Dirt, dancing and democracy - our trip to Greece

Girlguiding Cymru offered seven members of The Senior Section a unique trip to Greece

We painted a fountain, an old prison and a playground, set up an exhibition and went to an amazing democracy festival. We've discovered so much about Greece, each other and most importantly ourselves.

After months of organising and fundraising, two Leaders and seven members of The Senior Section (Megan, Rachael, Naomi, Lili, Ruth, Hannah, Libby, Jodie, Julie and Liz) went to Greece on Girlguiding Cymru's international trip. Here are the highlights from our two weeks in Oropos and Athens.

We re-vamped an old prison

The charity we were working with, Citizens in Action, is turning an old prison into a training centre for human rights and democracy. We donned our protective masks and gloves to clean it out, brush plaster from the ceiling, litter-pick, and drench each other as we hosed down the floors. Then we painted the graffiti-covered walls and the kerb outside with white paint, which dried instantly in the Greek sun.

We also slept in the prison while we stayed in Oropos!

We learned (some) Greek

We learned the Greek alphabet and how to write our names. Megan and Rachael proved to be pretty good at learning Greek and began a competition between themselves to see who could say 'Kalimera' (good morning) to the most Greek locals.

We set up a democracy exhibition

After all the cleaning and painting we set up a festival exhibition in one of the prison cells. Our friend Yorgos taught us about how people were locked in prisons, like the one we were staying in, for having different political opinions when Greece was ruled by a dictatorship in the 1970s.

We created our own work of art

Outside the prison there was an old fountain which was covered in graffiti. After a long scrubbing and cleaning job, we painted it with flowers and a bright sunset. Although we may have got more paint on ourselves than the fountain!

We went to a democracy festival

The festival involved talks about democracy (in Greek of course, but we clapped anyway) including one from an ex-prisoner who had been held in the bedroom we were now staying in. He hadn't been back since then because he was scared, however, he now felt it was important to come and tell his story. There was a band from Athens who played into the night and a documentary about a famous musician who was also held in the prison.

We danced

As well as trying to learn some basic Greek dancing steps (some of us were better than others), we taught people jac-y-dor, a Welsh folk dance. We also shared some Welsh poetry and made Welsh cakes for our new Greek friends.

We climbed up to the Acropolis

It's fair to say we sweated buckets! The sun was scorching as we got higher up, but after a 45-minute walk, the view from the top was beautiful.

We slept under the stars

We dragged our mattresses outside for our last night all together in Oropos. We awoke to the sound of crickets in the trees.

We ran in the first ever Olympic stadium

The stadium held the first official international games in 1896 so we all raced around the Olympic track – it turned out to be a lot longer than it looked!

Our international journey has created so many unforgettable memories and some very special friendships. We've laughed, cried and pulled each other through to achieve what at first seemed impossible. If you're thinking about going on an international guiding trip – go for it!

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