Culture Shock: Where is a person’s home?

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Home is a key word in the whole “culture shock” pavillion. Where is a person’s home? What defines it? Level of comfort? Professional/financial opportunities? Quality of life? Living amongst the people who mean the most to us?

Considering the phrase “Home is where you are understood” helps us both close in on and complicate the matter. If home truly is “where I am understood”, can there really be such a place of eternal and uncomplicated understanding? And once a person has lived substantial amounts of time in two (or more) different countries doesn’t he/she get too complicated to be understood just by one country alone? Example: While in Greece you enjoy going to “Panerythraikos” to get your junk food. Souvlaki defines junk food for you, souvlaki understands you. Once in the DC/VA/MD tri-state area you get to enjoy Ray’s Hell Burger. Hell yeah, it doesn’t serve fries, but even the President suffered it so why shouldn’t you? So junk food gets redefined. It is no longer a strip of meat inside a tzatziki filled pita. It is a fatty juicy burger between two fat buns. Two different shapes, two juicy pictures in the head, two equally satisfying junk food options.

Now imagine this: It’s Sunday night, your favorite movie of all times is playing on tv, you haven’t had junk food for days and you are seriously craving some. What comes to mind? Remember, it’s not your first day back in either country. No. You haven’t missed anything. Not making it any easier on you. You have enjoyed both equally on different occasions. And now you are stuck. You don’t know what you want. You are trying to decide upon a craving -so what sort of a craving is it if you are trying to decide on it? Point is, your level of familiarity with both souvlaki and burger is equal. They both understand you, on their own little levels. So what gives?

Home. Home is a tricky word. We all want to go home and feel safe. But what is it that brings safety about? If it is familiarity, what happens when you aquire an equal amount of familiarity with a second “home”? And can you have multiple homes?

Greek Expatriates Donate Computer Equipment to Laconia High Schools

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The Pan-Macedonian Association of Ontario Inc. has donated 31 PCs, printers and UPS units to three schools in Laconia prefecture of southern Greece.

The computers have already been installed at the high schools of Areopolis, Krokei and Skala.

In 2007, the expatriate organisation raised 37,500 dollars for the victims of wildfires that ravaged parts of the Peloponnese.

A Greek Londoner with a Checkered Past Comes to Hollywood

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The album “Happy Returns” was digitally released on the 15th of September. The name of the artist who created it is Livan, the shortened version of his father’s last name “Livanos”, a Greek politician who helped Greece get rid of the military coup and later played a leading role in Greek politics. Livan has received some early comparisons to famed U.K. punk Billy Idol for his new album, and his story is a hard one. In his youth, he chose to run from the challenge of coming from a powerful, political family rather than embrace it. “When you grow up with those people in your house, you wonder how the hell you’re going to top that. I was crap at everything, so I thought that if I couldn’t be good at being good, I would try being good at being bad.” His descent into drugs, alcohol, gambling, and other undesirable activities brought Livan face to face with his own mortality. He found himself in prison and, later, addicted to heroin, dying slowly in the ghettos of Athens and London. One day seeing clearly his self-destruction he decided that “life has to be better than this” and that was the point when he started creating music. With his hard work he is now “living his dream”. We talked to him as he was preparing for his two shows in LA: one at the Viper Room and at the Whiskey a Go Go on the 20th and the 23rd of September, respectively.

Where are you originally from?

I am from Greece.

Where did you grow up?

Greece and the UK.

What is your family history/members? What part of Greece are they from?

My grandfather’s νame was Panagiotis Kanelopoulos and he was from Patra and my father’s name was Dionisis Livanos and he was from Messolongi.  Former Minister and European Union Parliamentarian Dionisis Livanos was born in 1934 in Athens and studied political and economic sciences in Athens, Thessaloniki and Oxford University. He was elected as a member of the parliament for Aitoloakarnania with New Democracy in 1974, and re-elected in 1981 and 1985, when he became independent. He was elected European Union Parliamentarian with PASOK in 1989, while four years later he was appointed Minister of Tourism, holding the position for two years. My Brother Spilios Livanos is continuing the family involvement in Greek Politics to this day.

Why were they exiled?

My Grandfather was prime-minister of Greece at the time and was overthrown by a fascist military coup in 1967. My Father was heavily involved with the resistance movement and got arrested, heavily tortured and then exiled to Parga which is a Greek island.

On your website you state that “you did not want to embrace the challenge of becoming better than your family members”. How high are you aiming now with your album release?

That’s a difficult one. Realistically, I’m hoping that this album will introduce my work and give me my first US audience, anything more would be a bonus. But you never know. You’ve got to shoot for the stars and maybe you’ll get there, right?

