By Mary Helen Darah
Northview High School students, family members, teachers and chaperones recently returned from a cultural excursion to Greece. The trip focused on art, history and immersion into a new culture. Helena Darah, an intervention specialist at Northview, served as group leader and led the tour through EF, Education First Educational Tours. She was accompanied by Ryan Creech, also an educator at Northview, who has led over seven EF Tours. He brought along his three daughters whose international tours were canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19.
Highlights of the trip included a tour of Olympia and Archeological Museum of Olympia with an expert guide, setting sail on a Saronic Islands tour and a swim in the Saronic Gulf. The group also participated in a pottery workshop and guided tour of Delphi to see the Temple of Apollo. The group also made a visit to the Parthenon and Temple of Athena.
“One of the kids’ favorite excursions was exploring the historical sights of Delphi. It was one of the most beautiful areas I have ever seen, and the history behind the city is incredibly fascinating,” stated Darah. “We also got to see where the original Olympics took place. All the students were able to race on the original Olympic track.
Once Darah and the Northview travelers arrived in Greece, a seasoned tour director took the helm. “The tour director guides the travelers through the entire trip, helps with excursions and makes certain things run smoothly,” stated Darah. “Our guide, Emmanouli, who was born in South Africa but has been a citizen of Greece for over six years, was so knowledgeable. He has visited over 63 countries and lived in over 10. The students had a strong rapport with him from day one. He knew the ins and outs of Greece. He taught them to keep an open mind and embrace a new culture. He was humorous and the students felt safe with him.”
The trip culminated with a festive evening. “Our last night in Athens was so much fun. All the EF tour groups from around the US met and had a traditional Greek feast filled with music, dancing and total immersion into Greek culture. It was so awesome to see the students break out of their shells, try new things and embrace a new world.”
Northview educator Darah strongly believes in the importance of traveling, especially during the high school years. “This experience taught students many life lessons including responsibility, being on time and the importance of being patient. Patience is huge,” she stated. “Our students got to see that there is a whole new world outside of Sylvania. Many have told me that they want to continue traveling to new places. It truly was a trip of a lifetime. Everyone on the trip did not want to leave and walked away more independent, more self-aware and more likely to take risks. We lived life to the fullest in our 10 days together.”
The next trip on the horizon offered by Northview High School will be a service trip to Peru. “The service piece will be building a greenhouse for a local village,” explained Darah. “The produce grown in the greenhouse can be used to increase the village revenue by 80 percent. The service piece will last two days. The other eight days will be filled with cultural immersion, meeting with the villagers and exploring the beautiful country of Peru. We will see Manchu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, and be guided on tours around Lima, the Mira Flores, and the San Francisco Monastery. The kids will have an opportunity to interact with villagers, go to market and have plenty of time for self-exploration.”
Darah offered, “Lao Tzu once said, ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.’ I hope students take the leap into seeing the world from a new perspective and expanding their minds as they expand their borders.”
Northview students interested in the June 2023 Peruvian experience may contact Helena Darah at email@example.com.