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Greek America Corps Hania 2023

by gafoundation1

Environmental Volunteer Program in Hania, Crete

Why this program?

From Gregory C. Pappas, President & Founder

Since the inception of our Greek America Corps volunteer program in 2017, the Greek America Foundation has long had the intention to launch an environmentally focused initiative in Greece. This particular program could not come at a more critical time as the Aegean Sea suffers from dumping of excessive waste such as microplastics, fishnets and other materials harmful to marine life. Through our new partnership with Old Dominion University and Aegean Rebreath, our goal is for our volunteers to directly support environmental initiatives and help Save the Aegean in Hania, which also happens to be the birthplace of my parents and therefore holds a special place in my heart.

Program dates: May 23 - June 4, 2023

Applications open

DEADLINE EXTENDED: JANUARY 23, 2023. Click here to apply.

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Program overview

This is a 13-day Greek America Corps prograwhich entails protecting the environment — specifically the Aegean Sea — in the region of Hania on the island of Crete in partnership with a reputable American university and a respected Greek non-profit organization.

For applicants with financial need, we offer scholarships that cover accommodations and program expenses such as excursions, transportation and most meals. Alternatively, if applicants do not require financial aid, they can opt to purchase the package after they have been accepted. These programs are ideal for participants between 18-25 years old. This age range is strongly preferred by not a strict requirement. Volunteers do not need to be enrolled in college, nor in possession of a college degree. See below for the full program details.

Partners & location

Our partners are the Darden College of Education and Professional Studies at Old Dominion University and Aegean Rebreath.

Old Dominion, founded in 1934 and located in the coastal city of Norfolk, is Virginia’s entrepreneurial-minded doctoral university with more than 24,500 students, rigorous academics, an energetic residential community, and initiatives that contribute $2.1 billion annually to Virginia’s economy.

Aegean Rebreath was established in 2017 to respond to the urgent need to clean the seabed and to promote the protection of Aegean biodiversity, which is undoubtedly endangered by the unreasonable dumping of waste at sea. Initially a small group of active citizens with shared concerns about the preservation of the marine environment launched underwater and coastal cleanup actions. Soon thereafter they gained the interest and support of citizens and various organizations, leading to the expansion of Aegean Rebreath’s work.

Program activities will take place in the greater region of Hania, Crete.

Program dates & description

May 23 – June 4, 2023

Before arriving in Crete, the program begins with an informal arrival, meet-and-greet and check-in at our hotel (TBA) in Athens. No official activities will be scheduled in order to allow for all participants to rest and settle in following presumably long travels. Volunteers MUST be present on the listed start date. 

The first day after arrival day in Athens will consist of brief orientations and meetings with our partners followed by a Greek America Foundation welcome dinner in the evening. Our team will depart for Hania the day after orientation. The program will conclude on the final evening with a farewell dinner in Hania. Participants will be responsible for their own travel arrangements after checking out from the hotel on departure day.

The Darden College of Education and Professional Studies at Old Dominion University is joining the Greek America Foundation and Aegean Rebreath for a spring environmental awareness initiative. More specifically, a set of drifter data buoys will be deployed in the Aegean Sea at the southern part of Crete to map sea currents and provide info related to pollution and microplastics. As a part of this initiative, our volunteers from the United States and Canada will participate and play an active role in deploying the buoys. To read more about the buoys, which aim to help scientists understand climate change and sea level rise, click here.

Volunteers will work closely with and under the supervision of staff from the Greek America Foundation, Old Dominion and Aegean Rebreath. Other volunteer activities and locations in Hania will be shared with participants in the weeks prior to the program’s start date. Ordinarily, volunteers will work for 4-6 hours per day (with lunch breaks) in the greater area of Hania.

In the evenings and at times during the day, volunteers will either have free time to explore or attend meal-inclusive excursions arranged by the Greek America Foundation. The foundation will also offer excursions to the beaches, villages, museums and culturally important sites in Hania.

Program specifics

Accommodations will be provided at hotels in the heart of Athens (Arrival/orientation – TBA) and Hania (TBA). Daily breakfast is included. Several group lunches and dinners will also be provided. Participants should budget about €80-100 per week for extra meals that are not included in the package. Transportation to and from volunteer locations will be provided via privately arranged transportation as required by the day’s activities. Excursions/activities are included in the price of the program. Airfare to Greece is not included; however, our staff can help with travel arrangements.

The Greek America Foundation will require all participants to have travel medical insurance for emergency and routine medical needs during program dates. The approximate cost ranges from $30-50 USD, depending on your age. We will provide further information on where to purchase insurance after you are accepted into the program. If you currently own a health insurance policy, we suggest that you check whether coverage is available abroad. On-site staff will be available 24/7 to support volunteers should emergencies arise.

Desired qualities in a volunteer

The Greek America Foundation seeks 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. Our volunteer work may at times be physically demanding: summer temperatures in Greece can reach 100 degrees and at times we will be outside engaging in physical activity. Please note that we will always be mindful of putting everyone’s health first during hot weather. 
Staff from the Greek America Foundation and our partner organizations will be accessible at all times. We encourage all volunteers to take down time, practice self-care and use their own coping strategies while engaged in this work. Having strong boundaries, knowing your limits and when to take a break are important skills while volunteering.

Scholarships/program fees

If you need financial aid, you may opt for a full scholarship covering all program costs including accommodation; local transportation; cultural meals and excursions and administrative fees. Airfare to Greece is not covered by scholarship funds. You can also opt to pay for the program if you do not require financial aid. The cost for participation is $2,600 (plus airfare). It is not necessary for you to complete a separate application or provide additional materials to receive a scholarship; instead, you will specify this detail in your application by selecting “Pay” or “Scholarship.”

Application process

In order to apply and be accepted to the volunteer program, you must prepare your resume, a cover letter and two recommendation letters from two different individuals, and upload them when completing the application form. After you have submitted your application, you will be contacted by a member of the Greek America Foundation staff to conduct a brief interview.

Frequently asked questions

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 it safe to be in Athens/Hania?

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 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. 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.

Is your question not included above?

Please email our program director, Eleni Anagnostopoulos, to receive further information.