Olga is the Founder and Managing Director of Hellas Revival, a company organizing workshops, educational programs, and events based on ancient Greek themes, for visitors to Athens and students from schools and universities. She was born in Greece, lives in Athens, is the mother of a teenager, holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and MBA in Tourism Management, and is a huge fan of ancient Greek history!
How did you become so interested in Greek history?
My mother used to work for the National Archaeological Museum in Athens and before that for the Salamis Museum as a guard. I was able to go with her to excavations in Salamis island and also I used to visit her at the National Museum very often. Although her position did not require any historical knowledge, she learned lots of history by listening to the tour guides who were explaining the sites and their history to the visitors. She would come home and tell me everything with much enthusiasm. I think she passed this enthusiasm to me over the years, and I am grateful for that.
Tell us about Hellas Revival. How did the company begin and what sort of workshops and activities do you organize?
Hellas Revival is a dream which came true. First, it was my love for ancient Greek history. Then, during my MBA studies in Tourism Management, our professors insisted that Events and Activities are the future of tourism. They were absolutely right and imagine that this advice came almost 20 years ago!
Moreover, when I became a mother, I realized that my son was learning much faster (and with less resistance) when we were doing things instead of reading them in the books. I used to perform historical facts for him and he was joining with pleasure. At the same time, he was bored during schools’ walking tours in historical sites and forgetting everything he heard after a day or two – I must admit the same for myself.
Finally, in 2011, I participated in a Philosophy workshop at Plato’s Academy Park. It was more of a lecture, but in the end, there was about 20 minutes for questions and answers. It was the most emotional part of the workshop, it really felt like we had become ancient Greeks philosophizing at the original ground of Plato’s school.
Then it hit me! People need to feel it, to do it, instead of just listen to it! I searched a lot to find events and activities based on ancient Greek history, philosophy, theater etc. There was absolutely none, except for pottery. So, I started organizing such myself, for parents and other associations, but back then it was more like a hobby than an occupation.
In 2019 I decided to create a professional organization, and this is how Hellas Revival began. It was not easy, not at all. Although I found hundreds of people with relevant university degrees and teaching experience, almost none of them could understand the interaction part. History and philosophy were seen as a lesson, or as many lessons, so my idea of making it possible for people with no previous knowledge to DO IT for a just a couple of hours, and have fun at the same time, sound kind of weird.
Eventually I found the right people and now we are able to offer interactive sessions of history, philosophy, theater, games and more. Plus, we do it in the most authentic way, with the original teaching methods, the original materials and of course at the original location.
This year we are organizing:
- Experiential philosophy workshop at Plato’s Academy Park and Digital Museum
- Self-enlightening journey with Aristotle’s guidance at his Lyceum
- Experiential democracy workshop at Pnyx
- Ancient Greek family games
- Ancient Greek pottery hands-on experience
- Ancient Greek theatre workshop
Depending on the program, besides adults, teenagers and kids can also participate. The Democracy Workshop is actually the only one in the entire historical center of Athens which is approved as educational program by the Greek Ministry of Culture. This allows us to bring bigger groups of students from schools and universities. And this is not our only achievement. We have been awarded as Unique Experience in 2021 and as Learning Experience of the Year 2022, for Attica region, by the Travel & Hospitality Awards.
What do you think is the most important thing that people can gain from your events?
Feeling like ancient Greeks! The best way to learn about the ancient Greek culture is to do yourself what these incredible guys were doing. People can combine their visit to significant archaeological sites with a fun and educational experience. We have open discussions, case studies, role plays, team games and much more. And believe me when I say, they learn a lot from it, and, most important, they remember it forever!
Just an example, during our democracy program, participants take roles from the ancient Athens social classes. A case study is given to them and then they have to think, speak and vote according to their role. Their speaking time is counted by a replica of an ancient greek timer (klepsydra), while their votes are carved on real ostracons (pieces of pottery). All of this while standing next to the ancient speaker’s platform, at the very same location where the Citizens’ Assembly (Ekklesia tou Dimoy) took place 2500 years ago!
Do you have any favorite quotes from Greek history or philosophy?
If you want to make someone wealth, do not give him money, take away his desires.Epicurus
How many religions and life coaches are teaching this!?
From history, I always liked the story (we know it from Lysias speech) of the disabled man who tried to convince the juries that he deserved the state’s pension, against the accusation that he could still work despite his disability. Most people do not realize (and schools do not teach this) that most ancient Greek men had some kind of disability, simply because they were participating in battles very often (philosophers included). 2,500 years ago, the state was taking care of them, provided that they could not work. That says something about the culture of the society.
What sort of events have you organized at the Akadimia Platonos park? What’s the significance of this location for you?
As mentioned before, the idea of Hellas Revival was born at this inspired place. Furthermore, it is the place where we organize Plato’s Philosophy Workshop, which was the first program of Hellas Revival. In antiquity, this idyllic grove right outside the city center, was the ideal place for philosophers and their followers, since it was nearby one of the city’s Gymnasiums (place for training). Many philosophers used to gather there, so that they spread their teachings and theories amongst the youngsters. We know that Plato built his school there, although archeologists have not found the exact building ruins yet. Doing Plato’s philosophy at the place where this great mind used to teach, is a blessing, and –in my opinion– a duty.
Unfortunately, the Park needs lots of improvements, and only recently the municipality started organizing philosophy events. I am a member of the neighborhood cultural association ‘’Ηεκαδεμεια’’, which, since 2013, has pushed the state to develop the area according to its significance. Another goal is to create the Academy of Nations, this was the dream of Mr. Aristofron, the person whose money and will brought the archeologists here in the first place, 100 years ago. Even today excavations use his fund.
I was very glad to hear about Plato’s Academy Centre. Your efforts are crucial for the development of the place. We all need to raise awareness and your Center does this internationally. We hope that during the next years, both private and public sector will see the potential of the place and make it more accessible, more famous, and more interactive for the visitors.
I believe that each little step is important. For example, we encourage the participants of Plato’s workshop to put a public review, not only for the workshop, but for the site as well. A good review for the site is promoting the place. But even a bad review is good, it points that the place needs improvement, which is true (hopefully the municipality people will notice it).
What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about Hellas Revival and what you do?
They can visit our Hellas Revival website for information about our mission, our team and of course to view our programs. We are also on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube. Besides promoting our programs, we post interesting information about ancient Greek history. However, the only way for someone to fully understand what we do, is to join one of our programs. We keep our rates reasonable and we have special prices for groups up to 5 people, which are attractive to families (usually with teenage kids) and to youngsters visiting Athens – and this is our goal, to be easily accessible and be able to spread the knowledge around!