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Program Overview

Study & Volunteer on a Teaching Farm on the Mediterranean

Your academic home in Greece will be Perrotis College, also known as the American Farm School. This unique program is perfect for students interested in agriculture, animal husbandry, animal welfare, biology, veterinary medicine, horticulture, food science technology, environmental systems management, and international agribusiness;. Students will benefit greatly from the experience to study and volunteer doing real, hands-on work in these fields.

 

The language of instruction is English, as the American Farm School was founded by Americans to serve students from the Balkan Countries who speak different languages. Students study and serve alongside Greek, Albanian, Macedonian, Serbian, Croatian and other European and international students.

 

Perrotis College is situated on unique rural acreage just outside of the bustling urban center of Thessaloniki and houses a state of the art-of-the-art Educational Dairy and Milk Processing Training center that includes a Holstein Friesian dairy herd that is ranked among the top 10% in the world and from which students help produce and market prize-winning dairy products. The college also houses a newly created on-campus elementary school dedicated to exposing children to environmental education through experiential-learning. The school has a long history of sustainable living and utilizes a blend of theory and practical experiences in outdoor classrooms, dairies, poultry farms, vineyards, fruit and olive orchards, vegetable gardens, greenhouses, fields and state-of-the-art science laboratories to give each student a hands-on education like no other.

 

Thessaloniki, the capital of Central Macedonia, is a 2,300 year old city that still plays a vital and active role in international trade for much of Southern Europe. Those interested in Grecian history will adore Thessaloniki’s unique history as a symbol of the Byzantine Empire and a free state under Roman rule. The city was also influenced by the occupation of the Ottoman empire, and was the site where the Young Turk Revolution began.

 

Where you’ll stay in Thessaloniki

Students will live in a homestay on Perrotis campus with families of faculty and staff or off campus with local Greek families. All host families are carefully selected and experienced with hosting students. Living with local residents is part of the immersion experience and students will have the chance to learn what it’s like to be a “Thessalonikian.”

 

Eligibility

The program welcomes students of any nation who have a high school diploma or equivalent credential. TOEFL equivalent 550. No Greek language requirement.

Thessaloniki side street

I fell in love with Thessaloniki in a way that I have never loved before. Wandering around the city was healthy, exhilarating, and aligned with my desire to adventure. My study abroad experience was split between three places: Perrotis College, downtown Thessaloniki, and my home in Panorama. Perrotis College is a great place to study agriculture. My service-learning placement was at ARSIS. ARSIS is an NGO that partners with homeless street children located in downtown Thessaloniki. I taught art lessons and supported an English teacher during her English lessons. I lived with an awesome family in Panorama. My host mom Maria became my closest friend while I was abroad. She constantly supported me. We had a lot of fun. One of my favorite travel experiences in Greece was exploring the anarchist district in Athens. I would recommend the program to anyone who is interested in agriculture, loves to explore, and is politically conscious.” – Becca R., Seattle

Academics

Located in Thessaloniki, a key academic and commercial center in Southeastern Europe, The American Farm School at Perrotis College enables students from around the world to engage in active, hands-on learning in both the humanities and sciences. Students interested in agriculture, animal husbandry, animal welfare, veterinary medicine, horticulture, food science technology, environmental systems management, and international agribusiness would benefit greatly from this program. Humanities students will also find a variety of courses available in history, culture, and language. Theory as well as practice is emphasized along with practical preparation for careers.


The American Farm School at Perrotis is housed on a century-old campus in the Northeastern part of Greece. This small school (on a large and lush campus) hosts students both from Greece and a wide range of countries including Turkey, Italy, the Balkans, and Serbia. The holistic nature of the program is well-suited for students who want to "do and experience" as a complement to traditional academic learning.


With over 100 years of experience in educating the "whole individual: the head, the hands and the heart," the American Farm School is dedicated to the fusion of theory and practice in its agricultural, life science, business and animal welfare programs. The American Farm School established the Perrotis College of Agriculture, Environment and Life Sciences in 1996 and recently created a new Center for Agricultural Entrepreneurship in 2012 with the mission of creating sustainable entrepreneurship and educating future business owners. The college is unique in that it offers programs of study in more than just humanities and liberal arts.


Students may take up to 16 semester credits, including three required courses  (7 credits) and up to three additional elective choices from a wide variety of disciplines.


Summer in Thessaloniki, Greece

Required Courses



Introduction to Community Organizing and Social Activism in Greece


This course is delivered virtually and begins before departure and completes after returning. The content includes both pre-departure and post departure information, discussion and reflection. The course explores the theories and practical realities of intercultural service-learning to help make sense of the international experience and to develop intercultural competence. One credit will be awarded for 15 hours of academic reflections work and 2 credits for the hands-on service-learning volunteering.


