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Greek America Corps

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Greek America Corps

Why this program?

From Gregory C. Pappas, President & Founder

Offering young adults in our community the opportunity to transform themselves while serving others — and supporting Greece — is a pivotal ideal of the Greek America Foundation. Since we launched our first summer volunteer program in 2017, dozens of North Americans have had life-changing experiences offering their time and talents to humanitarian causes in Greece while immersing themselves in local society and culture. Our goal is to continue this program for years to come to ensure that more young people have transformative experiences and continue spreading the values of philanthropy, volunteerism and service.

About this program

Greek America Corps is an initiative that has changed the lives of dozens of young North Americans by engaging them in meaningful volunteer programs with accredited non-profit organizations in Greece. These programs have connected them with their inner-selves — instilling in them the importance of volunteerism, service and philanthropy by allowing them to experience firsthand the smile on the face of someone they are feeding, supporting and serving.

There are three primary aspects to this initiative:

(1) Participants are exposed to the ideals of service, volunteerism and philanthropy — core ideals of the Greek America Foundation’s mission. 

(2) Participants support our charity partners serving the most vulnerable population groups in Greece, which has recently endured financial and humanitarian crises — not to mention the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

(3) Finally, our volunteers are exposed to modern Greek life and society through unique and immersive cultural experiences.

Summer 2024 applications open

Deadline: February 15, 2024

The 2024 season consists of five separate programs – one in Athens, one in Thessaloniki, one on the island of Chios and two in the city of Hania, on the island of Crete — each with a different duration. Click here for details on each program.

Support our program

Greek America Corps has been supported over the years by companies, institutions and individuals who understand the significance of instilling the ideals of service and volunteerism in future leaders of our community.

Donate today to help us sustain this program and provide transformative experiences for young North Americans while immersing them in real-world humanitarian challenges. 

Interested in sponsoring a student? Various options are available. Click here to learn more.

About our past programs

July 2017, Athens: 10 volunteers spent three weeks supporting The HOME Project, a network of shelters for unaccompanied refugee minors.

July 2019, Chios: 16 volunteers spent the month supporting METAdrasi, a non-profit organization offering support, education and other vital services to unaccompanied refugee minors.

August 2020, Athens: Six volunteers supported the work of various organizations including METAdrasi, Emfasis Foundation and Kivotos Tou Kosmou (Ark of the World).

Summer 2021, Athens & Chios: Three volunteer teams and a total of 27 young adults spent three weeks each supporting the Greek Council for Refugees, Boroume, Emfasis Foundation, we4all, METAdrasi and Kivotos Tou Kosmou (Ark of the World).

Summer 2022, in addition to our established programs in Athens and Chios, we expanded programming to Thessaloniki this year and partnered with Elpida Home and the American Farm School.

Summer 2023, we offered various volunteer experiences in Athens, Thessaloniki and Chios, supporting local municipalities, and respectful organizations such as METAdrasi, Greek Council for Refugees, The Nursing Home of Athens, Elpida Home, and many more.

The 2021 Athens volunteer team met with U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt, a longtime supporter of our Greek America Corps program.

Transformative experience

Our program allows volunteers to benefit not only from their work with our Greek charity partners but also from interpersonal relationships formed with peers and those whom they serve. Participants also experience modern Greek society in a profound way that broadens their horizons and heightens their cultural awareness.

Desired qualities in a volunteer

We seek volunteers who are able to handle quickly changing environments, encountering people from different cultures and the emotional ups and downs that come with working in challenging conditions. Having strong boundaries, knowing your limits and when to take a break are important skills while volunteering. It is important to note that each program will have its own requirements and specifications depending upon the nature of the work involved.

Greek America Corps

Educational experience

True to our founding belief in the value of education, some of our programs offer the opportunity for US/Canadian students to receive college credit via our partnership with the Hellenic American University, a U.S.-accredited institution of higher education in Athens. Depending on the program, we will specify if this option is available.

Program specifics

Our programs typically range from 2-4 weeks long and require about 4-6 hours a day of volunteering, five days per week. We do schedule off-hours and excursions to give volunteers a physical and emotional break from their demanding work. Excursions involve immersion into local culture with visits to scenic or historic sights, beaches, traditional festivals and other important happenings. Volunteers also receive plenty of free time to explore and experience Greece independently.

