Blog by Philip Palios, Culture Literature and the Arts, JSIS: Greece in Relation to Europe and the Balkans: Travelers, Migrants, and Tourists
My grandfather arrived in Seattle while working as a chef on an oil tanker in 1953. He was far from his home on the Greek island of Chios, but decided to jump ship and start a new life in America. When my father tells me this story, he reminds me that “immigration was different back then.” Throughout my life, I have learned about my Greek heritage and formed a strong appreciation and curiosity about the country and its culture. I have wanted to visit Greece for many years, but have never had the opportunity. So, when I was browsing study abroad listings, the Jackson School of International Studies (JSIS) spring break program in Greece struck my interest.
Dr. Taso Lagos has been leading study abroad trips to Greece for the past twelve years. The theme of the program has changed over time, but always focuses on particular social issues. Last summer, the focus was on discrimination against the Roma people living in Greece. In addition to being the most discriminated against people in the country, the Roma face similar discrimination throughout the world. The summer program worked with the Greek government and the Roma people to better understand the conflict and possibilities for reconciliation. This theme will continue to be explored through hands-on learning during the spring break program and was a key reason for my choice to apply.
Discrimination and violence against ‘the other’ has existed throughout history and my education thus far has helped me learn about the many forms in which it has occurred. Lately, my interests have evolved to focus on the cultural history of conflict and specifically the artistic ways in which the oppressed respond to their circumstances and fight for justice. It is through this lens that I intend to learn more about the Roma.
I am delighted to be participating in the JSIS spring break program in Greece and to receive the UW Bothell Study Abroad Scholarship. As a UW Bothell Study Abroad Ambassador, I will be writing blog posts leading up to, during and following my trip to Greece. My posts will discuss what I learn about the conflict in Greece, my experience amidst Greek culture, the natural and built environment, as well as the practicalities of my journey. I will also be sharing lots of photos and videos.
In preparation for the program, I am taking a course on “Greece Today” taught by Dr. Nektaria Klapaki (who will also be co-leading the spring break trip with Dr. Lagos). As my March 13th departure approaches, I will be sharing what I learn in this course as it relates to the study abroad program as well as my experience preparing for the trip. Stay tuned!