Description: My story began 40 years ago in a city that used to be the center of an ancient civilization, whose name derives from the ancient Greek goddess Athena. I was born and raised in Athens. It is funny, but the name of the street where the maternity clinic used to be is the same with my last name. The notorious street was not named after me but most likely after the great Greek general whose last name we shared. I have used this coincidence as a practical joke on friends and others, whenever we pass from the area where the hospital used to be. I am always curious to see their reaction about my prestigious street name! For the first 10 years of my life, I lived in downtown Athens, an area with a large population, as well as other undesirable living conditions. My parents' apartment used to be my small Paradise. From the age of 5, I had converted our home’s living room into a small theater. I used to recruite my younger sister to participate in these activities. From a very young age I had the passion to be innovative, that was something that my parents did not always agree with, since the results of this passion affected our living conditions. Imagine that my mother for couple of years could not even invite guests to the apartment. The stage of my theater was blocking the main entrance. The theater venture was a creative, innovative and a very amusing experience for me. This lasted a couple of years, as many years as it took me to start my next adventure in radio. The reason for doing it all, was the great fulfillment of communicating with many people without any limitations. I think you’re already getting the hint; we’re talking about amateur radio. During that time, public radio was a government controlled monopoly in Greece and any private broadcast ventures were illegal. There were already many other radio amateurs on the Greek airwaves, but my presence belonged to the last era of the romantics of amateur pirate radio. It was of great fun to organize and do everything by yourself. From building the radio transmitter up to being the host of the show. I remember that while in high school the kids were rushing to go back home in order not to miss our radio show which had great audience participation and provided a great deal of fun. Although I was arrested in the summer of 1985 for operating an illegal radio station, I started operating again after a month of rest. Fortunately that was my first and last offense which made my father very happy. The years passed, I finished high school and I was ready to take the entry exams to the Greek University. You see in Greece education is provided for free to the people by the Greek Government and in that way there are no private institutions that offer degrees which are recognized by the Greek Ministry of Education. I was one of the "victims" of the this entry exam system that most of the Greek people dispute. As I often think, I was lucky that I didn’t enter the Greek University. The options at that time were few. Most likely I would have succeeded in the engineering school and I would try to get my feet wet without even knowing how to swim. Since I was inspired by my radio experience, I finally went to one of the few of that time private institutions and studied broadcasting. My college years were fun and I was able to get my BA in 3 and a half years, right on time to start another adventure. In the meantime, I was working as a DJ for a number of popular radio stations, since the private radio was by then already a reality in Greece. During my undergraduate studies, I could have never imagined that sometime I would go and live abroad. I was always staying with my family and doing my own thing! Upon entering my 20’s, different things started stimulating my mind. I started to wonder if I had a future in Greece, or somewhere else on the planet. I had tried a couple of things but nothing seemed fulfilling as the old pirate radio days. Radio started to be congested and very commercialized in Athens. The idea was there! With my fathers' encouragement and my mothers' concern, I applied and was accepted to a graduate program in London, England, to study Communication and Radio. I went there and completed in one year this program, which actually seemed to be too easy of a challenge for me. I can’t deny of course that the challenge of finding the unknown personal initiative was still there, but I had to move on. London is a fine city but it is still Europe, and for me as a Greek-European citizen was and always is easy to be there. On the other hand, I needed something like a more liberal environment to function properly. OK, the sequence of things is evident. Right now I am writing about a new challenge and fulfillment of goals. After the radio and the British experience I needed to try something different. That was like saying, "USA here I come." I think that’s exactly how it actually happened. In less than 2 months after my graduation from London, I decided and moved to Boston where I started another graduate Masters program in Mass Communication and Television Production. The new medium of television seemed to be very challenging, promising great excitement. I had experienced radio and I was ready to move to television, the golden medium. Don’t ever think that I had a passion to be in front of a camera. I always wanted to be behind it, actually that is where most of the fun is. I had two very exciting and promising years at the Emerson College of Boston, which gave me a lot of knowledge to use in the future. Also as an international city, Boston was very easy for me to adopt to and not think of my homeland, Greece. Just before my graduation from Emerson, I participated in a two week Hollywood program which introduced me to the West Coast lifestyle. Since then my watch is still showing LA time! My coast to coast moving was very well organized. As a sucker for traveling, I couldn’t but take the chance and enjoy to its fullest this cross country experience. I recruited my best buddy in Boston and his brother who had come to visit him from London, and I asked them to join me on this traveling expedition. In the middle of the winter, right after coming from Greece from my Christmas vacation, I rented a UHAUL trailer which I pulled behind my car and drove to LA. Within 5 days I saw places I never imagined of seeing before. From the snows of Ohio, to the dessert scenery of northern Texas. Even when I drove from London to Athens right after graduating from post-graduate school, I never saw such a variety of landscape. The trip was very good, excluding a small accident with the trailer on the first day of our journey. Upon passing through the California border, I had no idea about what was going to follow. I had arranged an internship with MTV and that was it. I was pretty excited about that, but I also had many other things in my mind about my new living environment. The first couple of months in LA were critical, realizing important things about my future. I started meeting new people at the many places I went. I had to adopt to a different lifestyle. As they say, California is a different world, it is not a representative sample of the US. As for me everything was new, but I wasn’t scared. I slowly realized that I couldn’t stay with MTV forever. The internship at the post production department of MTV’s "Real World", introduced me to this strict television standard, work which didn’t give the space I was used to when producing video projects at my college in Boston. I also saw that there were not many positions available that I could take in this department. In the meantime, my work permit started, and I had to find a full time job in this industry. That was actually the reason that I came from Boston to work in Hollywood’s show-biz. I easily got a job as production assistant in a film production company in Hollywood. My experience there was really important and made me realize that I didn’t want to work close to this very commercial industry. Although I never thought I would change my route to another field, my basic interaction with the world of computers and the global Internet, gave me a reason in wanting to try this field. The Internet as a new medium had and has a great number of promising opportunities. I finally left from this production company and I joined the force of a small at the time internet provider in LA. The future will show the speed of growth of the Internet business relating to my new exciting passion for creativity and innovation with this new exhilarating super-medium. That’s my job, an internet marketing "guru", a person that has to follow all the new technological trends and help the senior management in deciding the right moves for the company’s expansion and profit. This job gives me also the opportunity to use my media production background in the global environment of the World Wide Web which fascinates me so much. I find myself now, more than ever, before following the path of the 2nd millennium and moving with all the people together into the world of speed and communication. Even though I can’t help but think about Greece and particularly my family, I always keep in mind my future and how it is going to develop from one day to the next. My life in Greece or anywhere else is something that will eventually happen as a result of my actions. The promise for living my life to its fullest, is always there, inside your and my mind, and that’s what I want to do!
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Greek Connection
Credit: Dr. Roland Holou / DiasporaEngager


 



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