In my fourth week I experienced some moments that touched me and made me think. Mostly they were unexpected moments. Looking back, I am very grateful to have been in exactly these places at exactly this time to be able to see the city and its people from this point of view.
I discovered new places also in this week. Unexpectedly, every time it was the journey itself that became the destination. With the aim to visit a concert, I set off with a friend to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center – for me it was the first time at this place. To get one thing clear: We have only been about 5 minutes at this concert. The water fountains in front of the building, which moved to the music and the lights, the huge National Library in the building with books up to the sky and a familiar smell of paper and printer’s ink, the impressive architecture of the building and the park on the roof with a great view and different toys for adults, prevented us from going to a normal concert visit.
We also started a journey in search of the Kaisariani Monastery. On the way uphill we stopped at numerous great places with a beautiful view of the city, as well as at a church on top. We used this great place for a picnic and nice conversations. As the time passed away to fast, we reached the monastery only shortly after the closure. Nevertheless I was very enthusiastic about the atmosphere of this place. Everything seemed so calm and peaceful, the trees were huge and the olives appeared in a very special color.
Furthermore, I visited the event “PoEntry, stepping into a new life”. This event was organized by the other intern of Inter Alia, Moffat from Zambia. The presentation of the poems was very great and entertaining, I am proud to know somebody like Moffat. I was even more touched by what was going on around them. The different nationalities, the joyful faces of the children, the proud parents, the individual stories of the people, the playful atmosphere and the encounter place of all those people touched me very much.
Another important event took place this week: on Sunday, the 17th of November, 46 years ago, the bloody repression and suppression of student uprisings against the dictatorship of the junta took place. Army tanks penetrated the fence of the Polytechnio, tearing down the main gates and seriously injuring and killing the people who were there at that very moment. A day of mourning, then and now. A few months later, the junta will transfer power to parliamentary democracy. On this date in the last years people of all colours gathered on the streets of Athens to protest against repression and oppression and for freedom and democracy. So was I that Sunday.
It was not my first demonstration here, but the day exceeded all expectations. That afternoon, the city seemed as quiet and dull to me as never before, but that changed quickly. At Syntagma Square, thousands of people from different parties, organizations and networks gathered. I was part of the first group and during the march, I was already impressed by the dynamics and volume of this group. Since my Greek was not enough to understand the words, I was happy to have a friend at my side who could translate. After reaching our destination, the American Embassy, we made our way back along a wide road. What I saw there touched me very much. We walked for quite a while and everything what I saw were people, people, people. I had never seen such a big crowd before. I had the feeling that the whole world had gathered there that day (for that reason I strongly doubt the official numbers of demonstrators). We just stood on Syntagma Square for a while and saw no end. It was a kind of hope that came over me. So many people peacefully, but still demanding and being very conscious on the street, all there to stand up for the politically right thing. For this moment I really had the feeling: We are more-what seemed like balm for the soul in these frightening times of rising nationalistic and right-wing mindsets. My feeling was only clouded by the police presence. If you look at what happened 46 years ago and then look at the thousands of heavily armed policemen wearing gas masks, helmets, vests and bottles of tear gas, it’s more like a message than just a precaution.
And again, I want to end this week’s journal with Greek words, which are more important this time, and since it is important to reflect on what we actually need as citizens: ψωμί, παιδεία, ελευθερία!
Hi! My Name is Elisabeth Schreier but everyone calls me Elli.I am 25 years old and I have successfully completed my Bachelor of Arts: Social Work in September 2019 in Leipzig. In Leipzig I have gained different experiences as a work student like working for and with a youth living unit for minor, female refugees and working in a close-to-family, integrative, stationary living unit for children and adolescents. Besides social work, my heart beats for animals. For this reason-in addition to the fact that I have two dogs- I absolved an internship at the institute of animal-assisted therapy and pedagogics in Denmark last year. Before going to Athens, I was volunteering in a shelter with over 350 stray dogs in Crete. After this more physical labour, I am excited to absolve a two-months internship at Inter Alia as part of an Erasmus graduate fellowship. The focus is on gaining and experiencing international and new impressions, working methods and diverse perspectives.
While in Athens, I implemented a workshop on female perspectives on the city.For more information on my project contact me firstname.lastname@example.org