19 Sep 2018

CYA President Welcomes Class of Fall ’18

Fall ’18 semester started off with a week-long orientation program full of engaging activities. CYA President Alexis Phylactopoulos spoke to the students on the opening day of orientation week. Here are excerpts of his remarks.

“My main piece of advice to you is to become engaged. Put your fears behind and go out, force yourself to explore the unfamiliar. Try to make contact with local people… follow the local news, travel, experience Athens, get lost, take the public transport, visit places other than the tourist destinations. This country has so much to offer you apart from Mykonos and Santorini”.

“I know your minds are set on becoming attractive to the labor market, and you are probably wondering how this semester will help you in this regard. We live in a world of constant flux and change, many professions of today will not be there tomorrow. There is a debate on the role of higher education. Is higher education necessary in order to provide vocational skills or to lead you to a happy fulfilled life as good citizens? In this debate, CYA supports the view that liberal education is supposed to serve the latter purpose but that study abroad teaches you necessary skills for the job market.

Any of the general education courses we offer at CYA will help you become more employable, by improving your abilities to reason, analyze complex ideas, develop skills of written and oral presentation, and by becoming more acute critical thinkers and this is what employers want from you. Your semester abroad will help you adapt to other societies and sharpen your intercultural skills”. 

“You have come to Greece at a time of great crisis, which is compounded by the plight of the immigrants arriving to its shores. But this also is an interesting time to watch your country and the world from outside the US. The world as we know it, is turning upside down. The opening of borders brought globalization, which in turn brought urbanization and great migratory movements. We are now experiencing the reaction to all this: nationalism, populism, the rise of the extreme right in Europe, Brexit, the Trump policies, all are symptoms of the same phenomenon”. 

You have embarked on a marvelous voyage. Your shipmates are 106 fellow American students from 53 schools. This is one of the beauties of CYA, that you can make new friends from colleges other than your own. Your destination is not only to finish the semester with good grades but to grow personally and to become more rounded individuals, more independent and self-reliant”.