Do you think that growing up in Athens shaped your music in a certain way.

Surely. I grew up in a charged environment both from a family and social aspect. Greece is a country second to none but full of controversy and psycho-social imbalance. I witnessed and lived with every walk of life in Greece. So, yes most definitely my lyrics are hugely influenced by my experiences.

Do you think that drugs help inspiration for music? Did they help you?

No. Not at all.

Is it true that best music comes out of hardships?

I don’t know about the best, but surely music that makes you feel.

What is the word that most characterizes your music?

On this last record I would say satyr/sarcasm.

On your album you play all your instruments. Which one is your favorite?

Probably the piano.

Do you think that rich or famous kids get addicted to drugs easier? Why?

No I don’t. If you are asking me from a personal point of view I wouldn’t know as I was neither rich nor famous. I can say with certainty though that addiction knows no boundaries and it will take you down, whoever you are whatever you do or do not have. It’s a killer man, and a very underestimated one, especially in Greece.

What was the incident that made you strong enough to quit drugs?

Look, I don’t consider quitting drugs an achievement as all I did was stop doing what I shouldn’t have been doing in the first place, but I think what kept me going was hope that tomorrow was going to be a better day. Also my family!

Have you thought of crossing the Atlantic and coming to live in the US?

Yes, in fact I’m in the USA as we speak. It all depends on the circumstances and the timing.

Would you like the idea of becoming a politician yourself?

Never in a million years!!!

Is there any Greek aspect to your music?

Not really. I am Greek and proud of it but I’m also a Londoner and my musical influence derives from the heart of the London punk scene.

A political aspect?

Yes, absolutely. A lot of my lyrical content is politically charged. I said before I didn’t want be a politician but I strongly believe people should have political opinions otherwise you’re not exercising the biggest gift given to man: freedom.

Extras:

Happy Returns, Livan’s most recent collection, is self-produced and due for digital release through Pumpkin Music on September 15, 2009.

Greek Reporter Can Send You to Livan’s LA Show and VISIT HIS WEBSITE

Aris Melissaratos: Industrialist of the Year

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The Baltimore Museum of Industry has named Aris Melissaratos, Senior Advisor to the President for Enterprise Development at Johns Hopkins University, the 2009 William Donald Schaefer Industrialist of the Year.

Mr. Melissaratos was selected because of his extraordinary commitment to Baltimore businesses and his efforts in promoting technology throughout the region. In accepting the honor, Melissaratos said: “I have lived in Baltimore since my arrival from Greece at age 13. Since then, I have had increased opportunities to work in all aspects of Baltimore’s and Maryland’s industries. Over that time, I became conversant with the technology and business details of all Maryland manufacturing companies, from large to small. I am truly honored to be considered worthy of this prestigious William Donald Schaefer Industrialist of the Year Award, which is most appreciated at this stage of my post industrial career.”

A 1966 Johns Hopkins graduate, Aris currently serves as Senior Advisor to the President of Johns Hopkins University with responsibilities for technology transfer, corporate partnerships, and enterprise development. From 2003 to 2007, he served as Secretary of Business and Economic Development for the State of Maryland, driving the state’s unemployment figures down to an impressive 3.6% and positioning Maryland for leadership in the emerging “knowledge economy”.

Mr. Melissaratos worked for Westinghouse Electric Corporation for 32 years. When he retired he was the corporation’s Chief Technology Officer and Vice President for Science and Technology, responsible for running Westinghouse’s research and development functions. Before that he served as the Chief Operations Officer for the company’s Defense Electronics Group, where he was responsible for managing 16,000 employees (9,000 engineers) and $3.2 billion dollars in sales. On leaving Westinghouse he became Vice President of Thermo Electron Corporation and CEO of its Coleman Research Corporation and Thermo Information Solutions subsidiaries. He formed Armel Scientifics, LLC which invested in over 30 start-up companies in Life Sciences and Advanced Technology.

He holds a Master of Science in engineering management from George Washington University and has completed the program for Management Development at the Harvard University School of Business. He completed the course work for a Ph.D. in International Politics at the Catholic University of America but did not complete the dissertation.

Among many honors, Melissaratos was named 2008 Baltimore’s Extraordinary Technology Advocate (BETA). He is the founding co-chair of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council and is a former vice president of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce. “BMI is extremely pleased to honor Aris Melissaratos. He is a man who has had a significant positive impact in many areas of the Maryland business economy both in supporting existing industries and in fostering businesses of the future. His professional career and his work in the community exemplify the criteria for our honorees,” said Roland Woodward, Director of the Baltimore Museum of Industry.

