If you happen to be around a radio this afternoon, Sept. 27, I’ll be doing a quickie interview on transnationalism on the show Good Afternoon Athens on AIR, Athens International Radio 104.4 fm, as a lead-up to my presentation at the Wing event on Saturday, Sept 29. Some time between 2:15-2:30pm!
|by Kathryn Lukey-Coutsocostas||13 Sep 2012|
ALL SOCIETIES have relied on natural substances to cure ailments, but Greek herbal medicine notably dates back to antiquity, with Hippocrates declaring: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
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
|http://www.athensnews.gr/issue/13512/58156Athens News 14/Sep/2012 page 36|
Saturday September 29th
Be invited to join our interactive presentation: I’ll bet you’re a transnational!
Presenter: Kathryn Lukey-Coutsocostas, Writer & Community Advocate
Crossing visible and invisible borders changes a person’s perspective. And finding the balance between your past, present and future is never an easy task, especially when your past is far removed.
Kathryn Lukey-Coutsocostas has been covering transnationalism for two decades in Greece’s national English-language press – join her in a female-oriented, interactive exploration of matters that shape identity, such as: belonging, encountering fresh cultures, speaking new languages, establishing relationships, fitting in at the workplace, dealing with homesickness (and returns), raising children, and more.
Professionally, Kathryn Lukey-Coutsocostas’ columns, journalistic work, and photographs have spotlighted the local international community in various publications, like the Athens News, Insider Athens, Odyssey, ELGazette and the ELT News. Her current fortnightly Athens News column, ‘On the borderline’, specifically explores the joys and challenges of being a transnational. Privately, she’s been a community advocate for even longer, serving – and creating – several not-for-profit, migrant-related groups and networks in Greece. She blogs at http://kathrynlukeycoutsocostas.wordpress.com/
When: Saturday, September 29th, 2012, 11:00am-1.30pm
(Doors open @10.45am. Please come in time)
Where: At Synergy Project, Lebessi 5-7, Makroyanni,
close to Metro Station Akropolis
RSVP to email@example.com or call 210 2849073
Entrance Women-only event. Guests pay 6 euro Athens Wing members free
Suspecting their English was minimal, I pointed to the sea, gave a thumbs-up, and said: “All okay?” The rudimentary gesturing elicited a broken “From where?” and some simple conversation and goodwill.
Basic positive or negative messages are easy to convey through internationally recognised gestures, like the A-Okay, thumbs up-down, moutza, V-sign, or the finger (which, apparently, stems from ancient Greece, according to the Language Trainers blog article by Wendy Wong entitled “The top 10 hand gestures you’d better get right”).
But, what about more localised gestures?
Upon encountering chaotic milling at a Greek post office, Briton Christopher Holmes, who moved to Greece in 2006, recently asked someone where the queue began. The recipient, Holmes says, gave a wonderful slow raise of his eyebrows and a languorous twirl of his hand.
“It was the mother of all Greek gestures,” Holmes says. “It didn’t just put the queue on that day in perspective but it caught in one gesture every eternal verity of queueing and lining and waiting, since the start of time – since the serpent at the gate to the garden said to Eve: ‘No, no, I insist, after you, my dear.’”
When Holmes pronounced it was the most eloquent gesture he’d ever seen in this land of eloquent gestures, everyone enviously produced solidarity twirls – and moved into a straight line.
American Melissa Stamoulos also mentions the whimsical twirl, describing how her sister tried “to imitate a Greek doing the circling hand manoeuvre – which we all know only a Greek can accomplish correctly.”
After four decades in Greece, Stamoulos feels the open-handed moutza is the most characteristic Greek gesture – oft displayed in its disparaging glory on roadways.
That eyebrow lift
George Raptopoulos, who moved to England in 2010, begs to differ. He feels the gesture most representative of his fellow Greeks is the simultaneous clicking of the tongue and raising of the eyebrows – a somewhat veiled expression of disapproval.
When asked, he says he’s witnessed non-Greeks by birth use the gesture effectively, but recommends caution: the user must ensure that the observer knows exactly which situation warrants contempt, if not the present one.
“For people not quite used to the nuances of the Greek mentality,” Raptopoulos says, “I’d say refrain from it until you’re fairly certain that the people who see you using it won’t misunderstand you.”
