European Alumnae Symposium
Changing Minds and Lives at the 2019 Mount Holyoke European Alumnae Symposium
The 15th Mount Holyoke European Alumnae Symposium welcomed alums and students from the classes of 1948 to 2021 and 21 countries along with MHC faculty and staff to the city of Athens, Greece, from October 4–6, 2019.
The gathering featured a rich and detailed program of learning and engagement, and kicked off on Friday with a discussion moderated by Joann Ryding Beltes ’76 between MHC President Sonya Stephens and Alumnae Association President Maria Mossaides ’73. Dinner followed — with a magnificent view of the Acropolis and the temple of Zeus — and the sounds of the Alma Mater carried the evening to a close.
Saturday morning brought the group to Fougaro, a historic industrial space located in the Peloponnese, which has been transformed into a vibrant cultural center by Florica Kyriacopoulos ’76.
Attendee Anne Gabrielle Boucher ’13 sets the scene: “Fougaro is truly an oasis for all the senses: [the] smell of rosemary, delicious food, children playing and water fountains bubbling, beautiful art and aesthetic architecture, conversations and heart-to-hearts connecting over this beautiful space.”
The day at Fougaro included several panels, starting with a dynamic discussion about migration, ideological extremism, climate change and political polarization, “Is The World Changing?” Moderated by Erica Lutes ‘02 and featuring Kavita Khory ’84, Ruth Lawson Professor of Politics and newly appointed Carol Hoffmann Collins Director of the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives, the discussion set the global political stage for the symposium theme, Changing Minds and Lives.”
A panel about the migrant crisis in Greece and in Turkey included:
- Dia Anagnostou ’91, associate professor of politics at Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences and senior research fellow at ELIAMEP, who provided an overview of the trends of refugee and migration flows in the Mediterranean.
- Anya Jette Christiansen ’01, who shared her personal experience of having been on the Greek islands for months and offered staged solutions, from the practical level to the global level, of addressing the root causes.
“No government or NGO would ever be prepared for the amount of people (that arrived in Turkey and Greece from Syria, and that is a fact we have to live with.”Zeynep Kurmuş Hürbaş ’96, head of communications, The Koç School & Civic Initiative
Ioli Christopoulou ’01, co-founder and policy director of The Green Tank and one of the organizers of the event, moderated a panel on climate change and the environmental degradation that affects us all — a reminder that communities, countries and the environment are interconnected on many levels.
Panelists included Professor Emeritus Jens Christiansen, who spoke about the links between environmental degradation and our current economic system, as well as the need for a Global Green Marshall Plan.
Saturday evening concluded with a wine tasting at the Semeli Estate during the sunset — and Greek dancing!
“Mount Holyoke taught me how to be on my own, responsible for myself.”Claude de Renty du Granrut MHGS’48
On Sunday, three alums shared their personal stories about wisdom, vulnerabilities and strengths in the face of change. And with the singing of “Bread and Roses,” the Symposium drew to a close.
—Contributors include Anne Gabrielle Boucher ’13, Ioli Christopoulou ’01, Silvia Maulini ’80, and Jessica Riel