The William Donald Schaefer Industrialist of the Year Award was introduced in 2004 to recognize and celebrate Maryland’s visionary business leaders as distinguished by their innovative approaches to industry, and dedication to the well-being of their communities. The award is named for William Donald Schaefer, a founder of the Baltimore Museum of Industry and former Mayor of Baltimore who in 1977 began a project to recognize and preserve the innovations of this region’s industrial heritage.

Past Industrialists include: (2008) Edwin F. Hale Sr., chairman and chief executive officer of 1st Mariner Bancorp, (2007) Suzanne F. Jenniches, Vice President, Government Systems Division of Northrop Grumman Corporation, (2006) the late Mark Sneed, president Phillip Foods, Inc., (2005) Kevin Plank, president UnderArmour, and (2004) Richard Baker, plant manager Domino Sugar.

(Source NEOmagazine)

Somali pirates release Greek ship

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Somali pirates have released a Greek-owned ship hijacked five months ago and freed its 21 Filipino crew members, officials and pirates have said.
“The MV Irene is free. All 21 crew are safe and sound,” maritime official Andrew Mwangura told AFP news agency.
Reuters news agency cited a pirate as saying the hijackers acted after receiving a ransom of $2m (£1.2m).
Pirate attacks have been common off the Somali coast, and international navies have been deployed to counter them.
Somalia has been without a functioning central government since 1991, allowing the pirates to operate in the Gulf of Aden, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
The pirate who confirmed to Reuters that the MV Irene had been released on Monday was speaking from the coastal pirate stronghold of Eyl and gave his name as Hussein.
“We already left the vessel and now we are dividing our money,” he said. “A helicopter brought the cash this morning.”
source: BBC News

Opa! Greeks celebrate culture with food, dance, music

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Twelve hours after he arrived, Bill Makris was still standing, watching over succulent rotisserie pig and lamb as festivalgoers carried plates of Greek delicacies.
“It’s an event where you’re happy to see people enjoy the food,” he said Friday night at the Niagara Greek Festival, where the 18- kilogram animals took four hours to roast. “People come for the souvlaki and gyros.”
Hundreds of people gathered on the grounds of the Greek Community Centre in St. Catharines Friday night for the beginning of the three-day Greek extravaganza.
Makris, who came to Canada from Greece at age 17 and is now a grandfather, said the event brings together Greeks and non-Greeks from across the peninsula. It’s an opportunity to enjoy food, people and friendships.
“We’re really proud of Canada and proud of our heritage, too,” he said. “And we’re really thankful Canada allows every nationality to show their background and culture.”
The event, in its fourth year, is expected to draw more than 8,000 people to take in the sights, sounds and tastes of Greece.
Festival co-chair Harry Korosis said the last three years have created weather challenges, but Friday’s nice conditions broke attendance records. The appeal of the event is no surprise to him.
“Number one, the food is great,” he said. “Greeks are very hospitable and great hosts. We like to share our culture with those who aren’t Greek.”
There are about 200 families in the Greek Community of Niagara, making up about 1,200 to 1,600 people in the peninsula.
The group launched the festival in 2006, a year after moving into former Maplewood School on Niagara Street at Linwell Road. Korosis said the grounds gave them the opportunity to host the large-scale event, something they couldn’t do in a previous smaller space.
The festival showcases Greek bands, dancers and other entertainment, along with traditional foods and pastries like moussaka, spanakopita and baklava.
Within the marketplace tents, Gina Droganes was describing to visitors the 40th anniversary historical album project.
The book, available in November or December, will chronicle the history of Hellenism in Niagara. Droganes, project co-ordinator, said researchers conducted interviews with members of the Greek community and plowed through various resources at the public library and Brock University.
The first documentation of Greeks in the area is from a 1911 census of St. Catharines, though Droganes said they probably arrived earlier.
“These people who came in the early days were the trailblazers,” she said, explaining they started a Greek school and kept the heritage alive for future generations.
source: «The standard»

