Borderland

Reporting from the frontlines of history in Greece

About this project

Welcome to Borderland, a project of students in Princeton University’s first border-crossing global journalism seminar, “Reporting on the Frontlines in Greece.” In June and July 2016,  students traveled to Athens and the island of Lesbos, notebooks and cameras in hand, to serve as eyewitnesses at a pivotal moment in world affairs. Their challenging assignment: Produce

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The Classroom Cure

Greece’s child refugees are at risk of becoming a ‘lost generation.’ Is education the answer? By Hayley Roth and Iris Samuels  ATHENS, Greece –– Two young boys with skinny frames, buzzed hair and bright t-shirts jostled beneath the hot Greek sun. But as humanitarian workers approached, it became clear the children weren’t playing. One, originally

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History Repeats

By Iris Samuels The Benaki Museum in Athens is an unlikely place to find teenagers on a hot summer afternoon. Yet on a recent Saturday, two 16-year-old boys were roaming amid ancient statues and Ottoman-era jugs, arms crossed awkwardly over gangly bodies. They were fascinated. In their t-shirts and sneakers, they looked like nothing so much

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Behind the wire

By Amanda Blanco For those trapped inside of the place known as Moria, razor wire doubles as clothesline. Jeans and t-shirts drape over barbed spindles, and makeshift tents crafted from blankets use the fence as support. Located on the Greek island of Lesbos, Moria was established in late September 2013 as a registration site for refugees who

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Omonia After Dark

By Amanda Blanco ATHENS, Greece — The first rule of survival in the red light district of Omonia is to think fast and act even faster. Built around one of the oldest town squares in Athens, Omonia used to be a center of commercial activity. But Greece’s ongoing financial crisis and the recent refugee crisis

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Lesbos: The Waiting Game

By Hayley Roth Take a walk down the main street of Mytilene, the capital of the Greek island of Lesbos, and you’ll see freshly-scrubbed storefronts, colorful awnings and potted plants. Hotels, restaurants and travel agencies face the placid waters of the Aegean. Docked boats scrape against the sidewalks. Shopkeepers lounge in doorways, squinting at the

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Paradise lost

By Harrison Blackman Four months have passed since the European Union outlawed undocumented migration from Turkey, effectively trapping new arrivals from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan in camps in Greece. As of July, United Nations statistics show that the agreement has cut arrivals by sea from the peak of 210,000 people a month in October 2015 to a

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Island hospitality, refugee style

By Alexandra Markovich The office of the mayor of Mytilene, the capital of Lesbos island, overlooks the Aegean Sea. Huge windows open onto the city’s port, where discarded boats that once carried refugees to the island are still docked. Less than 10 miles separate the island from Turkey’s coast. Marios Andriotis-Konstantios, the senior advisor to the

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The Sympathy of Greece

By Hayley Roth It’s hot. A little boy runs across the sizzling asphalt to avoid burning his bare feet. He takes a bottle of water and pours it over his head and shoulders, shrieking with laughter. Another boy, even younger, toddles forward. He can barely support himself on unsteady legs. His shirt reads “DUSSELDORF: meine

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Art amid refuge

By Iris Samuels | 7/11/16 Art scene: A term evoking the gallery-lined streets of lower Manhattan, or the resplendent museums of Paris. Then there is Ritsona, a refugee camp an hour north of Athens. Worlds apart, its scene is vibrant, nonetheless. Home to 600 migrants, mostly from Syria and Iraq, Ritsona at first seems a bustling

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Lost in Piraeus

By Iris Samuels At the foot of Athens’ monumental Acropolis, many languages can be heard as foreigners take in the sights. The steps leading to the ancient Parthenon are worn slick from the generations of tourists who have come to marvel at one of the world’s most impressive landmarks. It is easy to forget that,

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Athens at First, Second and Third Glance

By Hayley Roth It has been seven days in Athens, and the experience is somewhat like eating an exotic fruit for the first time. Its surface beauty is striking but bite into it to discover the real content. Our task, as six student journalists from Princeton, New Jersey, is to get to the core of

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The Muslim Matriarch

By Alexandra Markovich Just after the sun sets, Anna Stamou covers her dining room table with platefuls of food to break the Ramadan fast. She pulls a stew of Egyptian sausages from the oven and sets it on the table, followed by a bowl of Egyptian salad. Then, spanakopita, a Greek spinach pie, unexpectedly becomes

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First Impressions: Port of Piraeus

  By Amanda Blanco Section E2 of the industrial Port of Piraeus was never meant to be called home. But since closure of Greece’s borders, that is exactly what it has become for roughly 1,000 refugees.  Their tents cluster under a highway overpass, squeezing together to escape the blistering sun. “The image speaks for itself,” says

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St. Paul’s Day at the Areopagus

By Harrison Blackman and Amanda Blanco The Book of Acts describes how the Apostle Paul traveled to Athens in the first century A.D. and visited town leaders on a large outcropping  below the Acropolis, at a spot known as Areopagus Hill. Acts 17:23 quotes Paul as saying; “For as I walked around and looked carefully at

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The heat

By Harrison Blackman From June 15 to June 19, the daily high temperature for Athens jumped from 82 degrees to 102 Fahrenheit. From June 19 forward, the heat has been on. Taverna operators hustle to rope overheated tourists into their air-conditioned restaurants. The city’s ubiquitous street kiosks — the periptera — are stocked with bottles of

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Getting to know Greek literature: A look inside Aiora Press

By Harrison Blackman While ancient Greek literature has been celebrated for millennia, outside of Greece few are aware that substantial fiction has come out of the Hellenic Republic in the last 150 years. Many Greek publishing houses publish only in Greek, or translate international bestsellers into the local language, compounding the problem.  As result, Greek literature has never gotten the international

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Yoga, therapy and a welcoming network

By Amanda Blanco Tucked away on a side street off Victoria Square in Athens is a house whose door is always open. It is the home of Melissa Network, an organization for the empowerment of migrant women and children. A marble staircase, lined with children’s artwork, leads visitors to an open landing. Whitewashed arches reveal a reception

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Ai Weiwei comes to Lesbos

By James Haynes ATHENS — Ai Weiwei has made bringing attention to crises a lifelong effort. As the Chinese artist once told an interviewer, “If my art has nothing to do with people’s pain and sorrow, what is ‘art’ for?” Most recently, he has been pointing attention toward Greece. He first visited Athens and the

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