For those of us not born and raised in the country in which we reside, I propose a good measure of our integration is the ease with which we whirl and twirl. The more extroverted the society, the more whirling and twirling…
|Athens News 24/Aug/2012 page 18|
|by Kathryn Lukey-Coutsocostas||10 Aug 2012|
The same basic ingredients are recycled over and over again in recipes worldwide, so when writers disclose culinary secrets from ethnic sources, humanity is (literally) served.
American Diana Farr Louis has written several such books on food and travel, including the recently re-released Prospero’s Kitchen: Island Cooking in Greece, reviewed in the July 27 issue of Athens News.
What are some Greek twists to old standbys?
“In America, you chomp on pure hamburger, but here ground beef rarely appears on its own,” Louis says, noting that variations of meatballs – often spiced with parsley, mint or cumin – are made lighter and stretched further by adding bread to the meat mixture.
“But, perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of Greek food is its treatment of vegetables.”
Growing up, Louis remembers vegetables were boiled and buttered, but she has since learned that olive oil brings out the flavour, especially in creative ladera (oil-based) dishes. New finds also include beans, lentils and chickpeas – as well as novel ways to stuff and wrap.
Since her Greek move in 1963, she’s learned to shun butter and serve food at room temperature, but still refrains from serving bread with meals or spoon sweets to guests who visit outside meal times.
Fresh and simple
Due to limited resources, “Greek cooking has ended up being relatively simple gastronomically”, Louis says, “but reliant on fresh and good-quality ingredients, a few key herbs (mint, oregano, bay leaf, thyme, parsley), that miraculous, tasty olive oil and, of course, lemon juice.”
Scotswoman Rosemary Russell Damianos, who moved to Greece in 1991, also embraces olive oil, bread in her ground beef and fresh herbs. She’s a veggie enthusiast, too.
“The abundance of fresh spices and herbs, as well as vegetables, has widened Greece’s range of vegetarian recipes,” Damianos says, describing imam baildi as a “very delicious combination of aubergines, tomatoes, onions and herbs baked to melting point”.
Plain old semolina – which Damianos used to make children’s bedtime puddings in the UK – has now become a tasty family treat in halva and revani, or samali, a moist sponge cake.
But one needn’t be a gourmet cook to learn new tricks. Helen Krystallis, who was raised in Ireland and first came to Greece in 1976, calls herself a “survival food eater and preparer”.
Krystallis has also turned to olive oil, along with tahini, honey and spinach pies, and has adopted the Greek gusto for oregano and freshly chopped tomatoes.
Culinary customs carry flavour – and wisdom. Louis advises we learn from the Greeks “not to drown our sorrows without eating something, to share what we have with friends and neighbours, to drink wine rather than milk or coke, and to remember that the Mediterranean diet is not a regime – it’s a pleasant way of life.”
|Athens News 10/Aug/2012 page 18|
|by Kathryn Lukey-Coutsocostas||27 Jul 2012|
I ONCE caught my translingual toddler sitting on a bed at her grandmother’s house in Canada, secretly sifting through a jarful of grandma’s saved pennies and reverentially whispering to herself: “Millions, millions….”
- 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 3/Aug/2012 page 18
HOLDING A few cultural cliches or stereotypes when moving to a new land is “not necessarily all bad”, according to the article “Cultural Intelligence” in InterNations Expat Magazine.
Some stereotypes – which implant themselves in collective memory because they are simple to understand and therefore more memorable – may carry an element of truth. So, stereotypes can serve as an accessible starting point on the route to cultural awareness – first, about our own native homeland culture, and then about our host culture – eventually leading to true cultural intelligence, suggests the article.
Ellen Werter, for example, moved to Greece from the Netherlands in 1985 with the preconception that “Greeks are very interesting people, but you cannot trust them”.
As she grew to better understand the language and code of behaviour, she could ascertain whether, for example, a promise was a promise – or if it served some other purpose, like pleasing the listener. She was also surprised to learn that people sometimes express opinions they don’t hold, in order to incite lively discussions.
“Coming from a Dutch culture, where people are quite direct in giving their opinion,” Werter says, “I really had to adjust to this particular part of the Greek culture.”