Kalash team in Afghanistan to get Greek engineer freed

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Nooristan is embedded in the south of Hindu Kush valleys. One of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan, it is bordered on the east by Pakistan.
Nooristan is embedded in the south of Hindu Kush valleys. One of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan, it is bordered on the east by Pakistan.
A delegation of the Kalash Muslim community left Chitral for Nooristan area of Afghanistan on Friday to secure the release of Greek engineer Athanasius Lerounis who was kidnapped last week and reportedly taken to the adjacent Afghan area.
Wazirzada, a spokesman of the community, said that the delegation comprised former union council nazim Abdul Majid and Qari Abdus Saboor. The delegation, he said, would seek the help of prominent people in Nooristan to get in touch with the kidnappers.
He said that Muslims living in the valley had migrated from Nooristan and most of whom belonged to the Sheikh clan.
He said the kidnappers had not yet made any demand. He said that one of the shepherds who had been forced by the kidnapper to carry Mr Lerounis on his back said that he was safe and appeared to be in good health.
He said that the delegation would hold a jirga in Bargamatol (in Nooristan) on Saturday.
Meanwhile, district police chief Mohammad Jaffar Khan has constituted a team comprising DSPO Chitral Mohammad Sabir, SHO Ayun Zafar Ahmed and two sub-inspectors to probe into the incident.
Our Peshawar Bureau adds: Kalash people have warned that if the government failed to protect their community they would shift to another country in protest.
They urged the government to deploy security forces along the Chitral-Nooristan border to curb the movement of criminals.
Addressing a press conference at the Peshawar Press Club, Chustyar Khan, Taaleem Khan, Zarin Khan and minority MPA Prince Javaid condemned the kidnapping of the Greek engineer and the killing of a constable by the kidnappers. They claimed that the engineer had been kidnapped by Afghan Taliban for ransom.
They said: ‘Bamborate, Bareer and Rambor valleys share border with Afghanistan where kidnappers can move with impunity.’
‘The government is earning a lot of revenue from tourism in our area but it is doing nothing for the people,’ said Saeeda Gul. She urged the government to provide security to the community.
source: «Dawn»

Exclusive Interview: Ecumenical Patriarch on Environment, Turkey, and the US

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His All Holiness, The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew proves one more time that his recognition as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people was well deserved. At the end of October he will visit the United States to lead the 8th International Inter-religious Ecological Symposium co-organized by the Patriarchate to help the Mississippi River. After the conference, he will visit New York, Atlanta, and Washington. He has scheduled meetings not only with important businessmen, leaders representing the Greek diaspora, and members of the American government but also with President Obama. In these meetings he will try to promote the Patriarchate’s agenda, which he explains to us exclusively. His last interview was well over a year ago.

We met His All Holiness at the Patriarchal Office in Istanbul a day before the Orthodox Church’s celebration of Earth Day. This day also marked the beginning of the new cycle of the Ecclesiastical Calendar.

It is a great honor for us to meet you.

Your visit gives me joy and I am glad we are meeting today. I would like to take a moment to send my regards to all the readers of Greek Reporter and all the members of Greek diaspora.

You have planned a visit to the US. Please tell us about your upcoming mission.

I will be in the US the last days of October and I will stay until November 10th. I will first visit Mississippi where we will participate at the 8th International Inter-religious Ecological Symposium. This conference was started by the Patriarchate in 1995 and first convened on an island in the Aegean Sea. Subsequent locations included meetings near the Black Sea, Danube River, Adriatic Sea, Baltic Sea, Amazon River, in Finland, and now the 2009 conference is to be held at the Mississippi River from the 18th of October until the 25th.

Are you planning any visits to other states?

From Mississippi I will go to New York for the celebration of St. Demetrius on the 27th of October. On this day the United States Archbishop celebrates not only his name day, but also 10 years since his election to the position. Then I will spend one day in Atlanta because the president of Coca-Cola is Turkish and he is a very good human being and very successful, proof of this is that such a major company chose him to be their CEO.

What will you do in Washington?

I will visit the Capital and I will have meetings with the President, Vice President, and Secretary of State. The Vice President and the Secretary will each host a dinner in honor of the Patriarchate.

Is your appointment with the President certain?

Yes, it is certain that we will meet but we do not know the exact time and date yet.

You’ve met President Obama before…

Yes, we met here in Istanbul when he came to visit Turkey. He received me in his hotel and then we had time to discuss a few things. After he met with me, he received all the other religious leaders as a group, but he saw me separately.

He has supported the reopening of the Theological School of Chalki…

Yes, he said that officially in front of the Great Assembly of Turkey. He said that the Theological School should reopen and this will send a very important message from Turkey.

Do you think that the Prime Minister of Turkey, Mr. Erdogan, has the same opinion? What did he tell you in the meeting you had at the Prince’s Islands?

