I was privileged to join 17 undergraduate brothers on the Tragos Quest to Greece earlier this June. While the journey only lasted 10 days, I feel the lessons I learned and the friends I made will last a lifetime.
The Quest started in Chicago where all of the undergraduates and the 5 mentors started to bond with one another. We laid ground rules for our travels, making sure that none of us were “Ugly Americans” at the historical sites, but also to know what we expected out of one another as brothers. The next day, we left the comfort of the continental U.S. and embarked on a flight across the Atlantic Ocean to the ancient world.
All of our days began and ended with discussions – most of which required a level of vulnerability that is uncomfortable with people you had just met. Even though these conversations were with unfamiliar faces, they are and will always be my brothers. There I was, thousands of miles from my chapter, still with brothers by my side. In between all of those discussions were visits to different sites and cities in the southern region of Greece.
There are far too many places and memories to mention from the week and a half, but one tour sticks out from the rest. My favorite historical site from the Quest resides in the ruins of Delphi. The ruins of the Temple of Apollo remain in ancient Delphi which featured the famous maxim “know thyself”. Socrates is credited with saying: “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom”, and it is an inexplicable feeling to be in front of the ancient ruins where the Oracle of Delphi enlightened others. The Oracle of Delphi gave prominent historical figures insight to their lives and what their futures hold. Today, it is just as important to understand our weaknesses and our strengths so we are able to push ourselves to be a better individual through continuous growth.
There is a Greek word for this – “eudemonia”. It describes the ultimate goal of life, where one is constantly developing in a virtuous way which can give a sense of purpose and meaning to life, or perhaps a certain zest and flavor. While I expected the Tragos Quest to Greece to be enlightening, I never expected it to have such a profound impact on the way I know myself. I feel like I am coming back to Montana this fall with the right toolkit to succeed, having learned the philosophies and ways of life from the ancient and modern Greeks. I am recognizing the limitations of the man I am now, and with eudaimonia in mind, I know that there are no limits to the man I can become.