Harvard Summer Program in Greece: 20th year anniversary


Poster for the 20-year anniversary event of the Harvard Summer Program in Greece with invitation call texts and a background picture of a past group of participants watching the sunset on a grassy slope with olive trees

Summer 2021 marked 20 years since the program’s first iteration back in 2002. Two wonderful decades of dynamic research, stimulating class conversations on comparative cultural studies and beyond, exploration of Greek landmarks and history, shared meals, and shared laughs that started in Olympia and continued steady and strong, having welcomed hundreds of students and members of the Harvard and broader academic community throughout the years.

The celebratory event on June 26 & 27, 2021 aimed to bring together the people of the program to share their stories and insights, to reflect and hopefully get inspired for another 20 years and more.

This page is hosting the schedule of the event, videos and photographs gathered since the summer of 2012, testimonies, and the call for the photo contest organized on the occasion of the anniversary.

Schedule of the anniversary event

1st session: How the program came to be

Faculty and associates talking about the concept, the establishment, and the trajectory of the Harvard Summer Program in Greece.

2nd session: Spotlights on alumni

Brief presentations by alumni on a topic of interest from their respective fields and how it connects with their experience from the program.

  • Pano Yannakogeorgos (Year 2003) on “Connecting Hellenic Antiquity with a Career in Cyber and Global Security: Reflections on the Olympia Summer Program”
  • Kathryn Gundersen (Year 2015) on “International Law: A Vital Tool for Organizing the Modern World”

3rd session: Alumni meet-ups

Online activities for reminiscing and bonding.

1st session: Presentation of the Comparative Cultural Studies workshops and volumes that have been accomplished as spin-offs of the program.

Dr. Yota Batsaki and Dr. Dimitris Kastritsis leading the discussion.

2nd session: Spotlights on alumni

Brief presentations by alumni on a topic of interest from their respective fields and how it connects with their experience from the program.

  • Roshni Chakraborty (Year 2018) on “Documenting Citizenship: Gender, Statelessness, and India's New Citizenship Laws”
  • Lefteris Kefalas (Year 2014) on "Harvard Summer Program in Greece: A Spark for Future Endeavors in the field of Modern Greek Studies"

3rd session: Closing session – Alumni meet-ups

Online activities for reminiscing and bonding. Photo contest winner selection.

Photo Contest

Adding to the celebration of the anniversary, we extended a call to the program’s past participants –alumni, fellows, faculty, guests– to submit photos from their archive taken while attending the program. Candidates were asked to submit photos depicting unique Greek landscapes or special moments in the program’s company. A prize awaited the creator of the winning photo, which was be selected by the participants of the anniversary event during the closing session.

Videos from years 2013 to 2019









If I could do this program again tomorrow, I would! Such a meaningful learning experience, which reflected in all aspects of my life after completion, not just academic. I strongly encourage applicants who aren’t studying at Harvard to also apply. […] Not only did I learn about Greek history, but I also learned many different things from my fellow American, Chinese, and Greek peers too, and I'm sure they learned things from me. […] The Harvard Summer School Program in Greece is a life-changing adventure, filled with academia, exploration, friendship, breathtaking scenic tours, and unforgettable memories with all the people involved. An experience like this is one to consider, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!

2015 participant

The program had a great balance between work and free time, visiting different places and having professors rotate. There is something in this program for everyone. […] It was one of the best experiences of my life. I met some amazing people and learned a great deal. I will be back in Greece.

2018 participant

This is an absolutely incredible program. The setting, the material, and the people are all intriguing and beautiful. The course material allows one to explore concepts and periods outside his or her sphere of knowledge in a positive and interesting way. Intellectual & fun.

2016 participant

Thank you so much to everyone who made this program a possibility – innumerable memories and friendships have been made. It has been an absolute honor meeting all of you.

