Sophomore Laura Cermak’s love of reading the Greek classics – The Iliad, The Odyssey – and studying the many other works of Homer and Plato has helped her to appreciate the Greek culture, especially since she reads these momentous works in the original Greek language. She has found that reading them in their original language brings much more depth to the stories and gives her more insights into the ancient Greek world.
This love of learning and the Greek culture caused her to take advantage of a unique opportunity that was suggested to her through a Christendom classics professor, Dr. Andrew Beer — a 10-day program in Greece called “Athens through the Ages.”
Beer learned of this program from a friend of his who is the program director, Georgia Sermamoglou-Soulmaidi, a native Athenian whom Beer befriended in graduate school.
Cermak, who earned the college’s prestigious Padre Pio Full-Tuition Scholarship in 2015, has been eagerly studying Greek and the works of Western Civilization since arriving at the college. Now, with this unique opportunity before her, Cermak decided to take her passion a step further, and become part of the first four-person team in the new program.
“It was cool to be a part of this trailblazing group. There we were, four self-selected adventurers, all prepared to make the most of the experience,” says Cermak. “We spent ten days surveying the history and culture of Athens from the classical period all the way up to the present day. We visited all the major historical sites, including the Acropolis, the ancient agora, and Plato’s Academy. We also experienced a taste of Greek music and film, and were introduced to the modern Greek language. And, of course, we got to try some new delicious food every day.”
Cermak traveled across Athens in the middle of a very unique group. Joining her were a rising junior from UC Berkeley, a Canadian masters student, and a Brazilian philosophy professor. These four, in addition to Semamouglou-Soulamidi, all from different walks of life, bonded on this journey of knowledge. And Cermak loved every moment of it.
“After ten days of exploring Athens’ rich culture and history, the five of us in the group had become quite close, despite hailing from all different parts of the world. The program was an outstanding complement to my studies in classics at Christendom,” says Cermak.
Cermak plans to continue expanding her world of knowledge after graduation through travel and study, taking what she is learning at the undergraduate level out into the greater world at large.
“I enjoy studying Greek because I find it incredibly enriching to read Homer and Plato in the original language, and because I love a good challenge. There’s nothing like studying classics to orient you in appreciating Western Civilization.”