An update from Claire
We have been in Northern Greece now for almost five days. It is beautiful here, although much of the land is rural and poor. However, the beauty of the landscape, ocean, food and white-washed villas with red-tiled roofs seems to keep us busy!!
We flew in to Thessaloniki, which is a large city on the Northwestern coast of Greece. It was very warm, as you can imagine, since Greece is in the middle of a severe heatwave this summer. Some days, locals say, it gets as hot as 110 degrees, so we are naturally by the beautiful Mediterranean beaches every chance that we get.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy getting to our resort in Gerakini, a small village on the middle Southeastern coast, as it was getting from London to Greece. We got lost, and what should have taken us an hour car trip to the hotel took us about four hours. Needless to say, we nearly saw this entire country and met every local who owned a gas station and didn’t speak English. However, we finally got to Gerakini late Wednesday afternoon and didn’t waste any time in getting out to the beach.
The majority of our time in Greece was spent at the Center for Disease Prevention and Medical Research in Ormylia, a small village about 10 miles up in the hills away from Gerakini. The center co-hosted a breast cancer workshop along with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure foundation.
As communication students attending this workshop with over 40 delegates from Egypt, Greece, Syria, Bosnia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Srpska, our job was to brainstorm with these doctors and advocates ideas about how to build better communication for their countries about breast cancer, prevention care and education. Many of these countries face cultural and religious barriers, so our mission is finding how we as communicators can get the message to the people who need to hear it.
When the workshop research is done at the end of the day, it is one of the first times that the 15 students who left London to come to Greece have been able to rest! It is amazing how easily you can fall asleep on a sunny beach, with Mediterranean water lapping against a sandy and rocky shore when all your energy and enthusiasm are drained from the cold and rainy London weather!
It’s beautifully simple here, which allows us to be easily focused on relaxing when we are not working. However, it is equally difficult to have any outside contact with the rest of the world. It is rare to get internet access, there are only three ATMs in a 200-mile circumference and calling home is a little unheard of. So watching CNN International in English is as exciting as celebrating Christmas morning.
Greece and London have been a great experience, and we have met amazing people from all over the world. However, I definitely look forward to coming home, but I have many great stories to share!!