Greece 2023 Review – Fulbright Specialist Project

What an absolute joy to collaborate with Faculty and Student colleagues at Panteion University in May 2023. For two-weeks I offered a few ideas in my passion area of Leadership Life-stories.

I received so much more in return.

To me, the best part of the projects as a Fulbright Specialist is the opportunity to learn. The time in Athens, Greece is now one of my pivotal turning points in life because of the collaboration, the learning, and experiencing the joy from the people and places of this wonderful country.

Collaboration – Greek Style

Since 1948, Fulbright Greece has provided opportunities for scholars and artists to collaborate. As the oldest program in Europe and the second oldest continuously operating Fulbright in the world, the staff of Fulbright Greece continue to remain focused on providing opportunities for mutual understanding. Because of this opportunity through Fulbright Greece, I’m now 1 of over 6,000 student and faculty scholars and artists from all over the world.

My global understanding was improved by working directly with Dimitra Iordanoglou and Betty Tsakarestou. I owe a huge debt to these wonderful scholars for the freedom to share ideas.

As a faculty member, I heard about the challenges AND opportunities facing Institutions of Higher Learning across the globe. These conversations were timed perfectly. I arrived back home to mass firings and major upheaval at my Institution. I’m already using these conversations in Greece to inform my personal and professional steps forward in the United States.

Learning – Greek Style

Tied closely to Collaboration are the steps forward in the Learning environment.

My work with Leadership Life-stories comes out of an understanding of Communication (Dance, 1967), Servant-Leadership (Greenleaf, 1977) and Shalom (Brueggemann, 1983 & Harper, 2016), which point back to a small taste of the Glory of Heaven.

I learned a tremendous amount of new information from individual and group interviews. Through these comments, I was gently guided to a greater understanding of the Greek culture and their personal concerns about starting careers.

I discovered that whether individuals are in Greece or the United States, some concerns are the same. I’m hearing the individuals want to find a job, be effective in the work, and to truly find something meaningful and that can Make a Difference at home and in their communities.

Being Present – Greek Style

Greece is a beautiful country. After the two-weeks of teaching, we took the time to travel. To me, this is an important part after the Specialist experience. I appreciate the people, the place, and learning how to find joy by being present.

People – The people of Greece that I talked to seem to have a strong hope for the future while recognizing the challenges of the past. I heard the statement that “I love my country” and there is a pride in the rich history that can be traced back thousands of years. A quick walk in Athens takes you past evidence from the foundation of Western thought to the more recent history of the economic challenges in the 2010’s.

Places – I’m still amazed at the confidence of the Greeks crossing traffic in the hustle and bustle of 4 million people in Athens. Every corner had the roar of motorbikes at the start line and car horns communicating with each other. Our trip to visit the Acropolis was joined by 10,000 of our very close friends (smile)!

My first day on the 45-minute walk to campus I passed the Panathenaic Stadium which held the first modern day Olympics in 1896.

I’m also grateful for the times of renewal and travel to the islands of Hydra and Santorini, and the Monastery of Meteora.

These are permanent pictures in my mind.

Learning the Joy of Being Present – An important lesson for me over the 3-weeks in Greece was continued learning to find joy by being present. Partly personal and partly cultural, I have a tendency to think ahead about the next moment instead of being present in this moment. Whether the moment is good or a challenge, there is a value to being present.

I continue to work on this in my life.

Several times during this experience, I was challenged to just enjoy the moment and allow space to breath in and breath out. These moments are right in front of you if you take the time to look. From conversations with learners in the Library or the cafe, these are available to everyone, if the time is taken.

For me, sipping Greek coffee along an alley, listening to the hooves of the donkeys clop, clop by on the island of Hydra with my wife Dawnette was one of them.

Another was watching the clouds race across the sky on the island of Santorini during a surprisingly brisk sunset. I do NOT take these moments for granted.


A few weeks ago, I offered the idea that the Greek word “Efcharisto” is an important breathing in and breathing out of Gratitude and Thanks that is foundational for Leadership Life-stories.

To wrap up this quick review, Thanks Fulbright Greece and Panteion University for these conversations. I appreciate the opportunity to explore in and out of the classroom during this experience. The time in Athens, Greece provides an important Leadership Life-story for me that will continue to grow in the weeks and years to come. 

Feel free to reach out if you are interested in learning more. I love these conversations and look forward to the interaction.

Let's Connect

One of my strongest passions is connecting with others and hearing their stories. Even if we never work together, I’d still love to meet you, learn more about you, and hear some of your unique experiences.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you, future friend. 

Chris Hamstra

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