Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.

So, I am sitting at my desk still trying to decide what stance I should take on the riots and killing of a 15 year old teen.
Since the riots began in the early hours of Sunday morning, my emotions have been on a rollercoaster ride. I know how all this violence in a city which I love and adore, is making me feel, but as for the reasons why they are doing it, I am still trying to work out if I think its right or wrong. There is no doubt in my mind, that the killing of a 15 year old boy can never ever be justified. I look at my 15 year olds in my class, and want to huddle them all in to a corner, to block out the scenes of violence, and to let them everything will be ok. This image of strength that I was trying to project to my students, as well as, my point of view that in my classroom we do not discuss what is happening, but try to have fun learning English, was almost blown out of the water, when one my boys came in to class late because he had been up to Syntagma Square to join with the rioters and show his support. These kids are all so so angry at the way the state is run. I believe most people are well aware that Greeks are all very proud people but I now can see that they are totally fed up of living in a country with a corrupt government, where they all work so hard to sometimes no avail. Having said this, is this a reason to smash and burn people's businesses??
The other political topic which comes up is that of the police. Only last week in one of my classes the module was focused on accidents and emergency services. I was shocked when i asked what would happen, if the same situation in the book (a drugged up boy, who was comotose and bleeding) happened in Greece. In fact, this was taken from one of Bill Bryson's books, documenting how Danish people have a very low crime rate, and that they only have about 6 murders a year. We were discsussing this, and me kids told me that the police were more than likely to just walk over him and leave him there. In fact, when I asked what would you have to do to go to prison here, they told me you would have to murder someone. This was the only thing they could think of. Compare this to the English police, I am starting to realsie we should be thankful for our country. Not saying it doesnt have its oh so many faults, but what would happen if this took place in England?
From a more personal view point, my flatmate and I have found these last few days extremely difficult. Not able to understand the newspapers or reports about whats going on in our city, only being able to go on what BBC and CNN have to say on the matter, or relying on our dear Greek friends to reassure us. In fact, we found it more disconcerting that this had all began, when we were out in the middle of town dancing the night away. Even more frightening, was that I had wondered of to have a conversation with my boy on the mobile, and my friends didnt realise so couldnt find me. What if they couldnt find me and things had kicked of there?? I have now vowed, never, to wonder off when we are out ever again.
Saturday was also when I had finally started to feel happy in Greece. That things were going well, and that on reflection, yes it is hard being away from my boy, my family and my friends, but that actually the experience was so totally worth it. By Sunday, this feeling was gone, and all we could think about was when can we get the hell out of here.