2019 participant

The Greek concept of νόστος, means homecoming, particularly returning home after a long journey that has changed you in some way. We’ ve joked about this term so much this summer (nostos or nah?) that sometimes it seems to have lost its meaning, but as I prepare for my own homecoming, I can’t help thinking about the impact Greece has made on me. I’m so grateful to have spent my first extended period abroad here, in a country that welcomed me with warm smiles and open arms during this time of national crisis, despite my short-lived presence. Some parts of me will always remain in Greece, floating on the moonlit Mediterranean, running through the ancient Olympic stadium, soaring amongst the steep cliffs of Meteora. I don’t know how to say thank you to the many people who have made this experience so incredible. Ευχαριστώ, Ελλάδα. Σ’αγαπώ. Εις το επανιδείν.

2015 participant

The Harvard Summer School Program in Greece was unquestionably one of the single best experiences of my time at Harvard - academically, culturally, and personally. I learned so much about the history and culture of ancient and modern Greece, traveled to so many of its most beautiful cities and sites, and made lasting, heartfelt friendships with students, professors, and staff from all over the world. If I could relive my experience in the program again, I absolutely would in a heartbeat. I will never forget that first summer in Greece, and I hope generations of future students will continue to cherish the magic of this truly one-of-a-kind program.

2014 participant

It is unimaginable how a group of people, who would never have thought they would ever cross paths, can end up bonded by valuable friendships. It is inspiring how much knowledge that covers a wide range of academic interests can be conveyed in weekly classes and passed onto the students with interesting and enjoyable methods. It is uncommon that a group of professors and coordinators can be always there for you, during class, excursions, even during late-night card games, despite their highly demanding schedules. It is amazing how a five-week-long Summer Program can change one’s perspective on his/her (student) life. It is also amazing how fast time flies by… I will be always grateful that I got to be a part of the Harvard Summer School Program in Greece

2014 participant

It’s been great, Greece. The most wonderful five weeks I've ever spent and far far better than anything I’d ever imagined before leaving the US. I’ll be back!

2013 participant

The program was incredibly well planned, organized, and executed. It struck the right balance between an academic and cultural experience. […] Thank you for a wonderful summer experience! It was both academically and culturally profound as well as fun and relaxing.

2011 participant

Generous thanks to the coordinators of this program. Thank you for all you have done for the two Chinese students and the two scholarships that the program offered to us. It was a great pleasure for me to participate in this program. […] I attended courses offered by well-known scholars and I had chances to communicate with them on certain academic problems, which made me very happy and exciting. Also, I had the great opportunity to visit some of the famous ancient sites and museums of Greece, spent some time beside the sea and on beautiful islands. This enhanced my understanding of this country which I fell in love with. 

2011 participant

I still remember the amazing food and beautiful view overlooking the olive tree groves in Olympia, and in Nafplio we ate at an outdoor terrace a few nights that was equally beautiful. It was awesome to have the professors eat with us, because we got to know them in a very casual setting where we could expand on some of the topics we were learning in class (or just talk about our favorite parts of the trip).

2010 participant

Without a doubt, though, my favorite thing about the program was how tight-knit the group became, which I attribute to the program's holistic approach - focusing not just on its syllabus and time in the classroom, but also on shaping an enriching overall experience. Conversations that started in the classroom continued by the pool or on our trips, and our professors were available along the way. When guest lecturers came, we consumed their talks as a familiar (if not familial) unit. Those particularly interested in the topic at hand could then position themselves nearby the speaker at a meal afterwards and dig even deeper.

2010 participant

This summer in Greece was an amazing, truly enriching experience for all of us! In me, it inspired a whole new horizon of thoughts on my own subject, the classics, but also on a huge range of other issues, such as the Ottoman and Byzantine Empires, modern imperialism, and Mediterranean mentality. Most of all, though, I learned about this wonderful, richly historical country, Greece, and built up a really personal connection to it. The many wonderful individuals I got to meet and know really well in the course of the program—such as my fantastic Greek roommate—left a lasting impression on me too, and I will certainly keep cherishing the many memories we share.

2008 participant

Photos from years 2012 to 2019

See all the photos of the program

Logo for the 20-year anniversary event of the Harvard Summer Program in Greece which consists of the number 20 composed by yellow and blue colors and a text circle