Greece in our minds!

Last “European Youth Voice Seminar” took place in Athens, the capital of Greece. One of the main aims of this seminar was – for the participants from 10 countries (Poland, Latvia, Germany, Estonia, Slovakia, Romania, Czech Republic, France, Bulgaria and Spain) – to become more familiar with the situation in Greece and Europe in general during the Crisis, as well as, help us to understand some of the main principles of the Greek society and mentality which can only be explained by having a short look through the events of the Greek history.

During this seminar I was thinking what I would write about in my article. So, after the discussions between us and the intercultural workshop, I decided to write something about the opinion of the participants after these activities. So, I asked all participants from Europe to tell me the first three words which come to their minds when they listen to the word “Greece”. After my questions, I put the answers into 5 groups, as you can see at the following chart:

Economy

Lifestyle

Tradition

History

Tourist destination

50%

60%

40%

20%

50%

As we can notice, the majority of the answers refer to the lifestyle of the Greeks. We have to mention here that 56% of them are positive (e.g. answers like “vivid”, “friendly” etc.) and the 44% of the lifestyle answers are negative (such as “careless” or “lazy”). Economy and tourist destination group answers come after. I would say economy issues are a “new trend” because before the crisis a few people knew about the real situation of the Greek economy (the Greeks and the foreigners). However, after the Crisis, Greece is recognized as a country which can’t handle its finances properly, a country where austerity measures were imposed.

As a result, the popularity of Greece about financial crisis issues has the same percentage with the tourist destination factor, which is Greece’s primary industry. Here, we have to mention that for the economy sector we had only one positive answer (“euro”). On the other hand the answers about the tourist destination were all positive.
Furthermore, we have 40% of the participants who referred to the Greek tradition and only the 20% of the answers were about the Greek history. Contrary to above, here in Greece we think that everyone is aware about the History of Greece, being the cradle of civilization for Western Europe.

In addition, usually the Greek Media indicate that the countries of North Europe have a negative opinion about our country, and that they always blame us about everything. Only the countries of the South which have the same problems with us have a more friendly attitude towards us. At the same time, they try to represent the same bad image about Northern countries (that they want the sell-out of Greece). These bad stereotypes of both sides only negative impact can have to the citizens of Europe and create obstacles in the “European Union Dream”.

To sum up, the most important thing is try to understand each other and be open-minded, listen and discuss. Only this way, we can solve our problems and we can attend our future with optimism. Besides, future awaits us, we have to hurry up to reach it, but be careful because we have to plot a new path without repeating mistakes of the past.

Picture by Elina Leli

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