Interviews

Always seeking to promote cross-cultural understanding, the program is highly interactive, with participants -students, professors, and guests- being in constant discussion and exchange of ideas, opinions and knowledge. In this section, past participants continue to interact through interviews.

Ilham Khuri – Makdisi, Northeastern University
Founding member of CCS and professor in the program since 2002

What makes CCS special compared to other Study Abroad Programs that you might know?

The fact that it is truly interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary, and that it was established by a core team of individuals who not only share much intellectually and academically, but have also been very good friends for over fifteen years.

What are the profits that a student can get through this program?

The interdisciplinary nature of the program is, for me, unbeatable. I believe it is very rare to find such a program, especially one in which the faculty members relish this aspect of the program, and know how to tie various parts of their seminar to larger topics covered in other seminars. This is a very intellectually expansive program that will make the students want to deepen their knowledge on every single topic and empire that we discuss during the program. I also think that being in Greece over the summer is pretty unbeatable! Not only that, but the fact that the program moves between various parts of the country gives the students a wonderful and varied exposure to Greek culture and landscape.

Dimitris Kastritsis, University of St Andrews
Founding member of CCS and professor in the program since 2002

Why would you suggest a student to attend especially this summer program?

Apart from the opportunity to see amazing sites in Greece and study with world experts on a wide variety of fields and topics, this summer program offers a very broad interdisciplinary perspective that is extremely rare. Most programs focus on a particular place, historical period, or body of knowledge. Ours really knows no bounds, because although the component courses are limited in number and scope, the conversations and comparisons to which they can give rise are virtually limitless.

What is the toughest part of teaching in summer?

Summer is a time when most academics take a break from teaching to focus on their own research and writing. An undergraduate summer program such as ours can really interrupt the flow of this research, even if it is only for one or two weeks. But it can also serve as a welcome injection of energy and inspiration. And of course, for all of us who have been teaching in this program for fifteen years, this has become a familiar part of our summer and an opportunity to see our friends, as well as meet new students from many different countries. I think this program keeps us young.

Matilda West, Harvard University
Assistant Director, Summer School Study Abroad Programs

What would you like to wish to the program for the next 15 years to come?

Best wishes for a successful future of continued academic excellence and joyful collaboration.

Sofie Brooks, Harvard University
Student in CCS in 2010

Are you still in touch with fellow classmates from the program?

I am definitely still in touch with almost everyone in the program. I loved our group--they were some of the most friendly, adventurous and fun people I met at Harvard. I'm especially in touch with one person I met on the trip (Parker), who has since become my boyfriend of almost six years! It was the perfect setting to form relationships (romantic and friendships) because we had a lot of freedom to spend time with friends and explore the towns we lived in together.

Nicola Xanthopoulos, University of Wollongong
Student in CCS in 2015

Which was your favourite moment in the program?

There were so many amazing highlights from my summer in Greece, both in and out of the classroom. But if I had to narrow it down to one, it would have to be the running race on the Ancient Olympic Track with the entire group in Olympia. By that point in the trip we were two weeks in, had built great friendships with everyone and had many inside jokes. I remember us all talking before we went to the site about the image of the group from 2014 lined up ready to race each other and how we wanted to do it too! We all got a bit nervous as we walked the grounds of Olympia beforehand. The professors, Evan and Marina watched as we all lined up giggling and warming up before the sprint, and before we knew it we all were running down the track as fast as we could. We all collapsed on the ground at the end, and the boys were out beaten by the fastest in the group, a girl! A memory I’ll always remember!

As an alumna of the program what would you say to future students?

If I could do this program again tomorrow, I would! Such a meaningful learning experience, which reflected in all aspects of my life after completion, not just academic. I strongly encourage applicants who aren’t studying at Harvard to also apply, As I am from Australia I had some worries about being fortunate enough to be offered a spot, however, you won’t know if you don’t try! And I am beyond glad that I took a chance and tried my best at the program. Not only did I learn about Greek history, but I also learnt many different things from my fellow American, Chinese and Greek peers too, and im sure they learnt things from me. […] The Harvard Summer School Program in Greece is a life changing adventure, filled with academia, exploration, friendship, breathtaking scenic tours and unforgettable memories with all the people involved. An experience like this is one to consider, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!

Eliza Gettel, College of the Holy Cross
Student in CCS in 2010

Did the program affect your decision to pursue your graduate studies at Harvard?

The program in many ways led me to graduate studies at Harvard. It introduced me to the amazing centers and resources available to Harvard graduate students, and the teaching staff provided role models whose path I could follow. The program also distinctly shaped the interests in the ancient world that I am now pursuing in my PhD at Harvard. During my summer in Olympia and Nafplio, I fell in love with Greece—the culture, the landscape, the food, and the history.

Lefteris Kefalas, University of Patras
Student in CCS in 2014

Share the first three words that come in mind when thinking of the program:

Unforgettable, Fun, Motivating

How did the program influence your future studies and career?

The program played a very important part in my future studies as, due to its inter-disciplinary nature, I was exposed to a variety of scientific fields, and thus I was able to form a better opinion of what I wanted to do in my postgraduate student life. It was also influential at a personal level, as I was continuously motivated by the other students of the program to work to the best of my ability inside and outside the classroom.

Which was your most vivid experience in the program?

It is unimaginable how a group of people, who would never have thought they would ever cross paths, can end up bonded by valuable friendships. It is inspiring how much knowledge that covers a wide range of academic interests can be conveyed in weekly classes and passed onto the students with interesting and enjoyable methods. It is uncommon that a group of professors and coordinators can be always there for you, during class, excursions, even during late-night card games, despite their highly demanding schedules. It is amazing how a five-week long Summer Program can change one’s perspective on his/her (student) life. It is also amazing how fast time flies by… I will be always grateful that I got to be a part of the Harvard Summer School Program in Greece. Happy 15th year anniversary!

Catherine Qin, Harvard University
Student in CCS in 2014

Why did you choose to attend this program?

HSS Greece was my top choice study abroad program because of the unique location, the multidisciplinary academic focus, and the comprehensive cultural experience. No other Harvard Summer program was located in the country that is arguably the birthplace of Western civilization and culture; no other program offered the same level of intellectual rigor across a combination of humanities fields; and no other program promised such an all-inclusive cultural experience outside of the classroom that took us all over the city during the week and all over the country every weekend.

Who was your roommate? Are you still in touch with fellow classmates from the program?

My roommate was Cordélia de Brosses, a then-rising junior (and now recent graduate!) from Yale, though originally from Paris. As roommates, we quickly became friends during the program, stayed in touch, and even met up with each other at every annual Harvard-Yale football game after the program had ended. One of the best parts about the Greece program is the diversity of its student participants; while half of the program my year was from Harvard, the other half hailed from schools as far-flung as Stanford, Patras University in Greece, University College London, and Fudan University in China. In spite of this amazing geographic spread, many of us still keep in touch, even now, two years after our program. While I naturally see my Harvard classmates the most - we still get together over lunch every so often during the semester, and a few have become some of my closest friends at school.

As an alumna of the Program what would you say to future students?

Study abroad in Greece!!! HSS Greece was unquestionably one of the single best experiences of my time at Harvard - academically, culturally, and personally. I learned so much about the history and culture of ancient and modern Greece, traveled to so many of its most beautiful cities and sites, and made lasting, heartfelt friendships with students, professors, and staff from all over the world. If I could relive my experience in the program again, I absolutely would in a heartbeat. I will never forget that first summer in Greece, and I hope generations of future CCS students will continue to cherish the magic of this truly one-of-a-kind program.