It’s true we had a meeting in Prinkipos (Buyukade) where there were also other religious leaders. The most important thing for us was that he visited the old orphanage which at a certain point the Governor of Vakuvia tried to take from us. We lost the legal case here and then we went to the International Court of Human Rights and there we won. So, Mr. Erdogan visited the building that Turkey lost, which is in bad shape. Last, he went to St. George’s Monastery. He was very amenable. He visited the temple of the monastery and went to the reception room and signed the guest book with a very kind message. We were his hosts and we exchanged presents. He gave us a lot of hope for resolutions to the issues between the Patriarchate and Turkey with his friendly attitude and his honesty, especially the reopening of the Theological School in Chalki.

If Turkey allows it, is the school ready to open?

Yes, the school is absolutely ready. It can start operating immediately.

What is the current relationship between the Patriarchate and Turkey?

Things are much better with Turkey now. This government has treated the Patriarchate and minority groups much better than previous administrations. This gives us a lot of hope.

You’ve been called “The Green Patriarch” by many members of the press, because of your involvement with the environment. Tell us a few words about the Patriarchate’s actions for this issue.

Our Patriarchate has been involved with this issue for many years. Environmental protection is a problem for all of humanity, not just the Orthodox community. It is a very hot topic, I have to admit that the actions towards environmental activism of the Patriarchate were initiated by the Patriarch before me, Patriarch Demetrius, and I have been working to continue pressing the issue with these ecological symposiums. Patriarch Demetrius designated the 1st of September as Environment Day for the Orthodox Church. Every year on that day we sing hymns for the protection of the environment. We have also published a book with our thoughts on the issue and why the Church is involved with it. You will see that we were the first Christian Church to become seriously involved with this issue. This is a matter of honor for us.

Is this the first issue on your agenda?

It is one of the first ones. We are also trying to have a dialogue with the other Christians that are not united. We also have discussions with members of the other monotheistic religions. We often meet with members of the Jewish and Muslim faiths to further understand them. We do not want to exist in a state of competition or conflict. We want friendship and to be able to sit at the same table like civilized human beings. The union will come with God’s will. Nobody knows this, but we as human beings–regardless of religion–have to lay the groundwork of mutual respect, love, and collaboration on issues like ecology, war, peace, sickness, and all these matters that do not need dogmatic unity. These are social issues that we can collaborate on even without religious unity.

Photo Credit: Rachel Portele

The Greek behind Hollywood’s product placement

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Product placement is not an easy business, but in the modern era of new marketing, companies are increasingly seeking this advertising tool in order to cut on costs and reach audiences in new ways. We spoke with Tami Cooper, the Greek-American director of a well known product placement agency in Hollywood about her business and her future plans.

What part of Greece is your family from?

Athens.

Do you visit Greece often?

I visited once and I’m a third generation America.

How did you get involved with product placement and found “Hollywood Props”?
A client of my CPA firm was involved in product placement, I had a previous career is accounting.

Tell us a few words about your agency…

It is a product placement agency that has proven results in the TV and film world for over 15 years.

Is product placement more effective than traditional direct ad campaigns?

It varies, but it’s always an effective advertising tool.

How well does it help sell Greek products?

Affiliation with American TV shows is very effective for Greek products.

How was your first period of time in Hollywood?

I grew up in Studio City, California and was raised with Helen Hunt in my middle school. I fell into this business with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting.

What was the best moment of your career?

Working in a bathing suit on a fun island raft, then shooting on the set of FRIENDS (NBC) with my dog, I had to hide her under my beach towel to get on the lot at Warner Bros.

What was the best product placement case for a Greek product that you managed?

Greek olive oil on the set of FRIENDS (NBC)

How much does it cost? Can you give us an example?

An annual retainer cost starts at $5,000.00

Do you have any future plans that you would like to share with us?

Yes, I want to do a show about a Greek Girl!  Also to be an artist in Greece, I have many plans for Greek subjects.

First International Research on Diaspora Greeks

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Research conducted by the Greek company “Kapa Research” has yielded significant results regarding the Greek Diaspora communities all over the world. The results were presented to Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis who delivered a speech praising the role of the Greek Diaspora and expressing the hope that Parliament will ratify the Diaspora Vote, which she described as a link with the motherland.
The research began in 2007 and was conducted by Kapa Research in collaboration with the Center for Hellenic Studies at Harvard University. Respondents were drawn from 10,846 Diaspora Greeks, 1,270 Cypriot Greeks and 3,506 Greeks in Greece who responded to a broad range of questions. The results show not only their commitment and faith in Greece, Greek language, Greek culture and Greek traditions but also their problems with the Greek state and primarily with bureaucracy. Also interesting is the fact that 85 per cent of Greeks abroad stay in touch with news and developments in Greece via the Internet.
source: greekinsight