I’m under the impression that there are two attitudes towards Greeks living abroad: the outward looking one that considers Greeks living elsewhere can and have something to offer to Greece, and the inward looking one that believes that Greece does not need anymore those who left, the “quitters”.
And by “Greeks living abroad” I don’t mean second and third generation immigrants that parade wearing the Greek traditional uniform and go to the “Parthenon” owned by Jim and Toula Papas to eat “lamb kleftiko”. I refer mainly to those who left these last years, either by necessity or choice.
There is no denying that if we have stayed in Greece, if we had not “quitted”, youth unemployment would have been 80% and suicides in much higher levels. That’s why we left. Obviously, we don’t expect gratitude neither we believe we sacrificed ourselves for the sake of a common good. We left because we wanted to; we left because we had no other choice.
We left and we built/are building a new life. Most of us, though, did not burn our bridges. This does not mean we are waiting like crows for the situation to get better to come back and steal your jobs. We still care about Greece, since our families and friends live there. We want to find a way to help out, for their sake.
Whenever I say that, the answer I get is “if you wanna help, why don’t you come back?”. As if someone is locked in a dark room, you are outside and he tells you “Go, I’ll keep searching in the dark”.
Like it or not, living abroad offered us some privileges unavailable (for most) in Greece: living with people of different color, nationality, religion, dealing with functional states, working in big firms going like clockwork, with thousands of employees and customers, intolerance of the breach of self-evident things (e.g. parking in ramps for PWD). This doesn’t mean we are better than those who stayed in Greece or that without our help Greece will never progress. Alas! But do you really think we have nothing to offer?
These are the reasons I joined the organizing team of the 2nd London Hellenic Festival. Because we are four young persons who have accepted the obvious: the existing political context has failed and can bring no real change in Greece. The only thing that can reverse this situation is a convergence of people and team efforts.
None of us is thinking about going back to Greece. We are not waiting for a job in the dysfunctional public sector or a post in some political office. If we wanted to be lackeys, we would have stayed in Greece. On the contrary, we entered a competitive market that doesn’t take into account nationalities and contacts, but qualifications. We all have our jobs and we all have a reason to be here. But we want to help anyway we can. Waiting anything in exchange.
If this is difficult for someone to understand, then there is suspicion towards us and this is something we should discuss. Don’t you think?