While I’ve been here in Paros, I have had the chance to do incredible things that I never thought I would. However, I believe one of the most important things that I have developed here are the relationships that I have with my peers, both old and new. When I first came on this trip, I was worried that I would have trouble communicating with other people on the trip, but never once have I felt like this was the case. Because of all the time that we spend working (and playing) together, we have strengthened our friendships to last a lifetime. I feel like this doesn’t just apply to just the people who came over from the U.S. either.
During our time here, I have learned a lot about the locals that live on Paros. Many of them know each other due to the size of the island, and as far as I can tell, they are all friendly to each other and others. Many of them will invite strangers with open arms to Paros and have an incredible sense of hospitality. None more-so however, than my friend Markos. I met Markos while eating at a restaurant here in Parikia. Due to his vast knowledge of almost everyone who lives there, and things to do and see around his island, we went to him whenever we needed information about something. Eventually, this led into him being a prime source of people to interview for our personal projects. Through him, we met a shoemaker who makes custom shoes for people from scratch, as well as for his family. This was an incredible experience for many of the people in our group. For my personal interview, I went with Markos down to the port, and found a fisherman friend of his who was willing to participate. These incredible people with such amazing lives and pastimes would have stayed a mystery to us if not for Markos.
Because he was so helpful to us, I offered to help him open his store a few times, since he is getting older and it is becoming more difficult for him to do so. After doing this a few times, he asked for help packing some of his moving boxes at his house. I gladly offered to help him. After helping him pack his boxes, he told me something that has stuck with me. He told me that he doesn’t really need the help from us, but he really enjoys the company. He lives by himself and gets lonely sometimes. I realized that we managed to make a larger impact on him and his life than we thought we had. Now he is an incredibly close friend, who considers our group to be like his family. I take pride in hearing that from him and am glad that we are making an impact on him, as well as other people around the island.
We have met many incredible people here, and Markos is only one of them. Due to spending time with the locals on this trip, I think I’ve learned more about what the Greek community is like than could ever be written in a book. The culture that the Parians have here is incredible, and what’s even more incredible is the fact that they are so willing to share it with us.
Written by Jake McCarty