Service Learning

Service Learning and Human Rights Education in Greece

ACG’s co-curricular experiential programs on meaningful engagement, action-based learning, human rights and social impact

Within the scope of the College-wide ACG Cares initiative, ACG’s service learning and human rights co-curricular educational programs are at the core of Deree Student Life and combine offerings for enrolled students spanning throughout the semester, as well as tailor-made programs for faculty-led groups and youth teams.

Service learning, giving-back and the spirit of volunteering are at the heart of education at ACG. We offer a wide array of service programs and opportunities: service learning as part of courses, co-curricular Student Life Experience service projects, including the Student Life’s Meaningful Engagement Trip signature program, engagement in student groups such as S.E.R.F., the student emergency response force, or the Better Days for Strays club, volunteering alongside faculty, staff and students from all three ACG divisions on ACG Cares Community Days, and joining Center of Excellence for Sustainability on-campus campaigns and off-campus field trips. ACG’s wide network of ACG alumni, partners, donors, and the expertise of College educators and administrators in service learning and humanitarian education program-building are drawn upon towards designing, developing and implementing tailor-made service learning activities and trips in Athens and the Greek provinces.

ACG’s service learning and human rights education programs comprise real-time experiences of face-to-face interaction with those at the receiving end of volunteer action and community service. Human rights education and the UN Sustainable Development Goals are the theoretical lens through which students explore topics related to the experiential component of service learning programs and understand the relation to self, other and the world. Students are guided to challenge bias and stereotypes and to value and celebrate diversity as emerging leaders fighting for a more inclusive local and global community.

Why engage in service learning and human rights education?


  • Become a global citizen
  • Enrich skillset and activate critical thinking
  • Practice servant leadership
  • Act as a social problem solver
  • Learn to work within diverse groups
  • Encourage creativity
  • Celebrate diversity
  • Transform into a human rights advocate

ACG’s Meaningful Engagement Trips


In the Fall and Spring semester, enrolled students at ACG can apply to join the Meaningful Engagement Program, involving a 3-4 day trip in the Greek provinces. The program combines cultural immersion in local communities outside Athens through service, and offers a range of service learning opportunities. Program costs are covered partly by the Office of Student Affairs and partly by the student government and participants’ contributions. Participants also actively fundraise on campus for the trip. The program is a co-curricular, not for credit, education offering, open to enrolled students who apply for admission into the program and go through an interview process.Focus areas of the experiential component of service learning and human rights education programming at ACG include:

  • Interaction with children and children’s rights
  • Meaningful socio-cultural exchange with refugees
  • Tutoring, mentoring and career counseling to promote literacy and respond to unemployment
  • Empowerment of youth and youth choices
  • Health education and awareness
  • Holistic approaches to wellbeing
  • Emergency response and safety in the field
  • Interaction with elders and reflection on age, aging and citizenship
  • Responding to homelessness and poverty
  • Animal protection and advocacy for those who have no voice
  • Building inclusive student communities
  • Transforming perspectives on disabilities
  • Countering discrimination
  • Acting and reflecting as agents of change
  • Effectively documenting social impact

Meaningful Engagement Trip Application Process


Fall Semester

Applications open in early August and are advertised to the ACG student body and partner institutions

Application deadline: last week of September

Interviews: first week of October

Meaningful Engagement Trip: between late October and mid-November, depending on the midterm period

Spring Semester

Applications open in late November are advertised to the student body and partner institutions

Application deadline: first week of February

Interviews: second week of February

Meaningful Engagement Trip: between mid-March and early April, depending on the midterm period

Joining the Meaningful Engagement Trip is an opportunity:

  • To become purposeful, conscious, aware and trained field-workers and volunteers
  • To explore Greece beyond Athens and interact with locals within communities in the Greek provinces
  • To set the grounds for engagement with active citizens, local leadership, and the vulnerable groups and individuals in a given society
  • To take back lessons learned and become servant leaders in your home communities

Who is eligible to participate in the Meaningful Engagement Trips?

  • Students enrolled in courses at ACG and selected through the application process.
  • Students participating in faculty-led programs hosted on the ACG campus.
  • Students with no disciplinary record for grave Student Conduct Code violations at ACG or, if study abroad, their home institution.
  • Specific requirements may apply in view of special circumstances or limitations set by organizations we are partnering with on site in the execution of service learning programs.

Check out descriptions, testimonials and albums of our Meaningful Engagement Trips to destinations in the Greek provinces!

Spring 2018: Meaningful Engagement Trip to Messenia, Peloponnese


On Thursday, March 8, 2018, a group of 28 Deree students, representing 18 different nationalities and all student populations on campus: local, study abroad, parallel studies and Education Unites, along with 5 ACG Student Life educators and administrators departed Deree – The American College of Greece on the Meaningful Engagement Trip: a four-day service and volunteering experience in Kalamata, Messenia, designed by the Office of Student Affairs in collaboration with the Captain Vassilis and Carmen Konstantakopoulos Foundation.During the first day of their trip to Messenia, the MET visited the SOS Children’s Villages Greece Center for Vocational and Family Support in Kalamata where they engaged in educational and recreational activities including a student-led leadership workshop with high-school students, an interview skills workshop with parents, and Pilates, baking and crafting sessions with elementary school children.

