EMPLOYMENT chances of so-called trailing spouses are often hampered by high unemployment rates, work permit difficulties, other expats on the market and personal selectivity.
According to a 2011 report on Global Relocation Trends by Brookfield Global Relocation Services, 60 percent of the trailing spouses of expats abroad on assignment were employed before the couple moved to another country, but only 15 percent worked after arrival.
So, is volunteerism a viable filler?
Besides benefiting society, the Global HR News article “Man, Trailing Spouse” suggests that volunteering can prevent resume gaps, spark alternative careers and promote personal fulfilment and self-improvement.
Avid volunteer Jennifer Ananiadis has spent a total of eleven years in Greece – Thessaloniki and then Athens, with an in-between year in India – because of her husband’s job. She’d previously worked for twenty years, but raising their young sons became her priority in Greece – along with volunteering at their schools.
It’s our obligation as citizens of the world to volunteer, American Ananiadis says, adding: “Even if you are one of those in need of help, there is always someone that you, in turn, can help.”
She’s a founding partner of the non-profit, Athens-based organisation Helping Handbags Hellas, which facilitates the donation and purchase of gently used designer handbags to support a variety of good causes.
Ananiadis feels volunteerism enables her to help women become actively engaged in the act of charity.
Through it, she feels useful and meets many people. With its flexible hours, it’s taken the place of a paying job for her.
Uruguayan Gabriela Larrieux agrees with the pluses, but highlights one difference. “When you have a real job,” she says, “you expect that your efforts will be recognised in some way, especially by getting your salary at the end of the month.”
Larrieux moved to Athens in 1982 and to Thessaloniki in 1993, where she became the president of the International Women’s Organisation of Greece (IWOG). Under her leadership, IWOG was one of the founding organisations to establish the city’s annual Food-for-Good Festival. Larrieux continues to coordinate the festival’s Latin American table.
In addition, she was a founding member and network facilitator of the Thessaloniki Organisation for Women’s Employment and Resources (Tower), as well as active in the American Farm School of Thessaloniki’s Group for Student Services for many years. Last, but not least, she’s been the honorary consul of Uruguay since 1995.
“Voluntary work taught me how to deal with people from different environments,” says Larrieux, as well as paving the way for her finding fulltime work in 2009.
Kathryn Lukey-Coutsocostas is an Athens-based, Canadian Greek (by marriage) writer and a transnational of some 30-odd years. She blogs at kathrynlukeycoutsocostas.wordpress.com
|Athens News 23/Mar/2012 page 22|
I’d like to personally invite everyone to the presentation I’ll be giving this Wednesday at the Newcomers March 14 meeting, called: ‘I’ll bet you’re a transnational!’. 10-11am (social hour), 11am shart (presentation), Vathis Taverna, 7 Kyrou Street, Kifissia. Entrance is ten euros for new members (5 euros for coffee, plus 5 euros for permanent membership). Hope to see you there! xx Kathryn
In the YouTube video “Body Language Mistakes People Make”, author Carol Kinsey Goman pinpoints five major interpretation errors people make.
One mistake is not to take the complete context of the interchange into consideration. Another is failing to compare a person’s current behaviour to their normal conduct. Yet another is focusing on only one of their gestures.
Personal bias also colours our perception, as does cultural bias.
Goman says cultural bias influences how close we stand to others, as well as how much we physically touch others, make eye contact, gesture and inject emotion into our voice.
Like most newcomers, when Briton Julie Raikou moved to Greece in 1983, she commonly mistook the animated conversations for arguments. She was surprised when strangers pinched her children’s cheeks and made spitting gestures to ward off evil spirits. She also had to recognise that a downwards head movement means “yes”, and an upwards tilt means “no”.
Jumping to conclusions
She feels that Greeks have probably drawn some wrong conclusions about her, as well. “Because English people tend to be less effusive with gestures and use lower tones when speaking,” Raikou says, “we are often considered to be ‘cold’ characters.“
But the hardest body language to adjust to in Greece, she feels, is the local proclivity for tight personal spaces, especially in queues.
