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‘This world has potential to be better, and it’s up to us’

May 22, 2013 | Hallie Kilavos

Perspective is everything.

Things seem black and white until you jump into a puddle of gray. For 10 days, puddles surrounded me.

I recently spent spring break in Greece with 23 Evangel University students, the majority of the time in Thessaloniki. Each day we interacted with university students and participated in community service activities.

I was raised Greek Orthodox, and I’ve always had a yearning to learn more about my culture, so I jumped at the chance to visit Greece, to learn about my history and develop a perspective to refine my future.

Our time at a gypsy camp impacted me the most.

The Roma gypsies are excluded from society; they settle outside of the city without water supplies or sewage systems. The only electricity they have is what they manage to steal. Two of the reasons they’re not accepted by the Greek society are their refusal to pay taxes or attend school.

After two buses and a hike, we entered a culture I’ve never seen before. As we walked down the dirt path towards the camp, kids emerged from every corner.

Hours passed as we painted the girls’ nails, played jump rope, kicked a soccer ball and blew bubbles. The excitement was contagious. They wanted to be held and acknowledged.

With the help of a translator, we performed a program to teach the kids some Greek and English, and we shared a story from the Bible. They sat in a circle as they listened and learned about our passion and hopes for them.

Soon our day had come to a close. We gave our last hugs and smiles and headed back to the bus.

There are a lot of things we didn’t understand that day. We didn’t know how to speak their language or relate to their circumstances.

But we did know one thing: there is hope for change. This world has potential to be better, and it’s up to us to put those dreams into action. That day put a spark in our hearts that will stay with us forever.

Hallie Kilavos graduated in May 2013 with a degree in Advertising/Public Relations from Evangel University.

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