My name is Irene Angeliki and I’m 15 years old. I’m from Volos, where I was born and raised.
Volos is famous for Jason and his Argonauts and Mount Pelion – the mythological homeland of Chiron the Centaur, tutor of many ancient Greek heroes.
It is a city that will enchant you with its natural beauty and history, managing to perfectly combine nature, tradition and culture.
I arrived in Australia seven months ago.
My story began when I was at scouts camp, with a phone call from my mum.
She called me saying that she applied through the government to work abroad as a Greek language teacher, and in October, the Ministry of Education approved her three-year secondment.
So earlier this year in January, my mum and I left our country for the country of the Aboriginals, leaving behind my dad and brothers, relatives and friends.
By coming here, my mum and I join those who want to experience something different, exploring the unknown to discover something new, gaining experiences and grabbing every opportunity, ensuring a better tomorrow for our family – that is our purpose.
Having only each other, we found a share room within a week – a place to call home. We lived there for three months, and I was enrolled in Oakleigh Grammar. The week after we arrived, I started Year 10, which I had already begun in Greece.
The adjustment was sharp and a great wave of difficulties lay ahead.
In the struggle for survival in an unknown place coexists the hope for a better future and nostalgia for the homeland; it is difficult to leave a life of intense routine, even if you hate it.
I cannot deny that I still feel like my life is at home in Greece, and there are some moments that I am sure I will not be able to live in this country, but now I have found some rhythm.
Leaving my teachers at the Music School of Volos, everyone said that I would adapt easily. They said I would have new experiences that would open my horizons and meet another world.
On the one hand they were right, but on the other, they were not – the adjustment was not easy.
I do not have friends to hang out with, but I don’t seek them out because I came here with a purpose.
All my friends are in Greece and even though we communicate almost every day, it is not the same. They are not here with me and their warm hug is far away.
I have them in my mind, because they have their own struggles to cope with the demands of school.
But I have my mum at my side, of whom I am very proud because she made a difficult decision that few would make and that is worthy of admiration.
She is a true hero, a true model of a teacher.
We’re always next to each other, our bond as mum and daughter growing stronger, while we think of my dad and brothers, Apostolis and Constantinos.
Unfortunately, the economic crisis divides many families every day, but our family is standing proud and smiling, even though we are miles away.
Greek people never kneel in difficult times, and I am a proud Greek that will never bend her head.
After seven months of difficulties, I managed to get a scholarship for the Melbourne Theatre Company.
Always staying faithful to my purpose and having Volos in my mind, I want to make Greece proud even though I am so many miles away from my country.
Every day I feel a tangle of emotions; on the one hand I feel sorry that I cannot be in Greece, but on the other hand I feel relieved because now I feel like I hold the future in my hands.
I hope when I grow up, with God’s help, that I will be able to stand on my own two feet and see all dreams begin to take colour.
I want to help my country – the mother of civilisation – and as a child of the bourgeoisie, to strive towards my dreams, my own expectations, without fear and insecurity.
Regarding immigrants or refugees arriving in Greece, I can say that they too are people, people who want to live. In the turmoil of their homeland, they abandon their homes and pay a price to be saved.
Each of these people carries their own history, desires, damaged dreams and hopes.
History repeats itself, as many say.
Similar images filled with blood of Greek history come alive in front of our eyes; Greeks from unforgettable homelands had experienced the same horror and today yearn hopelessly for their distant homelands of Pontus and Asia Minor, on the other side of the Aegean.
Nowadays, Greece is bleeding from the exodus of the Greeks, who are immigrants to other countries for a better tomorrow and it is a bridge for many others looking for the best tomorrow.
So much pain, so many people, so much misery in my already wounded country.
Who is to blame for all of this? Perhaps one day instead of blaming other countries and bombarding them, we will take the situation into our own hands and help those people for a better future.