Monday, June 15

After waking up to birds and sunshine, I took a walk down to the market near the dormitories. After exchanging minimal, yet significant Greek, I purchase fresh apricots and gleefully share them with friends as we make our way to campus for class. After an walk through this incredible campus, peers and I finally make it to the classroom, greeted by our wonderful teacher Ms. Artemis. She encourages us to take on fully the Greek culture while we travel here, and to let fear go in order to immerse further. We recite the alphabet, and finish class near noon.

Next, our group walks downstairs to take part in a Greek dancing class. Although I struggle with the group dances, as i tend to when dances require rhythm, I let go a little bit when we solo dance. The sun feels incredible against my skin, and with a view over the neighborhood from campus, we dance ourselves all the way to lunch at the campus cafeteria.

After spending free time running errands in the neighborhood, the group dresses and makes our way to a winery in order to visit, dine and try wine. The density of plant life leaves me speechless, and I cannot help but run through vines as the sun sets. I feel as though agriculture, if conducted sustainably and responsibly, carries the capacity to rejuvenate a nation. We taste four types of wine and settle into an incredible dinner. After more dancing, I walk outside to look at the stars and can’t help but shed a tear for the beauty abound. What a day, indeed.

-Erich Eisenhart
Earth, Society and Environmental Sustainability | 2015 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Monday was a very fun day!! First, we were divided into our 3 classes based on our understanding of Greek. Then we had the most awesome experience at our Greek dancing lesson, whether you need nothing or had years of experience, everyone was able to get their feet moving to the beat of the music! It was so nice to even see some people test out the Zimbekiko! Next we were lucky enough to visit a very beautiful winery, Papayiannakos. It was very educational in that we learned all about the process of making wine, then of course the tasting was very delicious! The meal was the best I’ve ever had for myself and the dancing there was magnificent as the sun set! We had the most beautiful evening!

-Gabriella Christy

Monday morning began with the first of our language and culture classes. We split into three different levels. There, we began learning our the Greek language and also the rich culture that comes along with it. After classes finished for the day, we all walked to a different part of ACG’s picturesque campus and together learned the basics of a few particular Greek dances. Some of these dances were “Hasaposerviko”, “Nissiotiko” and the most commonly known “Kalamatiano”. We soon realized that Greek dancing is a very social activity and has a way of bringing people together. There is even a dance that we learned solely led by the improvisation of brave individuals. Expressing oneself in this way is something that brought comfort to many during times of sadness or joy to those simply celebrating life. After roughly two hours of jumping around in a humid, 95 degree day in Athens, we were able to replenish a bit during lunch in ACG’s cafeteria.

Later that night, we loaded the bus and drove to Mesogeia in Attica to a family owned winery by the name Papayiannikou. They were kind enough to invite us into their home for a short wine tasting and dinner to follow. The view outside of their house was breathtaking as it overlooked their vineyard as well as the city of Athens. Mr. Papayiannikou showed us the basics of wine tasting as we tried two different kinds of white wine, one Roset and one red wine. Out of all the wines, the first white wine served, Sabbatiano, seemed to score the best. Sabbatiano is a grape indigenous to Greece and is a favorite among many. Towards the end of our visit at the winery, essentially a test of all the dances we had learned earlier took place. Feeling the energy in the room, it felt as though our group was coming together more and more. This day was an incredible start to the week, and there is so much more to come!

-Stephany Prodromos

Today was wonderful. I got to use some Greek at the Farmer’s Market in the morning, attended my first class at the American College of Greece, learned some Greek dances, and my favorite activity of the day, visited a breathtaking winery. While the winery itself was gorgeous, the wine delicious, and the food tremendous, above all, the company was what made the night. As I danced hand in hand with the other Heritage Greece participants and peers, I quickly realized there was no where else I’d rather be. Every day on this journey has been amazing.. I can only imagine what else is in store for me!

-Pamela Costis

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