Contributed by Chris Kinley, 2018-2019 U.S. Fulbright Student to Greece
Chris is a PhD candidate in History at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
The Spring Get-Together for the 2018-2019 Fulbright Grantees was held on 7 March 2019 at Yoleni’s Greek Gastronomy Center near Kolonaki. It was a day to share research progress and welcome new Fulbright Scholars to Greece. The event began with opening comments from Executive Director, Artemis Zenetou, and the Cultural Attaché from the U.S. Embassy, Jennifer Schueler. Both stressed the importance of the Fulbright program and how it has been a beacon for cultural exchange between Greece and the U.S. for seventy years.
After the opening remarks, we were treated to a presentation about the Greek debt crisis by journalist John Psaropoulos. The presentation was very detailed, and Mr. Psaropoulos explained the ins and outs of Greek debt, from its origins to the recent steps to mitigate the problem. One interesting point we learned from this lecture is that one negative side effect that has resulted from Greece cutting spending to meet the demands of its creditors is that the Greek economy is now contracting. Mr. Psaropoulos did end on a positive note by stating that there could be an end to the debt issue, although it will not be in the immediate future.
We then heard brief presentations from three of the newest Fulbright scholars: Diane Kline, Kevin Corcoran, and Mytro Petreas. Dr. Kline is stationed in Crete and is studying the function of social networks in ancient Greece. Dr. Corocran is also located in Crete and is taking a philosophical approach to understanding human consciousness. Mytro Patreas is at the University of the Aegean and is chemist who is researching how certain chemical compounds negatively affect human health. We were also introduced to the grant recipients for the Distinguished Award in Teaching. Both Sia Kyriakakos and Sarah Cornette are using their experiences as educators to work with local communities and children through visual arts projects.
After meeting the newest scholars and teachers, we received updates from the seven graduate students. Their research projects range from archaeology to modern history, even to understanding how a Mediterranean diet affects dementia. All of the graduate students’ projects are progressing nicely as their research here in Greece is proving to be fruitful. We also heard from the Fulbright/HAEF Fellows who shared their roles within the educational community at Athens College. It is very obvious that all of these young educators are enjoying their work, are forming bonds with their students, and are acquiring meaningful skills that will undoubtedly prove invaluable in their future endeavors.
Once all of the presentations were finished, we enjoyed a catered lunch by the staff at Yoleni’s before we walked down to the Ghika Gallery for a guided tour. This cultural visit introduced us to the work and residence of one of the most famous Greek painters, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika. Before his death, Ghika donated all of his work to the Benaki Museum, which was then given back to the Ghika Gallery once renovations were finished. We toured the gallery, saw the space where Ghika lived while in Athens, and saw the studio where he painted many of his works.
This year’s Spring Get-Together was a wonderful day filled with interesting and insightful lectures, as well as updates. It was a day of communion between the grantees and a wonderful opportunity to network and make long-lasting friendships.