Proud to be part of Cynthia Tzitzis’ successful first photo/documentary exhibition.
This is her work, this is her passion, these are the testimonials of those who trusted their ‘faces’ to her lens, literally and metaphorically.
She represents a whole generation…Well done for your work Cynthia – We salute your talent!
The following art pieces can be found on the www.cynthiatzitzis.com
I left Greece 5 years ago. I didn’t take much with me. Only my thirst for new experiences. I decided to leave, as I wanted to take a step further in my career and chase my dreams. I still remember my last day in Athens: I went out with my friends and I just couldn’t stop smiling. I really like London but my heart is still in Greece. I try to fly out as often as possible as I miss the sun, the sea and my family. I wish the circumstances were different and that I will have the chance to return at some point in the future. London is sometimes tough. You need to be very strong and patient in order to achieve your goals. It takes such a hard work but it’s definitely worth it. In 10 years from now I hope I’ll have a happy family and a good job in London, in Athens, wherever. All that matters to me is to be happy.
Αlexia Souferi / International Production Manager
I gave the last suitcase decisively. The woman at the airport counter was at first impressed with my three large suitcases.
If only I knew then how many bullshit I was carrying for about 2800 km. Then the woman unlocked the Sherlock in her, at the very moment where he clears the picture and solves the mystery.
“The company made you an offer with the money you asked” told me the recruiter. In two weeks I had to empty a fully furnished house, sell my car of only two months and make a decision to cut the crap.
“You are moving!” the woman said enthusiastically. “Good luck” she wished to me. How many wishes of the kind did she have to give every day? Three years ago I would look for excuses not to go, I would set irrational limits and barriers until all my requirements were met. And now? I could not go back.
There is no going back in life. No matter how many lies I tell myself, there is no going back. You may turn but you cannot go back. Most people move in circles, we only see what is around ourselves. We put ourselves into an orbit around habits, people, places. We light another cigarette, order another drink, another skewer, watch a sunset, we want to repeat, we love the routine. Problems occur with those who come out of their set orbits. They go knocking over others who are still rotating. Away from a track. Off road. Contrary to what was in order for them. This alone makes me smile. I choose to be happy. And the future is now.
Harry Lymperopoulos / Digital Consultant
I left Athens on March 2012 taking everything but my heart. The night before I couldn’t think anything, I just stared at the ceiling. I decided to leave for my own ambition and pride. I miss the colors, the smell of the air… Where do I see myself in 10 years? I live for the moment.
Nothing can be taken for granted in life. I don’t think about the tomorrow nor the yesterday.
An advice for anyone who is thinking about coming to London? Count your choices and be ready to support your decisions with passion.
Take this step only if you have answered yourself the following question: “What if I never return? “.
Petros Apergis / Sales & Marketing Manager
First thing that comes to mind when I’m coming back from Greece is: “Where is my sister and my friends?” and I always observe how long is going to take me to get used to their absence this time. For better and for worse, every time it takes me less and less time as my survival instinct takes over. Along with my profound need not to hate the country where I was brought up. Along with all these conditions that keep me here. Conditions that hold hope for a better life: peace of mind, consistency, respect, the perspective of a future, the Metropolis of London and the wide open window to the world it is. I’m not sure where I’ll be in 10 years from now. I no longer believe in the ideas of residency and permanence. I feel that when it comes down to survival ‘how’ is more important than ‘where’. People around me try to convince me that I’m lucky not to be living in Greece anymore. I suppose they are ignorant of the fact that in life one never has everything one wants. I suppose they attribute more than they should to the factor of luck. I suppose their father never taught them what my father taught me:
luck is this highly personal condition that can be built or be demolished at will.
Vassiliki Dogkaki / Psychologist
I left Greece when I was 18 in order to benefit from a more structured academic system. Upon completing my studies, I got a job straight away, a chance that I couldn’t pass up. I always thought that I would go back after acquiring 2-3 years of work experience. Never did it cross my mind that 14 years later I would still be here. Partly because of the perks of a well-organized society that respects its citizens, partly because of the demise of Greece during the past few years, I became a Londoner. Obviously every Christmas and summer holidays that I go back, my first thought is always “My God how beautiful my birthplace is!”. That is of course until the first disappointment comes along because of the countless ‘Greek malfunctions’ which make me end up saying “I am so lucky to be living in London”’.
Tatiana Lampridi / Architect
I was born in Scotland, grew up in Greece, studied in England, I have a ‘‘to and from’’ thing going on with this country, the door is always open. That’s how it is with dual nationalities: you belong everywhere, yet nowhere 100%. This time, being fed up with everything is what pushed me away from Greece. Professional difficulties, constant moaning. After arriving in the UK I felt lighter, saw the return of my optimistic happy-self. Welcome back, we missed you! I dive into multi-culturalism. People from everywhere, all with their own experiences and stories. Your mind opens up, you get to travel without even stepping on to a plane. Then summer comes, reminding you of what you really miss. I accept this; it is after all part of my choice. In any case my summer holidays will find me in Greece! I’m not here as a matter of luck, it’s a choice. And along with that choice, the sacrifices that follow. I think about what I gain from being here, what I love, not what I leave behind. After all, you can never have it.
