In October 2019, 6 members of staff; Michael Murphy, Mary Greally, Claire Wall, Jennifer Gibbons and Niall Murphy travelled to Athens, Greece on a Staff Mobility Trip.
Sinead Wall reported the trip
Our first day in Athens coincided with a Greek national holiday. We took the opportunity to visit the ancient citadel, the Acropolis which dominates the modern cityscape. As we walked towards the iconic hilltop we took in the heady mix of old and new. Athens is a city of contrasts, a sprawling metropolis following a grid pattern with endless apartment blocks. Beautifully preserved ancient temples and byzantine churches appear side by side with graffitied facades and the signs of urban decline caused by the recent financial crisis.
At the base of the Acropolis we joined the hundreds of other visitors and shuffled through and around the ancient temples in a river of sightseers. The crowds emphasised the extraordinary attraction and importance of this site. We entered through the portico, the Propylaia towards the Parthenon. The Parthenon is a Doric temple dating to the fifth century B.C.. It was dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena Parthenos to protect the power and prestige of the ancient city. We spent a couple of hours wandering about the entire rocky outcrop to take in the monumental scale of the many temples and awe-inspiring ancient history. We also took in the expansive views around the city and took our bearings. We rounded up our tour of the city by open top bus.
On day two we made our way to Glyfada, an area on the coast referred to as the Greek Riviera. IEK, Vocational Training Institute Glyfada were our hosts for this Erasmus+ trip. We met with the director of the institute, Dimitris Soutiotis. Before attending classes in the college we discussed our respective colleges and identified common ground and how the organisations differed. We learnt about the Greek structure of vocational education and training which has similarities with Further Education in Ireland. Although, the Greek courses have five semesters including at least 22 weeks of work placement. At the Glyfada college the building is shared with a secondary school meaning the vocational training courses run during the latter part of the day from 4pm until 9pm.
We were given a tour of the college while classes were in session and so sampled their Computer Technology, Painting, Beauty Therapy, Pharmacy Assistant and Film Directing classes. While visiting the Film class I was invited to give an impromptu talk on screenwriting. They were a very enthusiastic class and it soon turned into a lively Q&A session. It was a very enjoyable experience and a wonderful insight into the dynamic of a Greek film class.
Before meeting with our hosts on day three we managed to fit in a little more touring. On our hosts recommendation we visited the world class Acropolis museum which houses many of the sculpted treasures of the Acropolis. Ancient streets and houses are preserved below the museum and can be viewed through impressive window pathways built into the design of this impressive museum. We walked through the narrow pedestrian area of Plaka and enjoyed the colourful townhouses and street cafes. On the last evening we met Dimitris and colleague and three visiting Romanian teachers. We discussed the possibilities of cooperative projects in the future. Our last few hours were spent listening to traditional Greek music at a quaint street tavern.
We all agreed it was a very enlightening and worthwhile experience and hope that it leads to further Erasmus exchanges in the future.
Sinead Wall, November, 2019