Testimonials from past volunteers

I would say that this program has been one of the most important steps I’ve taken in my life… It’s kind of motivated me a little bit more to want to offer my services to the world and to offer help to those who are less fortunate – to those who need it.
This program has given me an education that simply cannot be taught in a classroom. After five years of attending undergraduate and graduate school, I knew something was still missing… While my path isn’t exactly clear moving forward, this program has allowed me to realize that my passion for helping those in need exists as strongly as ever.
I think these programs are very, very beneficial to open the eyes of the youth to be able to bring these experiences back to their communities and back to their towns and spread the message of ‘philanthropia,’ and to be a good person and to help — to give to those less fortunate.
This program has affected me in so many ways. It has broadened my perspective more than any school studies or anything really ever could… And it has affected me on an emotional scale — so much. The people that I’m working with in the program have really made all the difference in my life and I will carry all of it back to America with me.
If you’re thinking about joining this program, I would say “Do it.” It is incredibly fulfilling to be of service to others and the people that you will meet and the connections that you will make will leave a big mark on your soul in ways that you can’t even imagine.
My experience with the kids has been life-changing. I’ve formed bonds with these kids through the weekend activities and seeing them every day. Frankly, I feel like these kids are my equals and friends. I will never forget this experience.
This program for me personally was a life-changer. I think it has really defined who I am and what I want to do with the rest of my life. I think the people I worked with are great. They’re phenomenal. Everybody really poured their heart and soul into this project and into the kids.
I have zero regrets about taking this kind of leap of faith and joining the program. It’s been just an amazing opportunity, life-changing and extremely humbling and I would encourage anyone who is even remotely thinking about it to go for it.
What I’ve learned in terms of gratitude, in terms of being able to make connections with people… can really go a long way in not only working with kids, not only working with vulnerable populations, not even in a volunteer setting; it can go a long way in our personal lives with other Americans and with other people.
Having the opportunity to work with such an amazing group of volunteers has truly been a life-changing experience. Working with volunteers from all backgrounds and personalities with a focus on this united cause to help these kids be kids, even for a moment, allowed our group of volunteers to quickly become a family.

Watch the recap from our 2021 programs

Play Video

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Frequently asked questions

Is it safe to travel during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Our programs will adhere to all guidelines as specified by relevant health authorities. Applicants are solely responsible for determining whether or not they feel comfortable to travel.

Can I participate if I’m not from the United States or Canada?

Only U.S. and Canadian nationals or lawful permanent residents are eligible to participate.

Do I have to be between 18-25 years old?

This is not a “strict” requirement; however, the ideal and most common age of participants is between 18-25.

Do I need to be a student or have a college degree?

No, volunteers do not need to be enrolled in college, nor in possession of a college degree.

I’d like to apply for a scholarship. Do I need to submit any extra paperwork?

No extra materials are required. You simply must specify on your application whether you are requesting a scholarship — which is based on financial need — or offering to pay for the cost of your participation.

What costs are covered by a scholarship?

Accommodation, local transportation, most meals, excursions, miscellaneous supplies and administrative fees.

How much money should I expect to spend during the trip?

This largely depends on your personal preferences and spending habits; however, you can safely anticipate spending between 80-100 euros per week on your own food and beverages.

Do I need to speak Greek to participate?

English and Greek will be the main languages spoken in the volunteer program. Knowledge of Greek is not required, but knowledge of the language is a definite plus for our volunteers. Interpreters will be available at times.

Is Greece a safe country?

The Greek America Foundation vets all volunteer locations for safety and suitability for our volunteers. Likewise, our charity partners are also vetted for accountability and ability to handle our volunteer group. Greece as a country is generally quite safe. Reasonable precautions will be taken at all times and volunteers will be instructed on safety for a variety of contexts.

I’d like to attend another program/conference/family celebration. Can I join the program late or leave at any time?

Participants are expected to be present for the duration of the program and not attend other events.

What’s a typical day like?

Volunteers will work weekdays for 4-6 hours per day with a lunch break. Our group will complete tasks as specified above (see “Program dates & description”). During evenings, volunteers will either have free time to explore or participate in excursions arranged by the Greek America Foundation. Group meetings will also take place when appropriate. Please note that schedules tend to vary depending on the circumstances presented each day. A more detailed schedule will be shared with volunteers in the weeks leading up to their program’s start date.

Will I have free time to make plans on my own?

Yes. Our programs are structured to give volunteers ample free time to explore and experience Greece independently; however, volunteers should not make arrangements that directly conflict with our daily schedule.

What will the rooming situation be?

Volunteers are generally placed in double or triple rooms on a male vs. female basis. Under extentuating circumstances, the Greek America Foundation may offer to accommodate single room requests, provided that our hotel has availability.

What kind of preparation happens leading up to the programs?

After being accepted, volunteers will be required to participate in preparatory Zoom meetings organized by the Greek America Foundation staff. These meetings will provide volunteers with information about finer details and logistics.

How does health insurance work?

If you are accepted into the program, you are required to purchase your own travel health insurance in order to participate. The approximate cost ranges from $30-50 USD, depending on your age and chosen provider. The Greek America Foundation will provide further information about where and how to purchase travel health insurance after your acceptance into the program.

What happens in case of medical emergencies?

The Greek America Foundation requires all accepted volunteers to share emergency contact information prior to the program’s start date. In the event of an emergency, Greek America Foundation staff will always be available to help volunteers and facilitate their access to medical care; however, volunteers and/or their families are fully responsible for covering the upfront cost of any emergency medical care and filing health insurance claims for reimbursements (if necessary) thereafter.