The second day, all 33 members of the MET experienced a day in the life of the ΚΕΘΕΑ Κύτταρο community, outside Kalamata; ΚΕΘΕΑ(KETHEA) is the largest rehabilitation and social reintegration network for persons fighting addiction in Greece. Deree students joined the residents in cooking, cleaning, gardening, farming, archiving, carving of wooden signs, and soap-making and participated in a basketball game. The activities were followed by a shared lunch, a most life-changing discussion/reflection session, and a community shout-out. Following their visit to ΚΕΘΕΑ, MET members met with Giorgos Lazaridis, founder of the Ancient Messene Wheelchair Tennis Tournament and the DiaforoZo movement at the Kalamata Central Public Library and learned about accessibility in the city of Kalamata and active citizenship.

Bright and early on the third day the entire team set out for the Yialova Wetlands where they were guided by Giorgos Maneas, Station Manager at Navarino Environmental Observatory [NEO], to engage in bird-watching, water-sampling and path-clearing activities. Following a well-earned community picnic at Yialova, the group walked the paths that had just been cleared, placing wooden signs with the names of the flora they found along the way, all made by Deree students and ΚΕΘΕΑ community members in preparation for the Yialova activities. The day wrapped up at NEO, which hosted the group in their facilities at Costa Navarino.

Deree-ACG donated the wooden signs and books that were collected on campus in collaboration with the Center of Excellence for Sustainability and its Reuse campaign to support NEO’s library.

On March 11, the fourth and final day of the MET to Kalamata, MET members visited Hydrofarmand learned about new, environmentally friendly techniques of farming with minimal waste and harm to nature, and agricultural entrepreneurship in Greece, before they set off on their return to ACG.

Throughout the trip, the ACG Health & Wellness Center and the ACG Wellness Coach organized a series of healthy nutrition, meditation and mindfulness workshops and activities with the purpose of connecting with nature, themselves and each other and enriching the meaningful experiences of interaction with the local communities.

What made this trip particularly special this year was that 1/3 of the volunteers selected to be part of the service-learning mission to Kalamata, Messenia, were Education Unites: From Camp to Campus participants. Instead of finding themselves at the receiving end of service, as in the previous METs in Trikala and Samos, displaced students studying for two semesters at ACG on U.S. State Department scholarships through the Education Unites program, served alongside local and US study abroad students, demonstrating leadership and passion for effectuating positive change and giving back to the communities we interacted with.

Contact Us

For ACG Students:

Office of Student Affairs
Tel.: +30 210 6009800 ext. 1446
E-mail: [email protected]

For prospective Study Abroad/International Students:

Mara Nisdeo
Dean of North American Enrollment & Study Abroad
Tel.: 1-617-935-5148
E-mail: [email protected]

For Partner Institutions, Faculty-led and Custom Programs:

Mara Nisdeo
Dean of North American Enrollment & Study Abroad
Tel.: 1-617-935-5148
E-mail: [email protected]

For prospective Service Learning Partners in Greece:

Matilda Chatzipanagiotou, LL.M., Ph.D.
Consultant | Service Learning, Human Rights, Cultural Immersion, Student Life
Offices of Enrollment & Administration and Human Resources & Campus Services
E-mail: [email protected]

Tailor-made Service Learning Experiences in Athens and beyond


ACG educators work closely with faculty-led groups and youth teams to develop tailor-made Service Learning experiences

  • Service learning on and off campus, in Athens and the Greek provinces
  • Collaboration with ACG Centers (Center of Excellence for Sustainability), Student Clubs (Better Days for Strays), external partners and diverse stakeholders
  • Examples: Social cooking, survival kits preparation for the homeless, animal shelter visits, emergency response awareness-raising
  • Experience tailored to the specifics of special/faculty-led program’s educational/learning objectives and logistics, as well as group size
  • Possible to tailor service learning experiences to student interests, talents and strengths
  • Participating students are required to submit a quick survey including essay questions

Comprehensive fee includes:

Program development

  • Coordination of communication and activity design with partners and local stakeholders
  • Space booking
  • Administrative work (required permits; documentation for volunteers; disclaimers; form processing for participants)
  • Team building and training tailored to activities and involving subject matter experts (taking place on ACG campus premises, unless on-site presence is necessary)
  • Production of inventory and list of supplies and equipment required for the service equipment
  • Cost of supplies and equipment
  • Group reflection sessions with expert in volunteer engagement and human rights education programs
  • Optional fee for social media coverage and photographic documentation of activities by experienced documentary photographer and videographer
  • Optional fee for creation of individual feedback forms for each volunteer
  • Optional additional fee for report of program impact and highlights based on survey generated to cover all program components, including quantitative and qualitative evaluation of the program, testimonials, survey results etc.

Contact Us

For Partner Institutions, Faculty-led and Custom Programs:

Mara Nisdeo
Dean of North American Enrollment & Study Abroad
Tel.: 1-617-935-5148
E-mail: [email protected]

For Student Groups/Youth Teams:

Office of Student Affairs
Tel.: +30 210 6009800 ext. 1446
E-mail: [email protected]

Service Learning