Attracting U.S. Students, Scholars and Researchers to Greece
A rising number of U.S. students and scholars select Greece as an educational destination. The overall aim of the outreach event in Northern Greece within the framework of the U.S. Study Abroad Engagement Grant was to establish some first facts about STEM opportunities in Greece for prospective U.S. students and schoalrs. Students of history and medicine can follow in the footsteps of ancient medical students who flocked to Kos to learn from the father of medicine, Hippocrates. In mathematics and science there are countless examples to inspire young people, including Pythagoras with his Pythagorean Theorem, Democritus and his atomic theory of the universe, and Archimedes, the greatest mathematician of his time and one of the greatest of all time for his remarkable achievements, like his method for determining the volume of irregular shapes through displacement of water among others. For practically every subject there is an ancient root in Greece.
U.S. students today should take advantage of the many study abroad programs available in Greece. The region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace including the islands of Thasos and Samothrace is such a lesser known but enticing destination. The local university, Democritus University of Thrace, is a dynamic institution with some 28.000 students and its emphasis is mostly on the sciences, from engineering to health to agriculture and forestry.
Placement of a U.S. Fulbright Student at the institution was a good start to look into its potential and outcast.
2018-2019 U.S. Fulbright Student Karen Udoh, University of Louisville, KY, selected Democritus University of Thrace to collaborate with the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Alexandroupolis Campus. She relates:
At first it seemed quite daunting, however, when you are in an amazing country like this, 9 months is not even close to enough time to take in all this wonder. Sometimes we simply only focus on the renowned features of Greece such as the islands and ancient ruins, but this country holds much more. For my Fulbright grant, I decided to go up north to a city called Alexandroupolis to conduct microbiology research at Democritus University of Thrace. Working in Dr. Boukouvala’s lab in the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics has truly transformed the way I view research and has taught me many skills that can translate to various aspects of my life. I think it is very important for people to see the type of innovation especially in the field of STEM that is occurring here in Greece and its smaller cities.
On the occasion of Fulbright's outreach to the region, Karen Udoh gave an introduction to local students on U.S. student life, and science education in the U.S. versus Greece.
Her host at Democritus University of Thrace, Dr. Sotiria Boukouvala, Fulbright Alumna and Associate Professor in Molecular Genetics Director, Laboratory of Pharmacogenomics-Toxicogenomics, reflects:
Karen was able to maximize her experience of Greek (and European) science, education, life and society during these past nine months. This Fulbright scholarship was significant not only to Karen, but also to the university and the local society here in Thrace. Karen's presence was proof that science is global and relevant to every educational and social environment. Karen was also an inspiration to young scientists at DUTH who dream of crossing the Atlantic Ocean one day to study, work and excel in the U.S.A. She was also an inspiration for younger people, who have not yet experienced the bright side of life, that no trip is impossible - her work with unaccompanied refugee minors was admirable and a reminder that love has no ethnicity or geographic barriers.
The team, including Fulbright alumni Drs. Komilis and Boukouvala, DUTH faculty member Dr. Giannoulis Fakis, U.S Fulbright Student Karen Udoh and Fulbright Greek Program Coordinator Els Siakos Hanappe paid a visit to the Xanthi TechLab, former American Corner hosted by the Municipal Library, a space designed for young people to introduce them to new developments in technology and STEM education. Talking with Dimitris Giannakoudis, Coordinator and Specialist at Xanthi TechLab, about possible collaborations and STEM education opportunities for U.S. students, a summer school was opted as the most feasible way to introduce U.S. students to the region.
Finally, Fulbright paid a visit to Soufli, the silk center of Greece and once located along The Silk Road running from China to Italy to review its household economy to its industrial past and present economic reality. Soufli is the only European town left that produces homegrown silk and another reason to visit the region for research and study (textile science, engineering and technology).
These activities support U.S. study abroad to Greece and are supported by Study Abroad Engagement Grant funding from USA Study Abroad within the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.