Posted by: Joseph J. Skarzenski | July 14, 2009

Starting off session one’s last week in Athens

Receiving a dance lesson from a Dora Stratou performer

Receiving a dance lesson from a Dora Stratou performer

After a busy weekend touring Delphi, Olympia, and other areas, students began another week in Athens.

Today class started off with something everyone is familiar with, the kafenio. Dr. Dimitriou opened his lecture off with how the coffee shop and its function rose during the period of Turkokratia. He spoke about how these coffee shops served as places where Greek men could speak freely and express their grievances in regards to the Turkish government. This was one of the final points made before we moved on to the period of history referred to as “Modern Greece.”

Greece from 1821 and on encompasses an immense amount of content, enough to make it an almost feat to accomplish in a two day period. The quantity of history was not discouraging to students or Dr. Dimitriou though, as we started learning about this period early in class. Following a brief lesson on the Greek War of Independence, we began learning about King Otto and the emergence of a new Greece. Soon enough, notes on Otto’s successor, George I, were being taken by students. The accomplishments George I achieved for Greece are amazing; from unifying the country under Hellenism to the presentation of the megali idea, the king’s contributions were very relevant to the topic of Greek culture and identity. Before we knew it, the early 20th century was being covered in the lecture, with the rise of opposing parties–the royalist and republicans. After covering Greece’s involvement in World War, Dr. Dimitriou elucidated on the leadership of Eleftherios Venizelos, versus the conflicting interests of Constantine I.

Class continued with notes going up until World War II. Tomorrow we will be learning about the military junta, Cyprus conflict with Turkey, and how those–as well as other issues–affect Greek culture and identity today. Following class, most students went together as a group for lunch. Some decided to go to the beach, while others remained in the apartments to catch up on homework. By 7:00 PM we were all back at the campus to start off our night.

Dancing the kalamatiano

Dancing the kalamatiano

From 8:00 to 9:30 PM we had an exclusive, private dance lesson with one of the performers from the renowned Greek dance group, Dora Stratou. After receiving a background on Greek dance and learning a few, basic dances, we walked over to the theatre for the group’s nightly performance. Students were amazed by the impressive dancing from a variety of regions. From Thrace to Paros, and Pontos to Macedonia, the group included a great array of dances. When the show ended around 11:30 Pm, students returned to their apartments to rest after another busy day.

Dora Stratou performing a dance from the Peloponnese region

Dora Stratou performing a dance from the Peloponnese region

Tomorrow we turn in our cultural journals, while our interview assignments are due on Thursday. We are also visiting the United States Embassy in Athens tomorrow to meet Ambassador Daniel V. Speckhard.

To see photos from today’s events, which include our dance lesson and the Dora Stratou performance, please click the link below.

A compilation video including clips from the dance performance will be available online later this week!


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