New York.- By Vicki James Yiannias.
Perfectly in synch with and very much in the spirit of the “Let’s Go to Greece” campaign launched by the Greek News every spring/summer, The Next Generation Initiative (HelleNext), sponsors the prestigious leadership program, the Athens Fellowship, sending students to Greece for 3 weeks. The Athens Fellowship is the first leadership program of its kind for young Greek Americans.
This was the Athens Fellowship’s 5th year running, but the focus of this summer’s’ trip to Greece was completely new. As the launch team of a project titled, the “Reinventing Greece Media Project”, The Fellows were to get the pulse of modern Greece by interviewing public and community leaders, entrepreneurs and young risk-takers in different sectors seeking to reinvent Greece and then to invite a global audience into a continuing discussion about those efforts on www.reinventinggreece.org.
The website, which hosts their continuing reports along with stories coming from a network of contributors, has already led other Greek innovators and community activists to notice and reach out to the Project.
The Project allowed students and recent graduates at the beginning of their careers to gain a first-hand understanding of the challenges and potential in today’s Greece, and to connect with leaders and activists throughout Greek society, Aphrodite Boukidis, the dynamic Program Director of the “Reinventing Greece Media Project”, told the Greek News, “It is based on the unique approach of combining citizen reporting, mentorship, and partnership, and its most important feature is that young Greek-Americans are at the forefront of identifying and reporting stories, because youth-led journalism is one way the next generation can play a leading role in promoting new dialogue, change, and partnership.”
“The students hit the ground running when they arrived in Athens… they were amazing, says the Project’s lead mentor Dody Tsiantar, an adjunct professor of journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and experienced journalist and editor, “they jumped in and started working, producing readable and impressive stories in record time that are insightful and energetic, and I can only imagine what they could have produced with just a couple more weeks. I felt privileged to have been their mentor and adviser. And I’m proud of what they were able to accomplish in such a short time.”
A small sampling of the stories and reports that have been posted on the website: “Greek-Fatalism: A True Modern-Day Greek Tragedy” by Michael Nevredakis; “Small Business, Small Mind” by Nayia Moysidis; “Greece for sale–don’t even think about it” by Vasliki Mitrakos; “Equality is not a Joke” by Maria Romas; “Media in Greece are a mess, says one insider” by Chris Blake; “Greek Power Summit Day 2: Eye of the storm” by Julia Panayotou; “The party may be over for some—but apparently not all—Greeks” by Joseph J. Skarzenski.
“The stories, which cover a variety of topics from green energy to media coverage of the economic situation, look at the crisis with a fresh perspective gathered from on-the-ground reporting,” says Tsiantar, “The Fellows’ interviews with movers and shakers–government officials, parliamentarians, entrepreneurs and private investors, among others–provide a broad look at how different people in Greece view Greece, and how they hope Greece might be able to figure out ways to emerge from it, stronger.”
The debate was about issues and decisions affecting young Greek students and professionals, but working on the Project caused the Fellows to think about themselves, as well. They were able to leverage their professional skills and interests to “give back” to families and friends in Greece in this time of crisis, but working on the Project carried with it the desire of “gaining” something, as well. “… We want to experience Greece in a way that helps us both connect with our heritage and grow as young professionals with global perspectives,” says Bouikidis. “We ask ourselves: how can we help our peers, professional counterparts and friends who are trying to find and implement solutions to Greece’s challenges?”
“The Reinventing Greece Media Project is the answer to that”, says Bouikidis, rallying a community spirit of cooperation. “This Project was founded first and foremost on an effort to ask, listen, and understand. Whatever we build together moving forward can only be built on this foundation of understanding and communication. Whether you are Greek, Greek-American, a part of the larger Greek diaspora around the world, or just a friend of Greece, we invite you, and urge you, to join us.”
The “Reinventing Greece Media Project” has been entered in the Ashoka Changemakers citizen media competition.
Go to www.reinventinggreece.org for the Athens Fellows’ blogs, stories and video reports.
Go to: www.hellenext.org/registration/student.php to register as a Next Generation student. Registration as a Next Generation student is FREE.