It's a big world after all

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How surreal to teach an excerpt from Plato's Republic a few weeks ago in Theory of Knowledge class and then stand in Ancient Agora, where Socrates mentored the budding philosopher. Or to be reading about the crisis in the Ukraine while your students are debating with other kids from around the globe about whether or not Crimea should be an independent state. Or to call your husband, who is many countries away, on FaceTime to say, "Good morning, sunshine!"

The world feels small.

Speaking of which, there was a school group at the Model UN conference from the United States! And, regretfully, they made no bones about how shocked they were by the subordinate knowledge and actions of their international peers.

True, the Greek kids were definitely louder (and more casually dressed) than the Americans and even my Prague group. But this is a cultural experience and a chance to chew thoughtfully on customs and mores.

"But they didn't even know what a LEVY was!" complained an American gal emphatically on the last day of the conference. "I had to EXPLAIN it to them!"

Her adviser told her to " patient with them and maybe they'll learn something."

Never mind that the other students at this conference spoke English as a second (or third or fourth) language. Or that most Americans don't even know what a levy is. The ill-considered comments made my cheeks heat up.

So perhaps I shouldn't think of the world as a "small" place, lest I impose my perspective on others without considering theirs.

I digress. A few views of Athens for the road:

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens

Candles for sale in the Cathedral...

11th century Church of Panaghia Kapnikarea right smack in the middle of a commercial district. For a long time, ancient structures were either replaced by modern infrastructure or completely enveloped by it.

Chaperones extraordinaire in front of the Agora, the center of the Athenian government, dating back to 6 BC.

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus. (FYI - my Year 11s are reading "To Kill a Mockingbird". You know, Atticus!)

Up up and up the Acropolis, 

A top-down view of the Olympic Temple of Zeus

The Old Temple of Athena

Trees in Athens were positively pregnant with these orange orbs. They're
called bigarades, and they are the sourest thing I've ever tasted.
D'oh! Someone knocked it over. (The Olympic Temple of Zeus)

At the Panathenaic Stadium, where the first modern Olympic games was staged, in 1896

Something modern: Athenian grafitti

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