Contact Hours: 45


Recommended U.S. Credits: 3



The Greek Cultural Experience



This course introduces students to various aspects of modern Greek life and culture, including basic elements of Greek language, history, society and traditional dances. Through lectures and organized trips and tours, students are introduced to the basic concepts and experiences that will enable them to understand and respond to cultural differences. In addition, this class provides a forum through which they can reflect on and discuss their international experiences.


Contact Hours: 45


Recommended U.S. credits: 3



Institutions in Greek Society


This Service-Learning course enables students to engage in volunteer work and service activities on the American Farm School (AFS) campus in the Thessaloniki area and in rural Greece. Students enrolled in this class perform 10-15 hours per week of volunteer service by choosing from a variety of activities, which can be done on an individual or group basis. These activities include doing volunteer work in one of the departments of the AFS Educational Farm (e.g. assisting the veterinarian or helping in the greenhouses, winery, or dairy and poultry units). Volunteers may also tutor high school students in English, work in the Daycare/Kindergarten, or do volunteer service for charities, NGOs or ecologically-oriented organizations in the larger Thessaloniki area.


Contact Hours: 45


Recommended U.S. credits: 3




Optional courses offered


Students may take up to 9 credits (three additional courses) per semester from the following options. Please note that not all courses will be available all terms.




The Greek Palate (Greek Cuisine)


This course provides students with basic information about Greek cuisine and its ingredients. It highlights the nutritional significance of the Mediterranean diet and examines the culture and eating habits of Greece. Students interested in diet and health as a way of understanding culture and society will enjoy this course's hands-on approach. You'll have the chance to cook traditional foods as well as find ingredients in local markets, taverns, wineries, and farms. Students will also have time to reflect on the relationship between food and culture.


Contact Hours: 45


Recommended U.S. credits: 3



Legal and Ethical Aspects of Travel and Tourism




This course aims to provide students with the essential understanding of tourism and travel law so that they can recognize and evaluate the ethical issues related to the tourism industry. Case studies will be used throughout to create relevant examples of ethical tourism best practices.


Contact Hours: 45


Recommended U.S. credits: 3



Nutrition


This module aims to consider contemporary nutrition issues and discuss scientific controversies in the nutrition and food industries. Upon successful completion of the module, students will be able to critically review current nutritional issues and discuss the role of nutrition in healthcare and disease prevention.


Contact Hours: 45


Recommended US credits: 3



Nutrition and the Consumer


In this course students will study and utilize the media to explore the topic of consumer nutrition. Students will explore the marketing and advertising of food, and examine current consumer food issues and food marketing regulations.


Contact Hours: 45


Recommended U.S. credits: 3





Environmental Soil Science


This class introduces students to the fundamentals of soil ecological functions, genesis and classification as well as the physical and chemical properties that determine the suitability of soil for vegetable and fruit production. The module covers the application and use of plant nutrients and fertilizers, soil erosion, and desertification processes. Agricultural land at the school’s location and the surrounding region will be used for practical, hands-on laboratory instruction.


Contact Hours: 45


Recommended U.S. credits: 3



Volunteer Service

As a service-learning participant in Thessaloniki, Greece, you'll have the opportunity to do volunteer work in one of several local agencies. We do our best to match your skills and interests to the placement, but please remember that the notion of service is, first and foremost, to respond to the needs of others.


This program in Thessaloniki offers students the opportunity to experience service in a local city or on the American Farm School campus in rural Greece. Students perform 12-15 hours per week of volunteer service by choosing from a variety of agencies and organizations.


During your time in Greece, you'll be an active member of a volunteer team, and also help enrich the projects and programs with your knowledge, experience, and hard work. Your impact on other people's lives is bound to be both powerful and sustainable.


Night scene in Thessaloniki

The following are some of the service opportunities that may be available:


Migration, Refugee and Human Rights


This organization addresses racism and xenophobia in and around Greece, along with the wider European continent. Programs involve peace studies, non-violent action, social change, upward mobility for minority groups, human ecology, and anti-racism.


Projects Address:

  • Citizenship and Migration Issues Facing the EU (Asylum Seekers)

  • Human Rights Abuses

  • Education & School Systems

  • Crime Prevention

  • Mental and Physical Disabilities


Human Trafficking & Domestic Abuse


This NGO serves victims of human trafficking, sexual exploitation and domestic violence. Its primary role is providing a safe house for victims of sexual abuse, trafficking and exploitation. This shelter is open to men and children as well as women. Services include housing, food, clothing, and medical care. The NGO also provides individuals with psychological counseling and legal assistance. They work in coordination with authorities to visit women in detention centers to offer food and personal hygiene items. Their goal is to assist these women in starting their new lives.