Sophia Tsekoura / HR Professional
When I left Greece five years ago, I took with me two big suitcases. As I travelled and time passed, I began to shed most of the stuff I had with me. It was becoming heavy. Today I have only the most essential: the blue sea, some white jasmine, one yellow melon, and three stuffed red tomatoes. I feel lighter and stronger. I choose and add to my suitcase items from other civilizations and cultures that I have found on my way. I am a citizen of the world and my home is the earth.
Sofia Tsekoura / Theatre Producer & Digital Services Project Manager
I have been asked so many times and wondered myself how I can live in a place with so little ‘blue’. London is a city with an almost permanently grey sky that hides however an extremely colourful spectrum of faces, languages, food, music, theatre, painting… It is a multi-coloured mosaic of images, smells and sounds from all over the world that accepts and embraces everything different and new.
Hemingway was referring to Paris but I feel the same way about London every time I come back:
‘We always returned to it no matter who we were or how it was changed or with what difficulties, or ease, it could be reached.
London was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it.’ (Ernest Hemingway, ‘A Moveable Feast’)
Chryssa Kasma / Musician
To uproot (=To move (someone) from their home or a familiar location or their roots)
Action that results in:Frenzy. Discord. Hurt. Promise. And one leaves for the promise. For that promise…
And one learns to adjust. And you blossom, and you feel alive, because you break away from the predetermined canvas and color outside the lines. And that is true wealth.
Of course, I captured in pictures and in my memories the Greek Blue of the Aegean, the Greece of the Greats, my loved ones, the taste of Feta and stuffed tomatoes, the aroma of basil, the feel of salt on the skin, the tickle in my ears from the Greek language…And as I walk the streets and sometimes hear people speak Greek I perk up. I turn my head and I smile. And even if I don’t say a word, I find peace. I realize that I am not alone. We are many. And we are creating many small versions of a Great Greece all over the world. I am often asked where I come from. I want to blurt out “From Paradise” but instead I say with a steady voice “I am Greek”. And I always stress the “k” so as to leave little room for misunderstanding. To highlight the conviction and power that this dear “greek” bestows upon me.
All of me is Greece. I carry Greece with me, inside me, on me. Always. And of course here in the new beloved Big Metropolis.
PS. In my wallet, I always carry a folded piece of paper with an excerpt from Kazantzakis, which I read on a bad day; because bad ones exist as well.
“That’s why I work better and love Greece more when I am abroad. Far away from her I am better able to grasp her essence and her mission in the world, and thus my own humble mission. Something special happens to Greeks who live abroad. They become better. They take pride in their race, they feel that being Greeks they have the responsibility to be worthy of their ancestors. […] After so many centuries of invasion, slaughter and famine they should have disappeared. But the utopia, which has become faith, does not let them die.”
Eftychia Fragou / Journalist
With a view beyond the view: the sky that collapses the boundaries between ‘here’ and ‘there’, no matter where ‘here’ and ‘there’ might be.
With the sounds of cars being no different from the waves I listen to when I lie down in the summers.
With birds that come and go.
With trees that have silently observed millions of moments of movement. They have set deep roots, and have grown wise trunks and their branches have grown so far away that no-one knows anymore where they have reached.
With a sun that is there even when I cannot see it.
With thoughts about a country that is asked to satisfy the voyeuristic crowds with one more performance of ancient tragedy about dilemmas that have never ceased to trouble the human mind.
-I lose you, I find you. Are you there?
-Go, live, become!
Evangelia Laimou / Applications of Psychoanalysis
“I made up my mind, I’m going to leave!”. This is how I announced to my parents that I wanted to study in the UK. My uncle played an important part in this decision. He was a student at Oxford at the time and calmed my fears about a new start in a foreign country. Leaving behind my childhood and adolescence memories seemed hard, but the prospect of living on my own and testing my strengths on a multicultural environment was something that I always wanted to do. After all these years, I’ ve seen all of my efforts paying off, for which I feel lucky. Many things were as expected or even better. The people that are in my life, the satisfaction I get from work and getting to know people from all sorts of different cultures, which feels like travelling, make me even more happy about my choice. On the other hand, leaving friends and family behind, was the price I had to pay to make my dreams come true.
George Katsikas / Risk Technology
Every time I’m going back to Greece, I’m always excited: I’m going home. It hurts so much to be away from my friends and family.
Especially when important events happen in our lives. Events that I would never have thought that we’d miss.
