I arrived in Athens Saturday on my way home from Corfu. I lived in the city for several months in 2016 and 2017, helping refugees who were navigating the traumatic changes in their lives. The experience changed me, and I left with a deep feeling of connection to the city. This visit, I only had one full day and I planned to enjoy it as an anonymous tourist. That didn’t happen!Continue reading
I arrived last week on Corfu, the largest Greek island in the Ionian Sea, Many Americans know it as the setting for books and movies about the Durrells. Some — and you know who you are– know it as a great place for skinny-dipping on the western beaches, circa 1973. The Greeks call the island “Kerkira” after the nymph who spent her honeymoon here with Poseidon. Poseidon’s decision to name the island after his bride isn’t so romantic, however, considering Poseidon kidnapped Kerkira, but pfft, Greek gods.Continue reading
I recently read an article by American journalist, Chris Hedges, which proposed that “societies are held together by a web of social bonds that give individuals a sense of being part of a collective and engaged in a project larger than the self.” https://riseuptimes.org/2018/12/30/american-anomie-by-chris-hedges/
This simple idea reminded me of the many times friends and family have asked me to describe my “volunteer work” with the refugees in Greece or the Caravan in Mexico. I never have a good answer. I say the people I met were kind and grateful in spite of their physical and emotional challenges. I say they were running from persecution created by the neo-liberal world order and forever wars, that some of them played cards on a blanket under a tree.
For kids of all ages, travel provides an education in history, other cultures, other ways of thinking and moving in the world. I knew Bella and Avery would learn a lot on our journey in Europe — but I didn’t realize how much traveling with them might be an education for me.
I wasn’t sure how I would feel being back in Athens. It is a place of such emotional contrasts for me — its wonderful history and the warmth of the Greeks alongside the tragedy that comes with a collapsed economy, not to mention the heat and pollution of summer. But arriving in Athens on Wednesday, I felt a sweet familiarity. Athens was a partner during the life-changing time I was here among a community of refugees. Continue reading
Martin Luther King said “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” I’m not sure about the first half of this quote coming from history-maker Martin Luther King, but I am good with the second half. And for me travel is one of the best ways to learn about what we are made of. Some places are especially good for understanding a little bit about world history, and feeling the past and how it has influenced our world today.
Three years ago, I went to Greece and my life changed. So I wrote about it.
It has been more than two years since I first arrived on the Greek island of Lesvos where overloaded boats brought refugees to the island’s windy beaches. The people in the boats were mostly young and many were children — wet, cold and hungry, escaping war and persecution in their home countries. Continue reading