Cultivating Philhellenes

An educational organization's study abroad programs in Greece attract many American students

Many come to Greece for the sunshine and fun-filled nights at island beach bars. But there are also thousands of young people who have sought a deeper connection. These are American university students who came to study in Greece for a few months, and whose lives and careers have been deeply affected by the experience. College Year in Athens, an educational organization that offers study abroad programs in Greece through its Greek affiliate, DIKEMES, has had a catalytic influence on the lives of more than 8,000 who came to study “things Greek” in the past 53 years.

JULIA HOLTZ (fall 2013), Fulbright Teaching Fellow at the Hellenic American Educational Foundation.
For me, Greece is so much more than the sun-kissed, picture-perfect postcard of blue-and-white. Greece is a wake-up call: to live more slowly, more generously and more appreciatively. One piece of advice I’d offer to future participants of CYA is to do what Socrates did: examine your life and ask lots of questions. Learn as much as possible, not only about Greece’s impressive history and culture, but also about its lifestyle, particularly people’s remarkable optimism, generosity and resilience in the face of the current economic crisis.”

NICHOLAS T. KONDOPRIAS (full year 1987-88), Executive Director, Herakleidon Museum, Athens, Greece
“What I value most about my CYA experience is that I was given the opportunity to study the classics as well as Greek history under the guidance of such knowledgeable and passionate professors. The many onsite field trips made the learning experience even more stimulating. The best advice I can give to future participants is to immerse themselves as much as possible in the culture of Greece and to take advantage of all travel opportunities.”

PROF. THOMAS W.GALLANT (full year 1975-76), Historian
“I have the honor of holding the Nicholas Family Endowed Chair of Modern Greek History at the University of California, San Diego, and if it were not for my experience studying at CYA in 1975 that would never have happened. My time at CYA started a personal and professional odyssey that continues after 40 years. On a personal level, coming to Greece for the first time allowed me to visit the village in Epirus where my mother was born and to meet all of my relatives there and in Athens. Professionally, as well as introducing me to Greek history and archaeology, CYA was also where I met the professor who would become my doctoral supervisor at Cambridge University. CYA encourages students to engage with Greece across the span of time from antiquity to the present.In my case, the result of that broad-ranging approach is that I have now published close to a dozen books on ancient and modern Greek history. In no small measure, my professional success was built on the intellectual foundations laid during my year at CYA.”


GEORGE MESTHOS (spring 2008), Foreign Service Officer at the US Department of State
“College Year in Athens strikes a perfect balance between fascinating courses and time to discover the country for yourself. For me, Greece is multi-layered; it is the ancient civilization I studied, the old country my great-grandparents left behind, and the new world I was exposed to through College Year in Athens that carried me to a Fulbright Fellowship, journalism and now diplomacy.”

ZOE KONTES, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Classics, Kenyon College, Ohio, USA
The courses I took there ignited my passion for Greek culture, both ancient and modern, and all the ways they intersect. It is truly wonderful to see this same passion in my students when they return from their own studies and adventures with CYA. For me, Greece is a second home.”

JACK HERMANSEN (full year 1970-71), Founder and former CEO, Language Analysis Systems, Inc (acq.); IBM Distinguished Engineer (ret.)
Almost 45 years ago, I arrived in Greece with 50 other students to attend College Year in Athens. Many of us formed such close friendships from the ensuing nine-month experience that we eagerly look forward to annual CYA reunions.We all continue to travel to Greece as schedules and finances allow, but what CYA has given each of us is a common bond and an awareness of the world we live in that far transcends a geographical journey. More than a country and even more than the expression of its wonderful people, Greece is a compelling and exhilarating idea.

DAVID E. JIMENEZ (full year 2014-15), Rising Senior at Bowdoin College
Many speak of the impending decline, if not collapse, of Greece; I will leave such predictions to others, but what I do know is this: No matter what happens, the sun will continue to shine on Kalamata, which will always produce the finest olive oil and honey. There will still be the coffee shop where old men play with their worry beads, sip Greek coffee and debate politics. The sea will remain blue. Ancient and Byzantine ruins will stand. Villages will be as picturesque as ever. And Greek virtues of hospitality, loyalty and family will endure. In other words, despite its seemingly endless tribulations, this corner of the Aegean will always serve as a vivid reminder of truth, beauty and goodness. Even the present crisis, with all its hardships, has inspired some positive changes. Perhaps the most important one is the development of numerous non-profit organizations and community projects I’d highly recommend to future participants of CYA to discover this network of charities and groups; you will not only gain a deeper understanding of the economic crisis, but you will come to know heroic and extraordinary individuals.”

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