23, March 2009 § Leave a comment
I believe I speak for all of the new students when I say that the Aegean Center and the island of Paros have been quick to feel like home. Built of matching white houses and stone streets fit for foot traffic, Parikia is as safe as it is endlessly explorable. If we walk to the bakery for a delicious filo-filled breakfast before class we’re bombarded with “Kali mera”s from countless new neighbors who already treat us like old friends, and when we return to our apartments in the Aegean village we’re greeted at the gateway by the cats who have claimed us as their own. After only two weeks, we already seem to fit here.
The sense of comfort expands by kilometers each week as John takes us on his picturesque Friday hikes, allowing us to get to know other areas of Paros. We’re always given a nice mid-hike break to take advantage of frolic-worthy clover fields, climable olive trees, scalable rocks and sketchable views of the Mediterranean sea and the surrounding Cycladic islands, past the hills dotted with sheep. On the hikes our understanding of the island grows not only geographically but botanically, as John excitedly points out instances of local flora: fresh oregano and sage which will inevitably be picked and eaten later at the students’ weekly potluck.
This life outside of school grounds only enhances our willingness to learn at the Aegean Center. Rather than serving as a distraction, all of the comfort and excitement of (mostly) clear-skied Paros stimulates the creativity, enthusiasm and mental clarity necessary for learning both in the classroom and the studio. But if a week of hard work builds up any stress or tension, we’re provided a nice venue for shaking it all out: Saturday Greek dance class, where we learn culturally meaningful new ways of getting our groove on (this new student has already gotten years of bottled-up dance out of her system).
I’m excited for this week’s surprises, but also can’t wait for more of the same.
Thanks to Alice for the photos.