SOCIETY

Philanthropist explains what makes AFS important

Greek philanthropist Aliki Perroti?s 1995 gift to the American Farm School in Thessaloniki financed the founding and operation of the Dimitris Perrotis College of Agricultural Studies. It was the largest donation ever given to any private institution of higher learning in Greece.

While the college is a new branch, the school?s history dates back to 1904, when Dr John Henry House and his wife founded the American Farm School on 50 acres of land outside Thessaloniki. The first students were orphaned boys. Dedicated to ?educating the whole individual: the head, the hands, the heart,? Dr House?s school involved practical training in farming and industrial skills.

Today, Perroti?s latest donation for the BSc students at the school has led to an environmentally advanced campus residence that stays true to the institution?s ethos: educating students in the field of sustainable developmenty. Hailing from over a dozen countries, the college students enroll in classes on subjects such as agritourism, urban landscape and xeriscape technology. Inaugurated on October 7, the Aliki Perroti Student Residence exhibits ?cutting-edge technology and environmental problem solving,? the school says.

Perroti remembers when she realized education and good health were basic human needs that needed support. ?Going to and from school as a child in Athens, I saw on the streets the bodies of those who had died of starvation. This touched a nerve and made me feel that I had to share my good fortune with those less fortunate than I. When I grew up, I had the opportunity and means to do this on a large scale,? she says.

Perroti is also the benefactress of the Constantopouleio Hospital in Athens, and endows the Aliki Perroti Professorship at the Johns Hopkins Center for Innovative Medicine in Maryland.

Having lived between Greece and the US for much of her life, Perroti says the college ?realizes that in this ever-shrinking world, we must strengthen our ties and work closely together.?

You?ve said that AFS possesses the qualities of ?education, practical skills, entrepreneurship and commitment to community.? What exactly makes it unique?