The AHEPAN - Winter 2013 - (Page 16)

My Volunteer Vacation in Crete A Visit to My Father's Homeland By Lynn Lotkowictz The enthusiastic, inquisitive, and talented students of Morfosi School, Gazi, Crete. A granddaughter of one of my mother's dearest friends reached out to me while doing some genealogy research. She was trying to find out more about her family and her Greek heritage. In the process, she sent me old photos that brought back great memories about a culture and people I hadn't thought about in a long time. It was the perfect start to my first attempt at a "volunteer vacation." Instead of relaxing on a beach or sightseeing in Athens, I signed up for a two-week program, October 4 to 19, sponsored by Global Volunteers to help young students learn English in Crete. Since 1984, Global Volunteers ( has been offering a variety of programs in 19 countries. For me, the Crete program had strong personal appeal. My father and his family left Crete in 1917, traveling from Athens on the ship Patris for the 10- to 12-week Atlantic crossing to New York's Ellis Island. Like many immigrants who came from across Europe, my father's family was poor and in search of a better life in the United States. My father was seven-yearsold at the time. His family settled in New Jersey and he grew up realizing the American Dream. He had an amazing wife, four children, and success in business with "The Spinning Wheel Diner & Cocktail Lounge" in New Brunswick, N.J. My father never forgot his homeland, and I feel lucky that I have the opportunity to experience Crete for myself. Heading Out It was a long two days of travel from Tampa to Newark to 16 | THE AHEPAN ยท Winter 2013 Brussels and finally to Heraklion, Crete. The highlight of the flight was lunch on the last leg of the trip. Aegean Airlines provided authentic Greek yogurt with a side of spanakopita. Truly, it was the best in-flight meal ever! Crete is Greece's largest island and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. The main industries are agriculture and tourism. As with the rest of Greece, Crete's economy is feeling the impact of the country's economic crisis. Global Volunteer country leader "Sam" (short for Samantha) met me at Heraklion International Airport, and we drove to a modest hotel where all volunteers stay. Sam invited me to dinner with the two other volunteers participating in the program. They were a retired couple from California on their eighth Global Volunteers trip. The summer programs have 20 or more volunteers, but I deliberately chose October for a more personal, authentic experience. Orientation After the long day of travel, it was a relief that our program orientation was an informal gathering by the hotel pool. We introduced ourselves, set goals for the two weeks, and after lunch, took off in a teammate's rental car to visit some local villages. For me, it was an opportunity to practice my limited Greek language skills on the locals. During our excursion, we were lucky to see a Greek Orthodox wedding procession heading toward the church along with, what appeared to be, the entire village.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The AHEPAN - Winter 2013

President's Message
AHEPA Family News
AHEPA Commends 2013 National Scholarship Recipients
A Worthwhile Week
My Volunteer Vacation in Crete
Civic Responsibility
The Periclean
AHEPA Family Chapter News
Literary Corner
In Memoriam

The AHEPAN - Winter 2013