Pakistani Taj Khan Kalash comes from the Kalasha tribe, which believes it descends from Alexander the Great’s troops. He anticipated finding generous and hospitable Greeks, and his expectations were met. Wanting to surprise his host when he moved here in 2002, he ended up being surprised himself: his host was away in Finland.
But, Kalash said, “he immediately made arrangements with a friend of his who was in the Peloponnese and the friend drove all the way to Athens to receive me and offer me great hospitality”.
Like him, UK-raised Katie Quartano grew up with a positive picture of a warm, hospitable Greece, conveyed by her Greek grandfather and the London-based Greek community, and confirmed locally.
But, stereotyping works both ways. For instance, Quartano, who moved here in 1982, finds many locals believe the English to be cold and unfriendly. She is angered by those who would judge a whole nation without having had a single personal experience with the country or its nationals and, like the article, suggests the motives for attitudes and actions run deep.
For instance, British children may be encouraged to leave the family home and live independently at a younger age than Greeks, but she suggests that this does not imply that the parents are uncaring or incompetent. Nor does their tough-love philosophy of allowing a child to learn through its mistakes imply a lack of interest or love.
In short, stereotypes may contain a kernel of truth, but genuine comprehension requires cracking the whole nut.
|http://www.athensnews.gr/issue/13504/56964||Athens News 13/Jul/2012 page 12|
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares, among other things in Article 18, that “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief”.
The reasons for religious shifts may include a change in personal belief, coercion, or, simply, convenience. But, any change – whether conversion to a new faith, or reaffiliation within the same denomination, like Christianity – must require some soul-searching.
What about newcomers who encounter a predominant religion in a country, as in Greece? Do they go with the flow, adopting a new creed? Or hunker down further into their own established beliefs? Most importantly, which factors affect their decision?
Anglican Frances Kaltsiki moved to Greece from Canada in 1981 – a year before Greek civil marriages legally took their place alongside religious marriages between Greek Orthodox participants. She notes that life would have been easier then, bureaucratically, had she reaffiliated.
But, as a newcomer not steeped in Greek Orthodox tradition, she found it unfulfilling to worship in a language she didn’t understand – to Byzantine music that she found uninspiring. She was also disappointed by the church’s use of its immense wealth and influence – and by its stance on women.
“I had a Greek priest tell me once: ‘You’re a woman. You don’t count,’” Kaltsiki says.
By contrast, Lynn Margaret Norwood, who left England for Greece in 1980, accepted Orthodoxy here, heart-and-soul.
After having been raised in the Methodist tradition, Norwood had forsaken all religion, even managing – at great financial expense – to avoid being baptised Greek Orthodox before her marriage. However, following a personal crisis, she experienced a spiritual breakthrough due to counselling from a Greek Orthodox priest.
“To say I grew in faith is so weak,” Norwood says, “but words cannot explain what I experienced, and still experience since I died in Christ.”
However, peace of mind is not guaranteed by place or prevalence.
Eleni Tsigante was born Greek in India. As a toddler, she was baptised Greek Orthodox by one set of grandparents in Greece, and then Anglican by the other set of grandparents in the UK.
After residing in several countries, she settled in Greece in 2007. She recently faced the dilemma of whether to denounce Greek Orthodoxy in order to be fully received into another Christian church.
“My first reaction was,” Tsigante says, “without Orthodoxy, where do I go, when I, Eleni, am in need of comfort?”
Much to her surprise, she realised that her internal organisation was based around the Greek Orthodox year, with religious ceremonies and periods of fasting. Tsigante decided to resist reaffiliation, embracing engrained doctrine and practice instead to bring her solace and salvation.
Kathryn Lukey-Coutsocostas is an Athens-based, Canadian Greek writer. She blogs at kathrynlukeycoutsocostas.wordpress.com
|http://www.athensnews.gr/issue/13502/56688||Athens News 29/Jun/2012 page|
NEARLY HALF of the global workforce say they’d consider moving to another country for the right job, pay and incentrives, according to a recent survey of 24 countries by Ipsos, a global research company.
It must be even easier for the working-aged children from binational families to decide to relocate to one of their parents’ native homelands – or is it?
