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!
I had the honour of addressing the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations conference called “The inclusive city: management of diversity at the local level” at the United Nations headquarters, New York, on Oct 1, 2012, via Skype.
During the General Assembly ministerial week, and on the occasion of the
World Habitat Day, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the Italian Government hosted an interactive dialogue with high-level experts from UN Habitat, the International Organization for Migration, UNESCO, and International Federation of the Red Cross. Six prerecorded questions from grass roots sources were broadcast for the panelists’ responses – including mine.
The event was broadcast live on the UN TV site; HERE’S THE ARCHIVED LINK – my question is approximately hour.minute 1.37 – followed by a question from another participant, and then the panel response. http://webtv.un.org/watch/the-inclusive-city:-management-of-diversity-at-the-local-level/1871148951001/
|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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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|
IN HARD times, immigrants are often accused of stealing jobs. But migrants can actually create employment, according to research by Ivan Light, a professor emeritus of sociology at the University of California.
As quoted by the Irish Examiner, Light states that migrants have built-in advantages – like bi- or multi-lingualism, an intimate understanding of multiple cultures and access to international networks – which help them recognise business opportunities that mono-cultural locals might miss.
Historically, specific middlemen from ethnic minorities – often self-employed, due to hiring discrimination – have long excelled in international commerce. But, as Light notes in his contribution to the Handbook of Research on Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship, globalisation and transnationalism now enable practically every migrant group to have its own cosmopolitan, bi-cultural, acculturated – but not assimilated – business elite.
While English as a lingua franca may now lessen the traders’ traditional bilingual edge, they still possess valuable social capital.
An illustration of this is Petra Mitchell, a German who had operated in the fashion trade for more than 20 years, first by importing Greek products to Germany, and then, after her move to Greece in 1997, by exporting Greek products – until the buyers switched to cheaper items from countries like India and Bangladesh.
Quick to recognise potential, she began importing Chinese products – from motorbike tyres to mesh wire fence – in 2006.
This one-woman show says associates on both sides of every border appreciate her migrant duality.
“Customers like to converse in their own language, whether it’s English or German, and because I understand their business ethics and mentality, I can build a bridge between the Greek mentality and their own.”
Briton Malcolm Mann, who moved to Greece in 1993, co-owns a bicycle shop in the centre of Athens.
One partner – also British – capitalised on a growing trend in fixed-gear and single-gear bikes in the United States and Britain. “I think the fact that my partner had knowledge of the market outside Greece was a major factor,” Mann says. “That’s not to say, though, that there weren’t also some Greeks who recognised the gap in the market. But we got there first.”
The shop offers UK-style customer service, and presently employs one fulltime partner and a part-time Greek mechanic.
Besides importing, they’ve just begun exporting a Greek bike accessory to Britain. “Certainly our understanding of both cultures makes the whole process easier for the manufacturer and the outlets abroad.”
Kathryn Lukey-Coutsocostas is an Athens-based, Canadian Greek writer. She blogs at kathrynlukeycoutsocostas.wordpress.com
|http://www.athensnews.gr/issue/13500/56309||Athens News 15/Jun/2012 page 20|