Sustainability & Development


This collective (created by the Rockefeller Foundation) researches and helps prepare for the growing environmental, economic and social strains on our population. The theme is “Resilience” - the power and strength to be resilient to global problems. The “Challenge” consists of a contest where (now up to 100) member cities have been selected due to their progressive models for addressing these issues. The long term goal is to institutionalize the practice of resilience so all 10,000 of the world’s cities can improve and work toward creating more supportive systems for their citizens.



ARSIS


ARSIS is an NGO located in the center of Thessaloniki that helps homeless street children and their parents. Volunteers will be giving direct service to homeless and at-risk youth by providing English tutoring and peer social interaction through sports, art, and music. Volunteers tutor children between the ages of 8 and 16 in English and also participate in other activities.



Asylum for the Child


This school is located within walking distance of campus and serves the children of economically disadvantaged families in Thessaloniki. Volunteers can work with classroom teachers in the elementary school, assisting them in a variety of ways including teaching the children English.



Arktouros


This environmental organization works on conservation and environmental education programs. Volunteers can assist staff in caring for endangered animal species of Northern Greece, maintaining and staffing the visitors’ center and providing public conservation and environmental education.



American Farm School Educational Farm


Volunteers will assist the veterinarians, or help with the greenhouses, landscaping, winery, vineyard, orchards, dairy fields or poultry farms.



Dairy Farm

Volunteers will be responsible for the daily care and management of 250 dairy cows on a very unique farm. This includes feeding, milking, administering medication (learning to identify and treat basic cow diseases), managing the breeding process, and calving and caring for new calves. Students will also clean and maintain the farm buildings and equipment.



Dairy Processing Farm

Volunteers will learn the processing procedures of milk, butter, yogurt, and cheese. Your main responsibility will be processing the products using the dairy technology at the farm and analyzing them in the lab. All volunteers will follow proper milk handling procedures when unloading and transferring milk and will learn good manufacturing, laboratory and safety procedures according to ISO regulations.



Poultry Farm

Watch chicks emerge from their shells after you learn how to inspect eggs and use the specialized machinery to work all phases of the feeding and manufacturing process. Students will work on the farm in chicken processing, egg processing and assisting with packaging and labeling eggs to be marketed and sold.



Horticultural Department

Learn about the food and drinks that make up the real Mediterranean diet! Volunteers will assist in various plant research activities in the campus greenhouses and participate in research-based projects in sustainable agriculture. The vineyard makes wine from the grapes that volunteers fertilize, plant, and harvest. Volunteers may also prune olive trees or work with seedling corn, soya beans, and rice.



School and Educational Programs

Volunteers may tutor students in English and engage in environmental education projects as well as provide direct fundraising assistance.

Things to Do

Travel and Excursions that Broaden Your Perspective


Travel is an essential part of studying abroad. Taking knowledge from the classroom and applying it through direct engagement allows for greater language comprehension and cultural understanding.




City Tour


As part of the onsite arrival orientation, you'll be given a day-long guided city tour highlighting some of the important historical sites and museums in Thessaloniki. This will serve as an introduction to the rich history of this part of Greece as well as provide a logistical overview of the city.




Optional Group Excursions may include the following:




Mt. Olympus & Dion (two days, one night)


Students will enjoy a hike up to Mt. Olympus, home of the Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greek Mythology.




Athens (multi-day - Semester Only)


Students will have the opportunity to spend four days in Athens exploring everything this 3,400 year old city has to offer. Example: visit the Hellenic Parliament and the Acropolis.




Sailing Trip (four days, three nights, additional fee)


Go on an unforgettable journey to the Aegean islands of Alonissos, Skiathos and Skopelos and visit the National Marine Park.


In addition to the above trips, students may go on short excursions and field trips that are related to their class content, including visits to museums and markets, organic farms and vineyards, and nearby exhibitions and fairs.


All study abroad participants are encouraged—especially those in a semester program—to take part in all aspects of Perrotis College’s active student life. The Student Life Department and the Student Council organize numerous social, cultural and athletic activities for the entire student body, including barbecue parties and day trips to nearby hot springs, beaches, and ski resorts.


Students in Greece may also work with program staff on-site to arrange for independent travel to other areas of Greece or surrounding countries in Europe. As with all travel, weather and other hindrances can affect the exact destinations of excursions. In such cases, staff make every effort to find suitable replacement itineraries.


Sailing in Thessaloniki, Greece