Whirlwind

Settle in, this is a long one. Believe it or not, I was actually too busy to blog this week. Everyone needed to finish up their final stories in Athens, and I saddled myself with probably more video work than I could realistically handle. But like most things that require a lot of effort, this week was certainly worthwhile. We posted some great stories, from the state of healthcare for refugee mothers, to startups budding up across Greece (one of the few bright spots in the Greek economy according to one journalist who came to speak with our class), to the plight of endangered sea turtles. Β There are still more to come, including the feature piece on the refugee crisis. I did a video for that as well, but I won’t share it here until it’s posted on our site, which you can check out here by the way.

Quick look at me trying to keep my eyes open this week.

This week also took me to some incredibly unique places, that I never would have seen on any brochure. That was actually the mantra of the first interesting person I met this week, John “Brady” Kiesling. He is a former U.S. diplomat who retired over his concerns about the legitimacy of our entry into war Iraq in 2003 (good call, Brady). He now has invented an app called ToposText, that shows users the history of where they are standing right from their smartphone–no brochure necessary. He took Mike and I up to the Pnyx, the place where democratic meetings used to held in ancient Greece. It had an awesome view of the Acropolis and the city, but he said most people don’t go there because it’s not on the usual tourist checklist. Panorama.Β 

Next up was a trip to Sepolia, a neighborhood of Athens where NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo (I’m a pro at spelling this now) grew up. There is a court there dedicated to him, with his image painted across the entirety of it. Brandon, Theo and I talked to a bunch of the kids playing there about their favorite players and teams. We also got to meet the scout who discovered the “Greek Freak” and interviewed him at our hotel. Brandon’s story on Giannis and the neighborhood is awesome, and is also up on our site.

Then on Saturday, Bridget and I paid a visit to Ergastiri, a training facility for people with mental disabilities. The residents there are put into classes and taught to make their own products: cookies, pasta, rugs, soap, gifts, ceramics, you name it. It was a beautiful facility and it pained me to remember that we were there because the Greek government hasn’t been able to pay facilities like it for well over a year. Story and video on that still to come.

Residents of Ergastiri working looms to make rugs.

Finally, I also got in some interviews for my personal project, which is a video on the Exarchia neighborhood of Greece and the street art there. The neighborhood is known for its rebellious and anarchist spirit…and its great street art. I’ll save most of the description for the video (which I’ll post on here later when I find the time to edit it) but the coolest part of making it was meeting the street artist Cacao Rocks.

Some street art by Cacao Rocks outside his studio.

Just like that, another dialogue is over. It was as much fun as I thought it would be, but also more challenging than I expected. I went out of my comfort zone a lot and I’m really happy I did (Carlene even said I wasn’t lazy!). One thing that never changes throughout these trips is my love of seeing new places and meeting new people. I’ll keep the blog up as I travel through Switzerland in the coming week, but I can’t think of three better pictures to post to officially end this dialogue.

Click to enlarge and have nightmares.

 

 

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