Every time I’m there though and I’m facing the very same difficulties that made me go away, I miss my life in London. As a painful reminder of why I had to go in the first place. Although, it feels like I’m always carrying a box inside me. A box full of life experiences, scents and the strongest light.
This box opens up every summer to get filled with the scents of oregano, soil, basil, jasmine and the sea.
Scents that will keep me company through the remains of my time away…
Giannis Bekiaris / Artist
I have been travelling many years; as a student and later on, as a professional musician.
I always remember myself being impatient about my return in Greece.
Lately something has changed.
Following my goals and dreams, I decided to move to the UK.
I started over, leaving behind family and friends and within 3 years, I managed to feel London as my new home.
At the moment, I have achieved many of my goals and step by step I see my dreams getting alive again!
Kostas Kopanaris / Musician
My mind goes through my memories of the past. Even today, I am trying to understand, which thought upsets me the most and leads me to have no disposition at all to return to my home country.
Is it their careless actions, their irresponsible decisions without thinking of the immediate or the distant future?
In the age of 14, I discovered this place. I adored it.
Since I was young, I always thought that this country had a lot to offer me therefore I took the decision to depart at the age of 18. Ι left my country but at some point I went back. Αnd I left again without any hesitation.
One day I was walking down a street in London and for the first time I didn’t feel an outsider, lonely and threatened.
That moment I felt that the ultimate reconciliation just happened and a smile emerged on my lips while thinking:” this is my home”.
Kostas Strevlos / 3d Animator
Fifteen winters and fifteen summers have passed since the day I left behind Odyssea Elytis’ blue and Kostis Palamas’ sun. England has become my home, my family. It is the land that gave me opportunities and rewarded my hard work. England is the country where our most precious ‘belonging’ was born, our daughter! London tires us but also looks after us! Winter is long and numb but the first ray of spring’s sunshine brings tears to my eyes, as if my body responds to it “I thought you had forgotten about me…’.
I used to say that I wanted my children to grow up in Greece.
I still wish for the day when the land that I love will embrace us again and make us feel safe.
I am sorry Hellas that I am not there. I miss you every day…
Louisa Barry / Mezzo Soprano
There was no other choice for me. I left Greece to be with the woman I fell in love with.
I miss Greece. At night, under the dimming light of the North, I think of my beloved ones and I’d like my daughter to grow up amongst them, under the Greek sun, next to the Greek sea. “Wherever I go, Greece wounds me”. Indeed. Like the first and only love. Pure. Infantile. However, I came to love this country as well. The land of ‘adulthood’. More mature, more calm, more just. Less attractive, less passionate but consistent. I never forget. I hang upon, I’m in agony. I keep in touch with my beloved and secretly, I hope. I wish I could make both my beloved and my country proud. We have made an agreement… We will find each other again under August’s full moon… And I will let myself go there where the sea caresses the coast.
It is there where I will fall asleep. At home.
Christos Vernardos / Economist – Chartered Accountant
I waved goodbye for one more time to all these familiar faces and places, an integral part of me, what I call family.
So used by now, in being appart from all these or maybe not? I arrived in London the 25th of August 2015. I am still experiencing this shift inside me, a challenge that I willingly grabbed by the horns and accepted, as I believe in evolution in all sectors in this life, moreover in my work.
I am a guide dog mobility instructor for visually impaired people. Yes, I adore my job and want to be able to offer through it, at any given moment or place.
I try to live in the here and now, exactly like my dogs do in training.
Maybe this is the best lesson I’ve learned from them so far.
We all are visitors in this life anyways, just passing through, let us make the best out of it and leave our mark in every possible way.
Paris Diamantidis / Guide dog mobility instructor
Μy life can be measured in kilometers… with a guitar on my shoulders and all the music in it;.
An unbearable weight, at times. You offered to carry it for a while.
So, there we were, on the same road.
Making music, in London.
Pavlos Melas / Musician – Composer
When we remember past events, our minds are filled with snapshots that almost stand still, plucked and separated from the forward march of time. So, although London has been my home for a long time now, in a sense, I’ve never left Greece. My work is always imbued with childhood memories, riped young emotions, the smell of the dried lavender or even with the humid Mediterranean air. Such memories cross paths with the present; Brixton fish market or a fresh rose find their way in. It’s the combination of places, the here, there and everywhere, which I carry about with me. This is what makes home.
Rania Bellou / Artist
I was still a child, when my philosopher grandfather explained to me the meaning of intelligence (eufuia). The etymology of the world in ancient Greek is the ability to adapt. At the age of 18, with the love and support of my parents and with my own self-belief, I started studying in a foreign country, where everything was new for me and… I adapted. After 15 years of working in 5 different European countries, I have realised that I will always hold onto my Greek identity.
