In what context did the author write the excerpt that describes his experience as a student of Dr. Papaderos at a conference center on the island of Crete?

Robert Fulghum describes his experience as a student of Alexander Papaderos in the context of World War II and his determination to figure out the meaning of life.

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The context in which Robert Fulghum describes his meeting with Alexander Papaderos (i.e., Dr. Papaderos) involves the meaning of life and Nazi atrocities in World War II. Before Fulghum meets Papaderos, he is pondering the “most important question of all: What is the Meaning of Life?”

From this question, Fulghum...

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The context in which Robert Fulghum describes his meeting with Alexander Papaderos (i.e., Dr. Papaderos) involves the meaning of life and Nazi atrocities in World War II. Before Fulghum meets Papaderos, he is pondering the “most important question of all: What is the Meaning of Life?”

From this question, Fulghum pivots to the Greek island Crete. During World War II, Nazi paratroopers stormed Crete and, according to Fulghum, were confronted by “peasants wielding kitchen knives and hay scythes.” To punish the people for fighting back, people from the villages were rounded up and executed. Now, on this very site is an institute dedicated to what Fulghum calls “human understanding and peace.”

The institute is run by Papaderos. Fulghum visits the institute for a “summer session.” Fulghum is clearly captivated by Papaderos. He says that his courage, power, passion, and intelligence “radiated from his person.” It’s like Fulghum isn’t in the presence of an academic but a movie star or deity.

On the last day of a two-week class on Greek culture, Papaderos makes his way to the front of the room and asks if anyone has any questions. Fulghum asks the question that he pondered before he came to Crete. He asks about the meaning of life.

As it so happens, Papaderos answers him. It’s not the most succinct or concise answer. In fact, it’s less of an answer and more of a story. The story involves World War II. It’s about a broken mirror that Papaderos finds as a child. The fragmented mirror is a symbol for what Papaderos is supposed to do with his life. Alas, Papaderos makes it clear that this is the meaning of his life and not everyone’s life. Yet that detail doesn’t seem to bother Fulghum. For Fulghum, he finally got an answer to his question.

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