Caroline Palmer

Energy, Georgetown University
2015-2016 US Fulbright Student Program

I am in Greece this year to research renewable energy policy and development. My meetings with regulators, academics, NGOs, and businessmen have broadened my understanding of energy policy in practice. Analyzing renewable energy policy solutions for Greece has required going beyond factors such as the industry’s access to capital and the government’s stance on the environment; it has demanded diving deep into Greece’s complex economic and political challenges and examining the way that the energy sector is directly tied to the economy and politics of this country. As I step further into this political, economic and social maze, the way through it becomes ever more enticing and elusive!

While my experience has been academically broadening, it has also been enriched by exposure to Greek culture. I felt especially connected when I had the opportunity to help with a Greek family’s olive harvest. I learned how to brush the olives off the trees with a special plastic fork, how to separate stones and leaves from the fallen olives and how the olive press turns bags and bags of olives into fresh green oil. The cultural significance of the event became clear at the olive press: both serious producers and family farmers wrote their names first-come first-served on a chalkboard, waited their turn to run their olives through the communal mill and filled their well-worn plastic barrels with new oil. As I watched an old couple walk away together, the man and woman each grasping one handle of their jug, I could feel the still-significant rhythms of Greek agriculture and imagine the centuries of olive harvests on this land.

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