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02 June 2011

Greek Travelogue: Thursday

Two nights ago, the smoke alarm in my room went off conveniently just as I was falling asleep. My hosts and I were a little unsure how to handle the situation. Should we call the fire brigade, as they call it here, or just remove the battery and call it a night? We debated for a good while about whether we saw a thin, smoky haze in the room or not, but in the end, we got frustrated and simply removed the 9v. Luckily, we all awoke unsinged yesterday morning. (I couldn't convince the students that I hadn't been smoking in the room.)

At dinner last night, one of our students made a comment to the effect that he hadn't tasted wine until that very moment. Later, he told us that in fact that had been his very first sip of alcohol. My immediate emotional response was an unexplainable mixture of pride and horror. That could only happen in a foreign country with a liberal arts institution!

As predicted, today was another stimulating, exhausting, and fulfilling day! Two students gave their site presentations for the class. We climbed the Areopagus, the "Hill of Mars" just to the east of the Acropolis. We visited the Agora from there. I was thrilled to see the spot from where the Apostle Paul (likely) preached to the Athenians. After that, I set off on my own to do lunch in the Plaka, where I had my first taste of an authentic gyro, and then to wander around to do some shopping. After that, I visited a historic Anglican church and then made my way to Parliament to see the protesters where I serendipitously happened on the Changing of the Guards. On my way back to the apartment from there, I stopped by the Temple of Zeus. After a brief respite, I went with my colleagues, Rob and Pam, to visit one of their local friends and wine merchant, George. To say that George is a character would be an understatement. More on him later, but just to bait you, I can recount that he pulled a knife out at one point to demonstrate to one of our students what to do to those who bad-mouth him. After that, we climbed Mount Lycabettus, the highest point in Athens. It was a workout but well worth it given the beautiful 19th century Chapel of St. George at the summit and the breathtaking vistas of the surrounding city. Rob, Pam, and I made our way to a cafe owned by one of wine merchant George's friends where I had ouzo for the first time--and love it. Finally, we grabbed a couple gyros on our way back for a (very) late dinner.  Tomorrow, we leave early on a bus tour of Marathon, Brauron, Thorikos, and Sounio. Like a broken record, I can safely say again that tomorrow will be another long, exhausting, but incredible day.

I'm hoping to be able to blog soon about my revelations over--or at least wrestlings with--my role as faculty among students abroad. My inclination is to be more "buddy Brad," but I think I can best serve them by getting out of their way to let them learn about and from each other.

I think I've decided that I probably won't be able to find the time to organize and post photographs until after I return to the States. Consider this your teaser.

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