Harvard Opens Center in Greece

Center for Hellenic Studies office will serve undergrads, grads, and faculty

Its toga parties aren’t as rollicking as Dartmouth’s, and its frat scene is sleepy compared to Cornell’s, but Harvard has made a major move to improve its Greek life.

Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies (CHS) opened an office in Nafplion, Greece last month as part of an effort to expand the University’s international programs.

The office, which was officially opened on Sept. 18, will serve to coordinate opportunities for undergraduate and graduate study abroad, faculty research, summer school, and other endeavors in Greece.

“Greece is an ideal place for Harvard undergraduates to experience contemporary European culture and engage with the rich historical culture of Greece, in particular,” said Jennifer S. Reilly, assistant director of the CHS in Greece. “The town of Nafplion is a beautiful, hospitable, and dynamic place, and the residents are eager to welcome the Harvard community.”

The 45-year-old CHS is headquartered at a six-and-a-half acre campus in Washington, D.C. Its new Greek branch will be housed in “a historic 19th century building,” said Reilly. The building is “in the Neo-classical style, a large three-story building facing the harbor and with a magnificent view,” she said.

Even though the office officially opened in September, some undergraduates participated in an internship program coordinated by the CHS in Greece this past summer.

Hayley Jade Fink ’08 interned in Greece for seven weeks through a program set up by the CHS.

“I would actually call it a life changing experience,” she said. “The program was great not only because we got to explore the [Greek] culture, but also every weekend we got to go on trips with the summer school program. We got to learn about the historical background, the cultural background.”

But Sergio Pardo ’09 said he thought students might not take advantage of research opportunities in Greece.

“As a History concentrator focusing on Ancient Mediterranean History, I find [the Greece office opening] interesting. For the rest of Harvard, I don’t think it would be that interesting because [Greece] doesn’t seem to be that prominent in modern history. It’s a minor country,” he said.

According to Christine S. Kim ’06, who is currently working at the new office in Nafplion, the CHS program is designed to appeal to students of all concentrations—not just those in Greek-related fields.

“This year we are offering eight internships in a variety of fields. The idea is to offer something that appeals to every student regardless of his or her concentration,” she said. “I think that what makes the internship such a great opportunity is that the CHS is specifically interested in developing close relationships with undergrads, and this is hopefully reflected in our efforts to cater to each student’s personal interest and to foster a close sense of community between interns and members of the CHS.”

According to the CHS press release, the organization—which was founded in 1962—decided to house its new office in Nafplion because it was the first capital of the modern Greek state.

“This place, then, symbolizes the continuity of Hellenic civilization,” the press release said, “in all its beautiful variations, for almost four thousand years.”