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The Oakland Post

Greece Study Abroad: Education Unites

John Bozick, Web Editor

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During his last official state visit, former-President Barack Obama spoke at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens, Greece. It was here that he announced a program in which the U.S. embassy would partner with the three American-Greek universities in providing education for 100 displaced students.

The program, deemed “Education Unites,” was made capable thanks to a $340,000 donation to the American College of Greece in Athens. The program will be split between the American College of Greece in Athens, the American College of Thessaloniki, and Perrotis College at the American Farm School.

The total grant offered by the United States to all three universities was around $700,000. The program will be carried out by the State Department working through the U.S. embassy in Athens.

According to Lucy Kanatsoulis, the dean of enrollment and international studies at the American College of Greece, “The main aim of the project is to help refugees gain access to new skills and education that will help to better integrate them in society.”

Students will participate in workshops provided by the Student Services Office where they will learn the basics of going to an American or European university. The goal is to help better integrate them into college life. 

The students will be taught English and will be eligible to take up to two college level courses at any of the three universities. The program will be co-funded using money from both the university’s financial aid and the U.S. embassy to provide everything from books, on campus living and meals for the students in the program. 

They will also work with the student affairs office in order learn the basics of the professional world such as making a Linkedin account, developing a professional portfolio and thinking about the steps needed to further their education.  

“Education is seen as a critical piece of integration and whether that integration is here in Greece  or elsewhere in Europe, education for kids this age is very critical and that’s part of the vision for this program,” said Education Unites admissions consultant, Kathleen Macdonald.

MacDonald described the Education Unites program as the first of its kind.

“We’re looking at this as sort of a pilot program, we don’t know of any other universities that offer programs quite like this,” she said.

The overall goal of this program is to educate refugees through the program so that they are more capable of securing a job. According to Kathleen, this is the biggest factor in integrating these students into society.

Even if funding for the program does not continue with President Donald Trump’s administration, the university along with non-profits, and even help from the EU, would be capable of running a similar program.

Students enrolled at the American College of Greece will be eligible to choose from a wide array of courses, such as fundamentals of academic English, survey of western civilization, mathematics for liberal arts and many others.

The American College of Thessaloniki will only offer two classes that students will be able to take: the “information literacy class” and an English lab. However, the American Farm College offers a much broader variety with classes such as agricultural economics, information technology and chemistry among others.

The deadline for displaced students to apply is August 30, 2017.

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