“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” - Marcel Proust
Almost four years ago, when I’d first departed from Greece after studying through College Year in Athens, I promised myself I would be back. My reason, which I’d detailed in an editorial for Repo(we)rGreece, was that Greece was special for reasons far beyond its physical beauty; Greece was special for its propensity to awaken your senses, deepen your values, broaden your perspective, invigorate your passions, redefine your sense of beauty, expand your notion of wisdom, and change your pace, scope, and purpose of life.
My two years as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant have only furthered this conviction. My days in the classroom amongst brilliant students and teachers alike were some of my most profound moments to date; whether it was digging through existentialist poetry to understand the meaning and implications of “modernity”, empathizing with Scout Finch through Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, or remixing the story of American Thanksgiving through song and dance, our lessons always involved us teaching one another, and our greatest moments were the ones in which we realized how our differences within our respective upbringings, histories, and national consciousness had tangible effects on how we viewed the world. Better still, though, were the moments we’d find common ground, common humanity, and a common vision going forward.
I am eternally thankful for all of the Greeks I’ve met along the way —the friends and families who’ve treated me as a sister and daughter, students who’ve taught me more than I could have ever taught them, bakers and papous and strangers who’ve stopped whatever they were doing just to greet me; they embody not only what is so special about Greece, but what is so special about the Fulbright program at large. They are a reminder to take my ‘new eyes’ wherever I go- a promise to listen more intently, feel more deeply, and live more fully.