Friday, June 19, 2015

At the edge of the Gorge...

The second week of EC EMSS 2015 has been full of surprises, tension, anxiety, wonderful lectures, tremendous experiences and a great deal of learning not only about the politics, culture, history, economy, environment, and food, but most importantly about each other and ourselves. As we are getting ready for our first Cretan night celebration at the Institute and our weekend trek to the Gorge of Samaria, this week we have fully immersed ourselves in our environment and the topics of the program. We have had four guest lectures by regional experts on issues of EU-Mediterranean Relations, Immigration, The Turkish Elections and the Arab Awakening and the situation in the Middle East. Kelsey Ryan, an EC alum, and three of her Fulbright colleagues visited us on Monday evening and led a discussion on their perspective of the Eurozone Crisis, as they have lived and worked in Athens during the past year. Professor Xenakis of the University of Crete visited our program in Alikianos with his students from the University and delivered two wonderful lectures on EU-Mediterranean Relations, and the important issue of Immigration across the Mediterranean. Beril Cakir, another EC alum and a current Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Amsterdam, joined us through SKYPE and delivered an expert analysis on the recent Turkish elections and the implications for the region. Professor Roussos of the University of Peloponnese and Head of the Center for Mediterranean, Middle East and Islamic Studies (CEMMIS), made a presentation on the post Arab Awakening Middle East. We certainly continued our cultural and agricultural excursions, as well as beach discoveries. On Wednesday we trekked through the mountains and visited the historic villages of Zourva and Therisso, ending at the Monestary of Saint Kiriaki. On Thursday we brought our classroom to the Venetian port of Chania after we had visited an Outdoor Market, while that same evening we listened to the live music of Leonidas Lainakis at Poly Texneio. One of the highlights, however, has to have been the visit to the village of Palaia Roumata and the Women's Cooperative that through their volunteer work and the wonderful work of the Mountain Partnership and the Penelope Ghandi mission are reviving the art of weaving in that way forge and encourage economies of small scale and support a wider cultural revival. 

This has been a full week of in class lectures and heated discussions that have sparked much emotion and tension and a great deal of learning about the subject matter and especially about each other. I'm proud of every single student as this is not an easy program and it would not be possible without the consistent support of the Institute of Cretan Studies, Mr. Kapsomenos and the women of the Institute, who are the heart and soul of this entire undertaking.

Dr. Xenakis delivered two captivating lectures on the EU-Mediterranean relationship and the important issue of Illegal Immigration across the Mediterranean.

The 2015 class at the halfway point.

At the Venetian Harbor of Chania, where the crossroads of civilizations and the geopolitical significance
of the island is clearly evident.

The wonderful volunteers at Palaia Roumata are reviving the art of weaving,  and provide a hope
of a new micro-economy and a sense of creativity and pride.

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