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A group of Northeastern University students from many disciplines including the College of Arts, Media and Design recently met Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos while studying in Athens as part of their Dialogue of Civilizations. The summer session, called “Greece: Then and Now,” has been led by Communication Studies Professor Richard Katula for the past decade.

Courtney Byer, AMD'15, hands Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos a gift from Northeastern University

“The students on this Dialogue learned about the Greek culture and the Greek people,” said Professor Richard Katula. “They loved them both. But most of all, like Odysseus in Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, they went on a journey to a land far away from home and, in the final analysis, learned as much about themselves as about Greece.”

Delphi Ruins (Image by Courtney Byer)

“Greeks take pride in their roots,” said Courtney Byer, a senior Communication Studies student at Northeastern. “In President Pavlopoulos’ speech, he repeatedly discussed how Greece can ‘help Europe return to the pursuit of its basic principles, founding principles, which are Humanism and Social Justice.’ It was amazing to see that despite the current economic crisis in Greece, the president and the citizens are optimistic about Greece’s future because of their remarkable past.”

A sunset in Santorini (Image by Courtney Byer)

Students traveled around Greece for 32 days, visiting a total of eight cities including Athens and Olympia. Professor Katula also received the “Philhellene” award for his constant support of the Greek people.

Rylie Garrison and Shona Ford hiking the volcano in Santorini (Photo by Courtney Byer)

“President Pavlopoulos was right when he said that Greece can help bring Europe back to its roots,” wrote Shona Ford, a senior Communication Studies student. “for I really believe that Europe can learn from the way Greece appreciates its culture, history, and people. Being able to stand in front of the president and have him welcome us to his country with open arms (and heavy books) exemplified the openness the entire country had been extending to us over the past 32 days, and was the perfect way to wrap up an amazing adventure.”