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“Should I stay or should I go? Youth and migration in Greece” November 26, 2014

Posted by usbngo in Older Posts.

Promoted by Thessaloniki European Youth Capital 2014 and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung academic foundation, the event “Should I stay or should I go? Youth and migration in Greece” was presented on Monday 24 November at the Thessaloniki City Hall.


The fishbowl discussion was concerned on the experiences of four young Greeks that faced this question with the aim of the event was to analyze the pro and con of migration as solution for escaping from economical crisis consequences.

The discussion was opened by Maria Pashalidou, President of Thessaloniki European Youth Capital 2014, that stated the great success and enthusiasm of Thessaloniki Youth Capital that has involved many young people but also raised the question: “ but then do what?”. The economical crisis brings the young European generations, especially those of the southern Europe countries, to face great difficulties to enter in the labor market and to ask themselves: “should I stay do what? Or should I leave and go where?”. “The crisis gives you the possibility to refuse the easy life long comfortable job, that represents the Greece of the past, and to live an experience abroad as an opportunity to grew”, affirmed Maria Pashalidou. But this brain drain phenomenon risks to transform itself from a spontaneous question to an obligation forced by a disadvantaged condition, as Thomas Papakostandinou, Phd in Social Antropology said.

The fishbowl was divided in two main groups, the “stay” one leaded by Vicky Tarnana, owner and manager of the Youth Hostel “Little Big House”, and the “go” one represented by Leonidas Karapanos, young doctor emigrated for joining a scientific research team in Germany.

“ I decided to stay and keep fighting for my dreams” said Vicky. After having spent some years in UK she decided to come back and to start her entrepreneurship. She felt the homesickness during her staying abroad, she missed her family and her culture, for these reasons she preferred to return back home and to fight with bureaucracy in order to realize her dream. “Who decide to stay has to proof his willingness on transforming this decision from an obligation to a choice of freedom” affirms Vicky.

Very different was the opinion of Leonidas about the opportunity to emigrating: “ I am among those who decided to leave as soon as they could”, he said. Leonidas has 29 years old, he graduated in medicine in Greece and then decided to move to Germany. Behind his choice to leave his country there was the willingness to increase his professional competences in medical research, a field that in central government provisions has found little space due to European Union austerity measures. If on the professional ground Leonidas has never experienced lack of respect, on the social one the situation was more complex: “ I was surprised when, by speaking with acculturate German people, I discovered that in Germany there was a superficial approach to Greek situation” – he affirmed – “I have felt social racism on my skin” Living abroad can be an interesting opportunity but sometimes it happens to face with stereotypes and narrow minds.

“Despite all I suggest to young Greeks to study as much languages as they can and to leave, trying to integrate themselves really in the hosting country. We live in the technological era, homesickness can be easily won”. But what are the problems that a young Greek meets entering in the labor market? According to Faye Orfanou, lawyer and co-founder of AELIA working life lab, they are mainly four: the little job demand due to the fulfillment of the labor market, low wages, difficulties on professional improvement, bureaucracy. “Travelling! It opens your mind! It is not necessary to go abroad, you can do it also in your country and , with the help of the social networks, it can become global”, Faye says.

The experience of Sotirios Stampoulis recalls Faye’s suggestion. After having obtained his degree in European Studies, in 2009 Sotirios found himself in the middle of the protests against the austerity measures but something was not working, he tells: “I became aware that I should have look further than just demonstrating in the streets”. It pushed him to start “Artivist4change’, a project focused on new and alternatives protesting ways related to the social media. “There is not a black or white solution, the answer is inside a great variety of grays. I want to stay here in Greece and I hope that in future young people will do the same trying to find opportunities for their future”.

And you? Will you stay or will you go?

Michela Sartini



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