From the cliff top monasteries of Meteora, to the narrow Gates of the Samariá Gorge on the island of Crete, one of Hermiston’s own is going to see it all in Greece this month.
Delia Fields, the secondary school librarian at the Hermiston School District, has been selected to be part of a group of 14 educators from across Oregon for the trip, organized by Center for Geography Education in Oregon, based out of Portland State University.
The C-GEO works to “improve and sustain” geography education in Oregon. In addition to providing instructional materials and other resources, the organization has sent teachers on trips within Oregon, across the nation and to other countries.
“Their most basic point is you’re more able to teach about a place when you’ve been there and you can share firsthand experience about it,” Fields said.
Ancient Greece, sometimes known as the Cradle of Western Civilization, is a key component of world history. The educators will be visiting Athens, Delphi, and Crete, where they will have the opportunity to take a local cooking class.
The C-GEO gave each of the program participants a handful of gifts to give out to people they meet during the trip as “goodwill gestures”, including copies of an Oregon atlas.
Fields will be the only educator from the Eastern Oregon area to attend this trip, which was funded by the John and Betty Gray Geography Foundation, through the Oregon Community Foundation.
“We’ve been doing this for a few years now and it really has been impactful for teachers to have these opportunities to really learn geography education in the process of the trip,” said Nancy Bales, executive director of the Gray Family Foundation.
Through the same program, Fields was able to visit the Appalachian region of the U.S. a few summers ago. She said the trip helped her create some of the most involved lesson plans she’s ever designed.
All of the educators, Field included, will return to Oregon after 17 days to create different K-12 lesson plans, including ones which incorporate Oregon’s geography with Greece’s.
“This reaches the students and the students’ families. You’ve got to be literate in geography just to operate in our world,” Fields said, “Just because it’s important, regrettably, doesn’t mean we can find the time for it. So you have to be creative.”
Fields is working on imagining how Greek educators express the rich ancient culture of Greece to their students, and how those approaches might translate to regional history and geography.
“When kids go to Whitman Mission and all there is is just some rubble, some outlines, they have to imagine Marcus and Narcissa’s cabin,” Fields said.
Participants will also be giving presentations on different regions of Greece during the trip. Fields will be presenting information on Delphi, which Ancient Greeks believed to be the center of the world.
For now, Fields is brushing up on her Greek and looking forward to viewing the Acropolis of Athens through her hotel window when the group makes their first stop in the Greek capital.
“Some of it looks like not much,” Fields said of the ancient sites of Greece she will soon visit. “But I can only imagine what came before.”