Live in a Greek Village, Climb Mt. Olympus: American Farm School’s Unique “Greek Summer” Program for High School Students


One of the oldest and most successful summer study programs for high school students, “Greek Summer” runs from the end of June to the end of July. Hosted since 1970 by the American Farm School, the program welcomes high school students from throughout North America and the world aged 15-18 for an unforgettable experience in the Greek countryside, that culminates with a climb to the top of Mt. Olympus.

The village homestay is Greek Summer’s core experience. Participants live with families in a rural village & complete a community service project. The “Big Trip” introduces students to cultural & historic sites throughout Greece. Eco-adventures in breath-taking settings include hiking Mt. Olympus, boating the Sporades islands, swimming in pristine beaches.

Activities on the host campus of the American Farm School introduce students to sustainable food systems and the importance of food and agriculture to the culture and economy of the region. Participation in hands-on activities with local experts include cheese-making, olive oil production, honey-harvesting, Greek-cooking and more.

Preparation for village life includes learning about the effect of the economic crisis on local families and introductions to the Greek language, folk dancing, and other intercultural skills that enhance participants’ ability to form bonds with new families and village friends.

For more information about the American Farm School’s Greek Summer program, click here.

The “Greek Summer” program, with almost 2,000 alumni from throughout the world, is operated by the American Farm School, a 100+ year old institution founded by an American missionary named John Henry House and his wife Susan, who set out for a journey to change the world. They ended up in rural Thessaloniki and today, 110 years later, their impact has been massive.

Born in rural Ohio and the son of an abolitionist whose home was an important stop on the “Underground Railway” that supported the escape of American slaves en route to freedom in Canada, young John Henry was impacted by the power of humanity from a young age.

Following a long journey, meticulously described in “A life for the Balkans: the story of John Henry House of the American farm school” the couple arrived in Greece— then not even Greece but a part of the Ottoman Empire, and established the American Farm School in 1904.

It was a barren, rough land— but nothing deterred the couple, who had already spent the previous 30 years doing missionary work in the Balkans.

Get Brenda Marder’s book “Stewards of the Land”, a fascinating book about the century-old history of the American Farm School.

Today their legacy is the American Farm School, an independent, non-profit educational institution in Thessaloniki that has offered thousands of students unique opportunities— including and well beyond House’s original mission to “educate the whole individual: the head, the hands, the heart.”

The Secondary School offers girls and boys from rural regions of Greece an accredited general high school education with practical focus on agricultural subjects. The students live in campus dormitories and follow an extracurricular program that reinforces strong traditions in Greek culture.

Perrotis College founded in 1996 through a major gift of benefactor Aliki Perroti in memory of her husband, develops leaders for the global agriculture and food industry. The English-language curriculum leads to the awarding of the BSc degree, which is validated by the Cardiff Metropolitan University (UWIC).

The Primary Education program focuses on environmental education through experiential learning. The curriculum gives young learners everyday contact with the natural world and with farming, and encourages hands-on experimentation and discovery. The department of Adult Education & Research offers short courses, seminars, workshops and conferences on sustainable rural development.

The Greek Summer program is an intercultural exchange program for U.S. and international teenagers. The program is oriented toward community service, as students live with host families in a small Greek village and undertake a project to meet the village’s evolving needs.

Moments from past Greek Summer sessions: