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Crossroads Cities: Thessaloniki, Greece & Salem

Crossroads Cities: Thessaloniki, Greece & Salem Image
Raised toward our $5,000 Goal
25 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on June 03, at 10:00 AM EDT
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May 30, 2019

5) SSU students being brought into the life of the city in the evenings by Greek students at Aritotle Universtiy who helped them become comfortable navigating the city on its own—and then watching the SSU students embrace the opportunity to meet and learn from their counterparts during their evening free time every day.


6) Hiking ½ way up Mt. Olympus (7 hours round trip serious hike!!) through the clouds and some snow. Students proving to themselves that they could do so much more than what they thought they could. Enjoying the quiet beauty of this majestic mountain and joining the community of those who seek out its grandeur.


7) Meeting with the US Consul General in Thessaloniki: an hour wide-ranging conversation about the place of northern Greece and the region (bordering Turkey, FYROM, Balkans) in the life of the US and vice versa. Also discussed the ways in which we, as Americans, are part of building bridges of peace and justice as we move through the world.


8) Friday evening gathering with youth leaders in Thess (part of a Youth Municipal Council) to discuss the concerns faced by young people in each country and explore strategies for effecting change. We also met on our last day with two local experts to discuss the outcomes and meaning of last weekend’s EU elections and the current status of both progressive and extreme right wing political parties in the region.


9) Learning about the layered, hybrid history of Thessaloniki through our wanders in the streets and in the museums of the city (Archeology museum, Byzantine Museum, Jewish Museum, the Rotunda with its minaret) and our day-long visit to the tomb of King Philip II ruler of Macedonia – father of Alexander the Great. (prior to visiting the tomb we met with a local olive oil producer, learned about the process and wandered through his olive grove).


10) The students explored the markets, the restaurants, the coffee shops, the nearby beach, the city’s small businesses, the dynamic waterfront, all on their own, trying out the Greek they have learned, embracing and fully engaging with the rhythms of live in this place (slowing down and being present in your interactions with others and not hesitating to share your joy and love) and being humbled and overjoyed by the warm welcome and generosity of the Greek people and the city they found.

PART III of trip Recap/Thank you

May 30, 2019

Here is some of what they said in recaps shared yesterday – their words speak more eloquently than mine. (and they capture the ways in which this trip fit into the overall course begun in January and to be completed when they hand in their final comparative --Salem and Thess -- digital humanities projects in a couple of weeks)


“Our last dinner was extremely bitter sweet. I cannot get over how truly kind everyone is, and how just being here for a week I feel like I could easily establish myself in the community around me. The discussions I had with the students from Aristotle were amazing. I feel like at home I am never able to have these political, cultural, conversations with my friends.... I feel that I am leaving this country with amazing connections, friends, and possible future opportunities in this country to come back...It has truly been a life learning experience to immerse myself in a whole new culture, and spend time with some people I have never talked to before. I am truly grateful that I was able to have this experience and will be able to share everything that I have learned back home. Thessaloniki somehow feels like a second home in a way, even though this is my first time being here.”


“This has been a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am so happy that I took a chance and signed up for this course/trip. I truly fell in love with this city. I will never forget all of the adventures we had or the people we met these past...days. I don’t know if I’ll ever be back, but I would really love to, so we will have to wait and see.”


“This trip has been an amazing experience andit was an amazing way to learn new things and I feel like this course along with your other class...made me open my eyes and pay more attention to the little details and the hidden histories”


“Taking this class has really given me a whole new perspective of the world around me and also made me realize that to a certain degree, I have been taking for granted other countries and how they influence American culture & people...Throughout this entire trip, it has always been the little things that have blown my mind.”


“Overall my time in Greece was AMAZING!!! and I would love to come back. I learned more about another culture, country, and myself. I feel like I was able to reflect more about how interculturally competent I was/am and now I realize I may have thought I was more competent than I actually was an that’s OK! I grew a lot and will continue to grow and learn and reflect. “  


As I wrap up here, I want to thank you, our donors, for helping make this transformative experience possible for students who are working so hard for their education and who have so much to offer the world.  Here is what I shared with them as we left Greece, I hope it helps you better understand why I am invested in this work, and deeply moved by your willingness to help support it. Any additional funds we receive at this point will be kept for next year’s opportunity.


All my best,



My message to the students at the end of our travels:


My greatest joy in life is helping others realize how much they have to offer to the world and how amazing they are. My greatest joy in my professional life is teaching students how to trust themselves enough to take risks (intellectually, personally...) so as to deepen and broaden their understanding of the world we share and see something new that has never been seen before. To create new possibilities. (And to work hard!)


This course and these last ten days have filled me with joy —witnessing each of you stretching and growing in ways you could not have imagined, opening yourselves up to what the world has to offer and offering your own ideas and selves to that world.

Thank you for trusting me. Thank you for taking a risk. Thank you for reminding me why I continue in the role of “professor”.


Keep being fabulous and remember to extend the same curiosity and generosity of spirit that you shared in Greece to those in your daily lives back home. Be the change. And, please let yourselves be ruined for life.

The Course & Trip was a MARVELOUS SUCCESS! Thanks to YOU!

May 30, 2019

Dear donors, [ PART 1 of a few -- the text is long]


It is with a heart full of gratitude that I am writing this update. Last night we returned from our 10 days in Thessaloniki, and I am reflecting this morning on the profoundly life changing experience it was for the students. An experience made possible only because of your generosity.


There were so many amazing moments of intercultural learning and personal transformation, but I share with you here a set of 10 representative experiences to give you a flavor of what you provided. These reflect the set of collaborative workshops, seminars and learning experiences that I developed in collaboration with my co-instructor and counterpart in Thessaloniki. This 10 days was the second half of a course that has been running since January. 


1) A seminar about locative media & augmented reality as a way to uncover/recover hidden histories of past populations on the landscape (in which students learned how to create findable markers telling of untold stories at local historical landmarks) [think: the stories of marginalized populations and an app.]


2) a food tour of Thessaloniki focused on the ways in which the foodways of the city reflect the Ottoman. Muslim, Jewish, Balkan and Middle Eastern influences since the 15th c.


3) trying a range of mezzes at a venue that was a bath during the centuries of the Ottoman empire and being able to embody that space to learn more about public life.

3) Touring the streets of Ana Poli, the upper town, where winding, steep streets hold the memories of lives lived here since 4th c BCE  and walking inside the Roman Agora discussing the relationship between public and private virtues in western culture.


4) Three additional seminars at Artistotle University focused on how to do intersemiotic translation between text, image, sound and three-dimensional space. Exploring the city, its public art, graffiti and history and translating these texts into creative literary forms including haiku and then geo-referencing them. (in one, students crafted shot stories in less than one hour based on historic and contemporary photos and their prior knowledge of the diverse histories of the place. They then learned how to attach the stories to digital maps (I was moved to tears as they read stories filled with pathos and insight far beyond their years weaving stories of Islam, Judaism, Christianity, poverty, gender, refugees and longing…).

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