International Heritage: an Athenian

Joanna Simos Assistant Director, Experiential Education


June 30, 2016

This has been an exciting week at the arcadia center as we welcomed  Hillis, our junior intern, to the team. A native of Athens, Hillis tells us what it is like to be a multicultural Athenian.

 I’ve lived in Greece for nearly all of my life, but I don’t speak fluent greek. When I go to the US every summer they say I sound British. When I go to England they say I sound American. I’ve invented a phrase to describe my predicament.

International baby: Someone who has four or more citizenships.

I have a greek ID, an American passport, a British passport and canadian citizenship. This is mostly due to my parents who made sure they got me to every embassy they could when I was a baby. By the age of one I was already a multinational citizen.

I was born in England but by the age of two I had already moved to Greece and its now what I call home. But it doesn’t always feel like home. Sometimes Chicago, where i go to visit my grandparents every summer, feels like home. Sometimes New mexico, where i’ve spent whole summers hiking and backpacking across the southwest, feels like home. But they didn’t feel like home at the start. They were new and strange to me, but as I learned more about them and the traditions and values that they held dear, I started to want these places to be my home.

It’s these multiple homes, or lack thereof of a single home that has introduced me to so many different cultures and backgrounds. I’m a foreigner wherever I go. Which means people treat me like a foreigner. They teach me about their culture and traditions and I listen fervently absorbing all the information I can, so as to better understand their way of life. Which in turn helps me understand my way of life. As I don’t really feel intertwined with any one culture, I can learn from each one and better myself accordingly.

Our perception of the world can be seen through the glasses that are the society we live in. If we open ourselves up, through visiting and living in other cultures and societies, we can start to see the world as it truly is. It can’t hurt can it?