Our time in Venice:

Venice is one of the most incredible places that I’ve ever been and was definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip. We spent our days there wandering around the city—exploring museums and looking for places to draw. Our hotel that we stayed at was in The Lido, which is the most southern island of Venice, and we took a waterbus to the main island each day. On our first full day, we took a tour of St. Mark’s Basilica with our guide, Giovanna; the colors inside were amazing and the entire upper story is covered in a golden mosaic of Bible stories. Another highlight of this city was going to the opera, which was all in Italian and hard to follow, but it was an awesome experience. We also went on a photo scavenger hunt where we had to find specific places in the city—really testing out our navigational skills/our ability to get lost. I have to say though, my absolute favorite part of the time in this city were the chilly days spent wandering around with friends drawing in the little alleyways and canals. Venice has a very specific and warm feeling that is incredibly hard to describe, but is filled with so much joy and happiness. This city is absolutely amazing.


Working in the museums of Italy

Over the past few days the group has spent time drawing in a few of the most notable art museums of Italy including the Uffizi Gallery and La Galleria dell’Accademia. The museums have provided a new challenge to the group with the large change in subject matter to work with from ancient Greek and Roman ruins found in southern Italy and Greece to the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance. We were surprised to find that we could spend considerable time in front of and around the statue of David in the La Galleria dell’Accademia as we got the museum early the crowds were light. And spending 5-6 hours in the Uffizi was barely enough time to see all works on its two levels.


Stopping by Pisa

The abroaders have spent the past two weeks visiting museums and sketching in Italy! Our most recent venture was to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We all climbed the worn marble stairs to the top of the tower and walked around the angled platform, taking pictures all the while. After, we found a spot in the grass to relax and sketch before returning to Florence by train.

It seems incredible, but we return to the states in three days. Our last stop is in Rome for a quick visit to the Colosseum and the Vatican.


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Open Arms at the Salvation Army

With so much information flooding news sites about the Syrian Refugee Crisis and the hardships these refugees and migrants are facing, it’s often hard to have a positive outlook when praying for the world. We knew before we even left for Greece that we would want to partake and do something to make a difference while we were in country – whether it was visiting a refugee camp, helping with clothes, food, or supplies, or raising money.

dsc_4716We asked our guide in Athens, and she connected us with the Salvation Army in Victoria’s Square, which is a hotspot for refugees coming into Greece. We visited the first day we were in Athens and spent some time in the stock room helping separate diapers, fold and consolidate clothes, and learned more about what the Salvation Army was doing to help in whatever way they can. It was a humbling moment for all of us as we talked with the workers and the volunteers, some of which were refugees there to make a difference themselves, and we learned a lot more about what it means to make it to Greece as a refugee or migrant and try to build a new life with so little.

dsc_4711There were hardly any people at the Salvation Army when we first went, and so when we came back on Friday to draw and play with the kids, we were at first shocked to see the large population of people waiting to get into the building to get their food, diapers, and clothes. There were so many people there with only one intention and that was to get what they needed and leave. Some of us were caught off guard with the magnitude of the situation. We were told we were going to play and draw with the kids, and here we were struggling to make our way through a crowd to even get into the building.

dsc_4731After talking with the man in charge, we decided that within the hour we would return when the crowd had died down and they would be holding more of a party for the kids while they supplied parents with extra supplies for small children and families. When we returned, it was a much different feeling as we walked in. There was music going and one of the volunteers, a refugee himself, as dressed as a clown. They’d put up balloons and created a small place area for the kids. Parents were going down into the storeroom to get supplies and the kids were being cared for with face painting, candies, and us.
dsc_4722These kids were so small, and yet they had seen more in their life than we ever will. I was holding a small girl in my lap as she hesitated between attempting to draw and just watching me. At one point, she seemed to be struggling with the crayon so I held her hand and draw with her for
a little bit. When I went to let go and go back to my own drawing and let her do her own thing, she grabbed my hand again and placed her hand in mine before putting the crayon in her hand once again. It wasn’t so much about the drawing for these kids, though that was fun, but it was more about the comfort of having a warm and happy and safe person shielding them as they did something carefree.

dsc_4745No matter what the event was – playing ukulele, drawing, or playing with the toys that had been donated – these small children took pride and extreme interest in whatever they were doing. For me personally, it was a great reminder just how much of an impact the little moments can mean. Praying for the world is such a daunting task sometimes. How do we know our prayers will make a difference? Where do we start when it comes to praying for the entire world?

But it takes those moments where all you need to do is sit and hold a small girl’s hand to make a difference and know that your prayers for the world are being received. We were very grateful to have this opportunity even though we only spent a little bit of time in there. We all had different experiences that meant something different to us, and in the grand scheme of things this was a blip on the radar. But the impact was still made and felt, both for those we visited and us as well.

Studio Time in Samos

Today the group had a busy day of working on all of the pieces that we’ve been assigned! Each day we get assigned a new piece to work on, which means that projects tend to add up quickly. We started painting after breakfast and had a “working lunch” where we had a quick gyro to eat and then continued painting through the afternoon. After a full day of art we split off in groups to get dinner and then met back up for our Wednesday church service. It was a full day for the Greecers!


Drawing at the Pythagorio Archeological Musuem

On October 2nd we spent a couple hours of the morning at one of the most beautiful and well designed museums in Greece—The Archeological Museum of Pythagorio. This is not a large museum and from the number of visitors on the day we were there this is a museum that is not visited by enough people. The displays are extremely well thought out. The materials used to display the artifacts are stainless steel, thick blocks of marble, thick clear plexiglass, and local materials. This is a museum not to miss.

Temples on the highway


Greece is a country where we get surprised every single time. There is so much going on and a lot to understand, learn, and enjoy. The culture of this country has been changed a lot throughout the years, but something that I never expected to see in Greece are these little temples on the side of the road.

I was curious to know why and where that come from, so one day when I went to a museum asked a woman who works there what they were. She told me that they have those mini sanctuaries on the side of the roads in memory of the people that died in car accidents and passed away. They are from the orthodox church with icons, candles, flowers and different religious objects inside of them. I thought that it was very interesting, because comparing the USA and Brazil, we only have crosses, some vases, or flowers in memory of the dead. The Greeks are very particular about this, because they put in all of hard work to make it perfect in respect and in memory of their family, friends, and loved ones. It’s a way to make that place a memory of what has happened before and pray for their souls to rest in peace.

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— Logan Araujo

Let nothing hold you back

dsc_0107If there is one thing that I’ve learned after traveling outside of the U.S., it’s that you should always stay open to new experiences. It can sometimes seem impossible to ignore that feeling of fear or uncertainty that everyone gets when they are faced with the opportunity of trying something new, but trust me when I tell you that it’s almost always worth it. This abroad was a lot of people’s first experience overseas and some were worried that they may not be comfortable trying new things, but those feelings quickly went away as soon as we landed in Athens.  The beautiful landscape filled with towering mountains and glistening beaches made it hard not to instantly fall in love with Greece (well that plus the fact that the food here is absolutely AMAZING). We’ve gone hiking, spelunking, walking across active volcanoes; we’ve ridden on ferries, pirate boats, sea jets, donkeys and mules, swimming in the ocean (multiple times), and visited more archaeological sites and museums than I care to name and were not even half way done. All that just to say that even though new experiences can seem daunting, you should never let fear hold you back from once in a lifetime opportunities like this one. nothing

Omari McIntosh