Greek national Sissy Theofili studied in Spain and Scotland before repatriating in 2003. She didn’t feel she misinterpreted their body language, but she’s sure the Scots thought she was rude – until she learned to greet all people in close proximity, even strangers.
Shake, shake, shake
As a newcomer to Belgium in 1993, Briton Peter May says he didn’t have problems misinterpreting body language. The hardest Belgian body language to acquire, May says, is the custom of shaking hands with people every time you meet them – and not just on the first occasion.
“This applies to groups as well as individuals,” he adds, “which can mean a lot of handshaking every day.”
“Even when different customs are noticed,” May says, “it can be difficult to remember to maintain them in individual interaction.”
Theofili feels it’s difficult to absorb new body language because we are largely unaware of our own movements; we aren’t overtly taught body language, so we underestimate its importance.
“Our body language has accompanied each one of us forever and is part of who we are,” Theofili observes. “This makes it even more difficult to learn the body language of others.”
Kathryn Lukey-Coutsocostas is an Athens-based, Canadian Greek (by marriage) writer and a transnational of some 30-odd years
|Athens News 9/Mar/2012 page 22|
Two studies on future consumer trends by the NPD Group, a market research company, show that while Americans reach for sweet snacks, their northern neighbours, the Canadians, prefer salty nibbles, like cheese, chips and crackers.
Breakfast trends also differ: the research predicts that Americans will increase their consumption of “heat and eat” morning meals, like bagels and frozen pancakes, while Canadian consumption of the same products will decrease.
The residents of these two North American countries, which share a long border and parallel histories, have different taste preferences – so, can new borders sway old favourites?
After moving to Greece, two of today’s contributors have stuck to their salty snack leanings.
“Though I’m always open to new gastronomic experiences and sensations,” says American Jay Schwartz, who moved here in 1995, “I’m not that easily led astray from my personal tastes.”
Schwartz has always munched on popcorn, BBQ potato chips, Doritos corn chips and nuts. Easy access in both the United States and Greece is, for fellow Americans, both a blessing and a curse, he says.
“I’d venture to say that, should you visit any local periptero, you’d find the same staples of a diet that raise cholesterol and high blood pressure levels as you would anywhere else.”
If Doritos were not sold in Greece, Schwartz says he’d make do with some other salty titbit, adding that hungry homo sapiens always make the best of what’s available, regardless of location.
“When I first came to Greece, many of the UK snacks were not available here,” Briton Natasha Jarnot says of her move here in 1991, “so I snacked on what was available, such as products from the nuts shops that you used to be able to find in every neighbourhood.”
Her current favourites are Greece’s savoury biscuits and pies, like the tyropita.
“Since the arrival of multinational supermarket chains, I think Greece’s snacking habits may have changed,” Jarnot says, referring to a notable shift from homemade and healthy to processed.
Sweet tooth extraction
Canadian Anna Zanet (not her real name) enjoys year-round snacking on savoury treats, like nuts, dried fruit, Lay’s potato chips and crunchy kritsinia, or breadsticks.
But, before she moved to Greece in 1995, she’d reached for sweeter goodies. “Most often,” Zanet says, “I snacked on baked goods like blueberry or rhubarb muffins, cinnamon buns, scones or oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies.”
“I think it’s just the body’s natural response to demand instant energy from sugar in climates that are cold, and salt from climates that are warm and humid,” she observes.
She notes that lifestyle and availability may also influence taste: she worked at a nine-to-five job with regular coffee breaks in Canada, surrounded by shops with sweet baked delights.
“By the same token,” Zanet continues, “at a coffee break in Greece, you’re more likely to come across bougatsa, koulouria, peinirli, tyropita or spanakopita,” referring to custard pie, sesame rings, boat-shaped pizza and the staples of individual cheese or spinach pies.
If Zanet’s posturing is correct, it may account for the continued salty hankerings of Schwartz and Jarnot.
Which prompts me to conclude that all borders – and everything they entail – can be persuasive when it comes to changing minds.
|Athens News 24/Feb/2012 page|