Briton Jean Bailey-Moutzouki feels her only child’s decision to become a heritage repatriate and migrate to England last month in search of work is the negative image of her own choice to move to Greece two decades ago. “I had the luxury to go in search of adventure,” Jean Bailey-Moutzouki says, “knowing full-well that any number of jobs would be available to me if and when I returned.”
Talk the talk
On the bright side, her Greek daughter has the built-in advantages of being a British national and speaking accent-free English. “She is in the privileged position of having the choice of whether or not to declare her Greek heritage, which I think gives her an enormous advantage in the whole relocation game.”
Greece-based Stephanie Smith ensured close ties to her native Britain by returning there to give birth to her two boys, and continued, like Bailey-Moutzouki, to arrange frequent to-and-from visits. Both of Smith’s sons were encouraged to attend university – and to work – in Britain. “From an early age, I think they felt they were bicultural and bilingual,” Smith says, “and never had any problems integrating.”
Her younger son presently works there at his dream job in fashion and textile design but her older son, who returned to Greece and changed careers two years ago, is now reconsidering his decision. “He loves life in Greece,” Smith says, “but with the crisis now, he might not stay.”
Glad and sad
American Elizabeth Wahlert-Athanassiadis’ daughter gladly left Greece for the USA at the age of 17 to study and then stayed on to work. Her son, however, is a different story. Greece’s economic crisis triggered reductions in his salary and workhours, obliging him to migrate to America in January after procuring a good position there.
“He loved Greece,” Wahlert-Athanassiadis says, “the nightlife, the food, his parea (his group of buddies) and his job.” But, without a shadow of a doubt, she feels their having had an American mother and a father who’d attended university in the States – plus regular visits – was a great integration advantage.
Flawless English also helped, as well as American passports and US Social Security Numbers. “In all probability,” Wahlert-Athanassiadis observes, “my son would not have been considered for the job without these two vital documents.”
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
|http://www.athensnews.gr/issue/13497/55811||Athens News 25/May/2012 page 22|
While some of the newly coined or popularised words will survive, others will expire, spells out the New York Times article entitled “Which words will live on?”
For example, the term “austerity measures” was (unfortunately) popularised last year, the article says, and the phrase “bath salts” assumed a new meaning (illegal stimulants).
Apparently, “horsemaning” (posing in a photo to create the impression of a headless body appearing next to a severed head) became popular, while others applied “humblebrag” (self-deprecation that reveals wealth or importance) and “twinkling” (a hand gesture showing approval).
What do we transnationals do when confronted with unfamiliar, new-fangled vocabulary?
American Kevin Berkowitz says that when he encounters newly popularised terms in writing, he typically ignores them – citing “CeeLo Green” and “Kim Kardashian” from the Huffington Post.
“Though, in these examples,” Berkowitz says, “I can understand they are names of pop-media stars whose fame has come since I’ve been overseas.”
He employs the same strategy during conversations: “I usually just let it go, knowing the other person may be a follower of word-fads.”
“Those of us who listen to or read news daily can spot word trends and fads,” says Berkowitz, who lived in several countries before moving to Greece in 2005. “My criticism is that not everyone understands these words, so why use them? You’ll never catch me using ‘schadenfreude’ in a sentence.” (We just did!)
Briton Julie Carter, who also lived in several countries before moving to Greece in 1989, prefers to investigate.
Look it up or ask
“I heard both of the terms ‘chav’ (the underclass) and ‘muffin-top’ (bulging fat around the waist) from my UK-based sisters,” Carter says, “so I just asked what they meant. Of course, they gave me odd ‘where has she been’ looks, but they explained.”
While close friends and family make allowances for our lapses, others are not always so forgiving.
“If it happens with people I don’t know so well, it does make me feel slightly out of things,” she says, “especially since I teach English and pride myself on knowing my language.”
Unfortunately, by the time we show off our new vocabulary, it may be too late.
David Gibson came to Greece in 1979. Several years ago, he was bewildered when a fellow Briton used the phrase “hole in the wall” in Greece to mean an automated teller machine (ATM).
When Gibson finally had the chance to use the phrase himself back in the UK, it had already gone out of style – leaving the locals scratching their heads instead of twinkling.
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 27/Apr/2012 page 22|