The AHEPAN - Winter 2013 - (Page 16)
Vacation in Crete
A Visit to My Father's Homeland
By Lynn Lotkowictz
The enthusiastic, inquisitive, and talented students of Morfosi School, Gazi, Crete.
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 (globalvolunteers.org) 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.
It was a long two days of travel from Tampa to Newark to
THE AHEPAN · 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.
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
AHEPA Family News
AHEPA Commends 2013 National Scholarship Recipients
A Worthwhile Week
My Volunteer Vacation in Crete
AHEPA Family Chapter News
The AHEPAN - Winter 2013