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My first night in Greece was everything I could have wanted. My flight got in around 9:30pm and I was picked up at the airport by two of the team members that I would be working with in Katerini. On our hour drive back from the airport, they got a phone call inviting all of us to a neighborhood festival that was happening in the downtown.

So it was that my first night back in Greece began as all nights in Greece should: with cold beer, delicious roasted chicken, and lots of sweaty folk dancing that lasted long into the night.

We stayed out until 1:00am or so, dancing, chatting, and getting to know one another. It turns out that there are a lot more international volunteers in this area than I had originally anticipated. There are a few folks here from Germany as well as around eight or so people from the states, all staying for various lengths of time and working with the Evangelical Church in Greece. Some will be here for a few months, while others are here for less than two weeks.

In the midst of all the excitement and stimuli on my first night, I took a few moments during the dancing to look around and soak it all in: a huge mass of people up by the stage holding hands and line dancing, swirling in circles, getting tighter towards the center; a warm breeze blowing, rustling my hair into my face; laughter and loud voices and clapping heard all around – all of us here participating in this experience of open community. It hit me then that I was back, really truly back in Greece, where all are welcomed and invited to join in because that’s what makes for a fantastic party.

It feels good to return!