My job, my loving husband, my life are in London, whereas my heart and my spirit remain where I was born and grew up. By now I have learned how to balance between my two countries, because ‘when there is a will, there is a way’.
Ι don’t know and I would prefer not to know where I will be in the next 10 years, but my advice to the younger generation would be to be proud of their identity, to be passionate about life, travel a lot and pursuit their dreams in whichever country they decide to live.
Sophia Konstantopoulou-Papadopoulos / Communication Director
I remember quite a few year ago –or was it only just a few days- when we gathered at St Catherine’s yard. Early summer days, the city getting to its usual heat, with cold beers and mavrodafni wine. We were all young men and women, all of us asking the same questions, sharing the same fears, relying on the same hopes.
“Go!” said a friend; “We’ll miss you, but go. Better to regret something you did than beating yourself up for flinching”. And later on, a couple of years later, again time for a big decision: “Stay, don’t go back! Do what deep inside you know you want, and everyone will understand”.
Home is where the heart is; where the wife and your child are, your mother and sister, the good friends, your memories, your laughs and tears, the streets, the music, the scents and the shades you loved, you still love and resort to for comfort and to steal a breath from. How could anyone having two such homes be anything but lucky!
Thanasis Gavos / Journalist
Ι could sit for hours telling you the story of our life.
But since one picture is a thousand words, look again at the photograph that comes with the text.
The way you look at us and what you see of us, has to do more with your own experiences and perception and less with what is actually real.
Where we came from, where we met, how we arrived here, it doesn’t really matter. Our identity is constantly changing.
Our future is being made today based on what we choose, experiences as well as random incidents.
Manolis Mavrommatis / Network Engineer
Hyaesook Yang / Designer
Hello, my name is Paris. The photo you are looking at was taken at my home on the 21st of June, three months after my birth. As you can easily tell, I am the one in the middle between my dad Spyros and my mum Marina.
I have to admit that I am somewhat confused, but who isn’t nowadays? Maybe I am too small to understand but then again maybe not. In any case, I will share with you some of my thoughts. I have noticed that my mum and dad are talking differently when we are at home and when we are outside. I have come to understand that what they talk at home is called Greek and what they talk in public is called English. The faces on my parents’ mobiles also confuse me. They are constantly changing. Their voices are always cheerful and they keep telling me about Greece and how eager they are to meet me there. My mum as well talks about Greece and each time her eyes become bright. Bright like the light that sometimes comes through the windows when we open the curtains in the morning. Now, thinking about it… I do really wonder how many people are living in my parent’s mobiles. The people living there must be even smaller than me to be able to fit all in there.
Having said all that, I must say that I recently received my British Passport. Yet another reason for confusion, I assume that one can have more than one…. Mm….I need to remember to ask my parents. I assume also that the same applies to languages; one can speak more than one. I like both Greek and English and I hope that I will not have to choose.I am writing all these from Tinos island where I came for the first time when I was already 4 months old. I discovered that the sky is as bright as my mum’s eyes when she talks to me about Greece. I do wonder though when we are going back to England. I hope we will return soon as I miss the smell of the grass and the walks around the parks. My parents seem so calm in London but, also, so happy when in Greece.
I am happy just being with them… wherever that is.
Paris Kosmides / Son and grandson
I left because a very good job opportunity came up and it was attractive enough for me to decide to pursue it. However, even just the idea that someone would go abroad for work, at a time when pretty much everything was available to you in Greece, sounded pretty outrageous. Obviously today things are very different in Greece, but reactions tend to be equally polarized: now I am being told that I am lucky to be here and to not have to experience the pressure that our people in Greece have to endure. It feels really bizarre and it annoys me to hear that, especially in the last few years, as this kind of statement has become all too common for those of us who have left the country and made their life in some foreign land. I guess we have a very different definition for luck. Even us “foreigners” experience the Greek crisis, just not in the same way. The emotional transition from one country and everyday life to another is a challenge. You need patience, persistence and clear goals, especially in the beginning. My parents and my oldest friends may be in Athens still, but my life is in England. Which is why, when they now ask me if I ever think about going back to Greece at some point, not wanting to sound too absolute with my response, I say: “I am not planning to”.
Vassilis Korkas / Translation tutor
I left Greece about 4,5 years ago, March 2011. My birthday is in March so I had a birthday and farewell party in one. One of my best friends in Athens reminded me of that. London is a big black hole that sucks out your energy and at the same time, replenishes it by a hundred times. A colourful kaleidoscope not for the faint hearted. Greece is my childhood years and my parents, my friends, summertime, the sea. Also the place where I felt useless and hopeless for a very long time. I still feel like that as things have not changed but have become worse. London is my safe place and my home now. My everyday life is here and the truth is, we only have a story to tell when we visit Greece.
Arhondi Korka / Senior Project Manager in a LSP (Language Service Provider)