most memorable days was when we got to visit a Roma Settlement in Athens where we got the learn more about the Roma people in Greece- who are said to be the only recognized ethnic minority group in the country. We got to do our own research in groups during our seminar throughout winter quarter prior to going to Greece where we learned about the Roma people. Although they are Greek citizens with access to healthcare, we learned that they are deeply segregated from the Greek community and are stigmatized and face increased levels of poverty and discrimination. It was extremely eye opening to see firsthand what we had learned about in the classroom.
Our exploration seminar was focused on the impact COVID-19 had on Greece and we were able to learn through a hands-on activity. We were split into small groups and assigned to a specific area in Athens, where we were to conduct ethnographic interviews to Greek citizens on the what the impact of COVID-19 was to them and how Greece handled the pandemic. Another impactful activity where I learned more about the effects of the pandemic on Greece was the “Roundtable with Greek COVID Experts.” We got to sit in on a virtual roundtable where we heard from professionals in the frontlines during the pandemic on what their experience was like. I noticed many similarities in Greece on the impact of the pandemic such as the negative effects of being isolated and away from friends and family during lockdown, as well as the positive side like having more time to relax, work/study or learn something new.