Back from Athens: Meet Caroline, A Student Leader on a School Trip

Caroline Wenners went on the Atlas 2016 Custom High School Trip to Athens, Greece, with the New Hampton School.  The high school student team traveled to the city to study the financial crisis and explore how the refugee situation is impacting the economy. The team also spent time exploring nearby islands, meeting local businesses and enjoying local life in Athens. Caroline is currently a senior at the New Hampton School in New Hampshire. Kelsey: Hi Caroline! Thanks for agreeing to chat with me about your time in Athens!

Caroline: No problem, I’m excited to talk about my trip to Athens!

K: Alright, so my first question has to do with your personal experiences outside of the trip. How has having family in Athens affected your perception of Greece?

C: Growing up, I only knew Greece as a place where my family was from. Until a couple of years ago, I did not realize the severity of the financial situation. When I began learning about the economic crisis, it immediately raised some concerns. These concerns mostly regarded my family and how they would be affected. My perception of Greece has changed in a few ways since then. But having family in Greece has definitely made me eager to learn more about the situation.

K: How much did you already know about the financial crisis before you went on the trip, and how much did you learn?

C: Before traveling to Greece, I had a general understanding of the economic crisis. As the trip progressed, I began learning more than I could have ever imagined. Meeting with organizations and small businesses allowed me to have a better understanding of not only Greece’s economic crisis, but also the European Union, immigration, and the refugee crisis. Learning about these other issues directly related back to the essential purpose of the trip. This new knowledge would guide me to have a different perspective and outlook regarding Greece’s economic situation.

K: What do you hope your friends/classmates took away from the trip?

C: Before the trip, I was skeptical of how many of my classmates would be willing to embrace a new culture. Many people tend to be hesitant when the prospect of stepping outside their comfort zone is presented. I was amazed to see how many of my classmates were enthusiastic to learn about the history, try new foods, and even learn to Greek dance. Along with embracing the culture, I also hope that my classmates now have a better understanding of our essential question regarding the economic crisis.

K: What does your family think of the refugee crisis? Have any of them been affected by it personally?

C: The refugee crisis has significantly escalated over the past few months. My family has not directly been affected by the crisis, however, they believe that Greece is doing the best they can with handling the situation. A solution for the crisis may not be evident at the moment, but my family is proud of how supportive and welcoming Greece has been.

K: What was your favorite day or activity?

C: My favorite activity was talking to local businesses in Athens. At first, I was hesitant to fully engage myself in the activity. I was unsure of how stores or restaurants would respond to certain questions or how many would actually be willing to talk to us. As the activity progressed, asking questions became natural and evidently more comfortable. Many groups expanded outside of the general questions and began holding meaningful conversations with the owners and workers.

K: Was there anything you would have changed about the trip?

C: One thing that I would have changed would be learning more about the government. Understanding Greece’s government would strengthen our knowledge regarding other issues. Possibly meeting with someone involved in politics to help explain the breakdown of the political system would have helped us better understand Greece as a country.

K: Thanks Caroline for your insight! I hope you have a great rest of senior year!

C: No problem, and thank you!