Saturday, September 22, 2007

Greece - One Nation, Many Homes

Where do you come from? A frequent question when meeting new people. I can remember back in school, when people would get really confused with my surname, often not being able to pronounce it, let alone spell it. So a natural part of growing up would be answering the question - where do you come from? Naturally, I would answer with pride, Greece.

To me Greece was a dream. A land full of history, culture, mythology. It was my father's home, and his pride became our pride, until the day I made it my home, too. Living in an area which welcomes tourists from all parts of the world each year, I now find myself answering other, equally common questions. What made you decide to live here? How did you adjust? These questions actually sometimes make me wonder myself. I mean I came here at the age of 24. the feeling of being a foreigner in your own country is certainly true to those of us who have been brought up "sto exoteriko" (abroad). This also made me think about others in the same situation. People like me whose parents left the country to make their dreams come true, to make a new start, to follow their dreams. This led me to look into the amount of Greeks who live abroad.

About 7 million Greeks live in other countries. Greece has a population of 11 million. That means that there is a whole other Greece out there!! A Greece made up of all kinds of people, businessmen, scientists, doctors, teachers, plumbers, electricians, students, children. Another country almost equal in number to the homeland has decided to not return here. The disappointment I feel is tragic. I look at my own family. It took my father 32 years to come home. My mother only sees her home on holidays.

But just imagine!!! Imagine a Greece of almost 20 million people. Imagine a Greece made up of businessmen, scientists, doctors, teachers etc, doing what they do best here. Imagine deserted villages coming alive again. Imagine families reunited again. Imagine all those people returning, bringing with them their experiences, their ideas, their education. Now that's a Greece I dream of. Don't get me wrong. The Greece I live in has its problems, but it is still my home and the place I always wanted to be part of. Today, though, I am just dreaming about the Greece that should be. We are a nation whose roots are deeply embedded in the ancient world. We are a nation whose language and ideas where once perceived to be above all others. We are a nation who, I believe, answers with pride the question "Where are you from?"

I think of my friends. The speech therapist who left one of the biggest universities in Britain to come home, but sadly returned because there were no jobs when she got here. The teacher who lives in Germany and gets twice the salary she would here. The mother, who wants her children to be educated in Belgium because it's "better". The surgeon, who wanted to work near his home, but there were no hospitals. The chef, who gets paid what he wants. The student, who was head hunted in her first year as an international student by a multinational company. These are only some of my friends. I won't even mention my family. Most of my cousins left at the same time as I decided to come.

Imagine all those people coming home.

So today, I dedicate this post to you all. Greeks, Ellines, all around the world. We miss you, and a lot of the time we need you, but more than that we understand you. Be well and proud of where you are from.


Tasos Zarkadis said...

i am so moved... what a post really! It just made me more... proud to be Greek. Yes our country gave us a great advantage! To be part of its great and famous history, but it is in our hands, to bring these people back home... To offer them what they required to leave abroad and come back to the plase that gifted them a reason to be so different from the others... to be greek! Thank u 4 writing such a fantastic post! Stay proud 2 be a part of the world's own history! tasos from athens and zakynthos. Member of the official fan club West London's Chelsea F.C. in Greece

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