Diversity Abroad – Blog

Semester at Sea- Reflections on Greece

When I boarded the ship earlier this month, I knew I was about to embark on the journey of a lifetime; however, I what I didn’t realize was how quickly my experience would alter my thinking. The World Odyssey pulled into Greece a mere five days ago and within those days I have had the opportunity to explore the beauty of the country and unveil the parts of Athens no one wants you to see.
It was a beautiful sunny day this past Monday morning but instead of seeing an deep blue waters as I had grown accustomed, I was a bulky tan building. I woke up a little earlier than normal because at the last minute I signed up for a field program. It seemed like a good idea because the program I signed up for was an impact tour which is a way for students to make a difference in the community. My program was specifically geared toward the homeless population. We were warned about the scammers who spent their time seeking out and taking advantage of tourist so I was worried about going through with this program. My reaction was similar to what it would of been if I was going to a high crime area in my city. My purse was clutched in front of me as I made my way off of the bus and into the facility and my eyes consistently scanned the room as if they were dancing to the beat of a popular pop song. I was uncomfortable…but I soon realize it wasn’t because I was placed in a position that warranted that response but it was because I was stereotyping the lifestyle and character of those who have unfortunately lost there homes. I was disappointed in my closed mindedness. Through the tour we had one of the gentleman from the home as our guide and he took us to the area of Greece that struggle the most in term of living situations, food, and unemployment. It was eye opening. Most tourist see this city as nothing but a beautiful vacation stop which it is but Greece is in an economic crisis and that part of their story should be acknowledged as well. There are not a lot of available jobs and then they pay is decreasing which is a huge problem, the main thing each person we talked to during the tour and what our tour guide said the most is that the situation isn’t getting any better but worse.
It is my job to take what I have learned about Greece and share it with others to bring as much awareness to the problem as I can which will hopefully spark some changes in the near future. This isn’t about not enjoying what Greece has to offer but understanding that it is more than a place it is a home to millions of people who are being negatively affected but this crisis. This was my first day in Greece and it made my experience following so much better because I was aware and while I was enjoying going to the plaka for a day of shopping, at the beach for a day of relaxation, or snapping countless pictures of the acropolis I didn’t take anything for granted and thats a step in the right direction. I can’t wait to see what more I learn as we go to the upcoming ports and how they will each , in there own way, affect me.