Monday, March 21, 2011

University of MN on Global Volunteers program in Greece

Friday, March 18th, 2011:
Last full day today. Awoke and gathered in the lobby in our usual fashion, trickling in just before or just after 8am. Had our breakfast, stared at the clouds which look full and threaten rain and discussed the previous nights’ adventures. The bus arrived on time and we trundled up the mountain one last time. By now the people of the center are used to our presence and shouts of Kali-Mera! greet our entrance. We finished some crafts, had some delicious Greek pastries provided by the center and then went up the hill to practice parade marching in anticipation of St. Spiro’s participation in the Easter parade. After a couple turns around the circle we joined in the fun and marched with them.

It is amazing, at least to me, the way these people so easily let us in to their lives, allowing us to come in, sit with them at their table, use their materials and participate in their activities – all without argument, judgement or a second thought – we were included by them. There’s a lesson in that.

After parade practice we got a surprise, a trip down the mountain a little ways to the local monastery. We paired up, held hands and proceeded down. The monastery was quiet, serene, peaceful as well as beautiful. Quite a setting there up in the mountains. We were treated to candies and a hearty ring of the bell by the nuns present. We were allowed to roam a bit and take photos, an opportunity we made good use of. After our visit we passed back through the stone archway and up the winding road to the St. Spiro center once again.

We took some more photos, had some small conversation and played basketball for a few minutes and then it was time for lunch for the people at the center. Aphrodite was particularly aware that it was time for us to say goodbye and posed for many photos with us as well as giving most of us hugs. As the bus pulled away we got yet more waves from some of the guys who had eaten quick so they could play more basketball. Though it was not a grand farewell it was a fond one.

I think we’ll all remember our brief encounter with the people at St. Spiro, from George the atomic bomb kicking whirlwind to Yanni of Canada fame to Kaite who really loved playing ball, it was a joy to share a brief moment in their lives and share in their spirit of caring and openness. Once back at the hotel we enjoyed what we’ve come to expect, a delicious and filling (or over filling) lunch, with pizza made especially for us.

In the afternoon we went our separate ways, some napping some visiting the beach or going into Gazi or to Carfore one last time for a look around and some chocolate. We then met up to travel into Heraklion for a farewell Gyro dinner. Sam cried when we gave her her winter had which would especially equip her for her next visit to Minnesota when we would all see her again. We all had taken our pictures in the hat as well for an added dimension to the gift which Brook promised to get a college made and a print sent to Sam as a keepsake of our visit. It has been an amazing week with amazing people, both Greek and American, and it has been an experience none of us will ever forget. It has been a week of surprises, both large and small, from finding out we wouldn’t be teaching in the schools, to Sami leaving, to the unexpected treat of the monastery today – there were a lot of twists and turns for a short spring break trip such as this. Through it all the kindness, patience and generosity of everyone we met and the flexibility and willingness to just go with it from the Global Volunteers team means I can confidently report we didn’t just meet our goals but we exceeded them, and we had a great time along the way.

Quote of the Day:

“Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Monday, March 14, 2011

Former Volunteer Posts AMAZING YouTube Videos!!

We at Global Volunteers are privileged to work with so many wonderful volunteers, partners, and supporters each and every day.

Last week, one particular volunteer, Graham, truly knocked our socks off when he shared a 9-part video series he had created about Global Volunteers and posted on YouTube!! These videos feature the travels and experiences of numerous Global Volunteers (particularly one tight-knit group from New Jersey) and we welcome you to take a look at these exceptional videos by using the link below.

Thank you, Graham!! And for the rest of you... ENJOY!!

Global Volunteer Retrospective Video (Greece):