Greece has been overwhelming, in a positive way of course. There are hardly any words for the things I have witnessed and the moments I will not forget. Everyone always tells you that your Study Abroad experience is life changing (to some degree) but I did not realize how right they would be! While my post is sure to be less entertaining than majority of my classmates due to the lack of beautiful photos and interesting facts, there is a particular moment I have wanted to share.
On day two of our journey, our quaint tour guide Faye shared a thought with us that I cannot seem to let go of: We need to get back to Earth. I guess it is appropriate that I get to blog on the day we did some old fashioned gardening. Anyways, Faye shared this thought while we rode in a big tour bus around the city of Athens with our eyes glued to the windows. She was discussing the all the turmoil in Greece, with much frustration in her voice. Her implication was that the only way for the people of Greece to get back on their feet was to go back to the ground that once provided them with so much life.
I have no good explanation as to why this statement stuck in my mind and heart. Maybe it is because I admire just how much of my life today is designed around the life of a civilization from the 5th century (and before). It would be devastating to me if this culture is not able to survive their current crisis. Or maybe, it is simply because Faye was right. The next few days seemed to circle around her very thought.
We have the privilege of participating in a service project group with a volunteer group on the island of Aegina known as Aegina Ethelontis.
In sum, this group of ladies focuses their time to help over 100 families of Aegina with their basic needs along with tender hearts towards the island; they are involved in many clean-up efforts throughout. Our main project is to help them get on their feet… or keyboards… using Facebook as a way to reach out to the whole island and more in order to display their efforts and find additional helping hands. Monday we will present to them their very own Facebook page along with other suggestions. While this may not seem like a big deal back in the States, these women could not be more appreciative!
Our next effort was to work in a garden that was created by the preceding study abroad group from winter of 2013. The food grown in this garden is given to Aegina Ethelontis so that they can distribute it to the families. The next few photos are proof that college kids know how to do work!
Our next stop was to visit a new business in Aegina called Cool Greek Soap. The young business women and her partner lived in Athens but moved to Aegina to start this business because they realized it made sense to offer a product that their land could provide. They went back to the earth and created a truly, 100% natural product: Olive Oil Soap. The different numbers you see in the photo below are designated to many variations of olive oil, plant oil, natural fragrance, Shea butter, etc., that create soaps of different consistency and purpose. I am very certain all of us walked out of her shop with 5 to 12 boxes of soap in hand. If you’re interested in some soap, you can visit her website at http://www.coolgreeksoap.com. The owner told us that the people of Aegina have been extremely responsive to this idea of going back to an item so dated. It is because she went back to earth, she was able to start a successful business during a financial crisis.
I apologize if you were hoping to find a post full of ancient temples, pretty sunsets, or perhaps another belly flop by Brad Hollenbeck. There are some thoughts a person just has to share. Oh do not be too sad, there will be ANOTHER belly flop coming to you soon. So stay tuned!
So in conclusion to this idea that has flooded my mind, I think it is important to remember that less can be more. We do not need huge skyscrapers to run a successful business nor do we need any government regulating our every step. If we can get our roots back by simply planting a few roots, maybe life can be simple again. That is something I certainly hope my friends here in Greece can figure out, before Faye gets a hold of them, and something I hope my friends back home do not forget. Once upon a time, there was a life much richer than the one we have today because they truly appreciated the ground they walked on and all it could provide.
Thanks for bearing with me. I am going to leave you with a short rendition of Barry Mannilow’s song “At the Copa”, just as I promised Aliki I would. Aliki re-wrote this around the garden and it is all to fitting for my theme. I know my grandmother Betty will appreciate it, at least for the song it originally was.
“Her name was Lola
She was a lettuce
and with filly leaves so fair
she gave every salad flair.
They’d be in salad bars,
side dishes near and far
with thousand island
ranch style, french or with brochette.”