Athens Cultural Exchange Program

Last February, the 8th grade of A.Fantis Parochial School of St. Constantine and Helen Cathedral traveled to Athens, Greece, as part of a newly established cultural exchange program. The week-long trip was developed by Ms. Ioanna Glava, Greek Department Chair, Peter Vlitas, board member, and school administration. As a culmination of years of studying Hellenic culture and Greek language, students were able to tour museums, cultural events and archeological sites while also visiting their “virtual pen pals” from several local schools. The trip was such a huge success with families and faculty that it has began an annual tradition. This year’s 8th grade families are counting down the days until their departure for Greece.

Virtual Pen Pals

After many months of communication via Skype and letters, the 8th graders connected with students from Moraitis, a private school, and PS4 of New Iraklion, a public school, in order to share their respective experiences in middle school. In front of a packed audience, Fantis students presented various aspects of life in New York City and Greek-American schools in the United States. The students participated in a lively question and answer session, switching from both Greek and English, tackling everything from where American kids like to go after school, to favorite music, sports and class subjects. The 8th graders also performed Greek dances with their new friends while also introducing them to American line dancing.  

Research Studies

During the week long trip, the students conducted extensive research on ancient Greece by visiting different archaeological sites in Athens, Delphi, Cape Sounio and Mycenae. Their visit to the Cycladic Museum of Athens served as the impetus for another project about the lifestyle of ancient Greece. Following the trip this year, Moraitis School students will travel to Brooklyn to visit Fantis and work together on a project comparing the two educational systems culminating with a presentation at Fantis.

“Classroom NYC & Beyond”

From preschool visits to the Robot Foundry to a Middle School Weekend Camping Trip in Upstate New York, Fantis students explore the world outside their classroom each month in carefully coordinated trips that enhance the curriculum. The Athens Trip is part of a strategic vision initiated by the principal, Classroom NYC & Beyond. The goal is to seek more ways to make school more meaningful and enriching by having students learn in more authentic environments. The launch of the cultural exchange program has given Fantis 8th graders a deeper comprehension and appreciation of Greece. It also provides our students with a different perspective of themselves and their own culture, building a stronger foundation and maturity before entering high school.