It’s the Everyday Things

Heritage Greece has always been about offering experiences. What one might find trivial, could be the most exciting for another. Yesterday, the participants had the opportunity to experience a Greek laiki, spend time with the Mayor of Athens, George Kaminis, and learn about social and digital initiatives to improve life in Athens.

The laiki, or market, usually takes place once a week per area, and it has everything. From plants to clothes, and fresh grocery to fish, the laiki is a bustling place. Filled with all kinds of smells of fresh produce, loud shopkeepers shouting “fresko, fresko” (it’s fresh, it’s fresh!), trying to persuade you that “their” produce is better, it’s the true embodiment of every day Greek life. It’s where the whole neighborhood meets, catches up on weekly news, and shares their joys and sorrows.

Bustling with people and full of energy, it was a fascinating experience. Alex Assimoglou was particularly impressed. “Grecian hospitality comes alive at the local farmers market. Merchants are both helpful and friendly when introducing you to the freshest produce Greece has to offer. Just a smile can land you a complimentary piece of fruit. This outing was an unexpected contrast to American customs regarding purchasing fruits and vegetables.”

Leaving the market behind, participants headed to the center of town, to the prestigious town hall of Athens. They were given a tour, then lead in to the main conference area, where they met Mayor of Athens, George Kaminis. Taking time out of his busy schedule, he was warm and cordial, bonding instantly with the participants as he had a connection to the United States, being born in Brooklyn.

He inquired about Heritage Greece, to which Art Dimopoulos, Executive Director of the National Hellenic Society, explained the scope and ambition of the program. The Mayor then opened up the floor to questions, which came flooding in as participants wanted to know about how the city of Athens deals with issues, such as graffiti, the homeless, and refugees, under the shadow of the economic crisis. When asked how Athens, and Greece in general, was able to keep it together, he answered “it’s the family bonds,” something Greek-Americans know well, and will be able to experience the Greek version tomorrow, at the Host Family Dinner.

Having to leave to attend a meeting, the mayor stood for a group picture and parted ways with the participants, who went on to visit an inspiring initiative. Housed in the same building, the Athens Partnership and the Athens Digital Lab aim to bring innovation to aspects of everyday Athenian life.

Natalie Weeks, Strategy and Partnerships Director for Athens Partnership, explained that the Athens Partnership serves as a technological hub and liaison to the Municipality of Athens, bridging the private and public sector, creating opportunities, particularly for the Greek youth that still sees incredibly high unemployment rates. Right behind her was the workshop of Maker Space, a recently opened workshop that allows students of primary, secondary, and senior schools to experience the latest technological advancements, ranging from 3D printing to virtual reality experiences.

The Athens Digital Lab, aids the digital transformation of Athens, by investing, researching, and creating innovative ways to enhance the lives of Athenians. Antonis Papadopoulos, Project Manager, and Konstantinos Hampidis, Chief Digital Officer of the Athens Municipality, took the time to present what Athens Digital Lab is, allowing participants to gain insight on digital governance.

Alex Teplitz was interested and optimistic about the initiatives he saw. “I believe the initiatives will be instrumental to the revival of Athens. It is important to advance the city technologically, and, as a whole, to improve the quality of life. Even the smallest sector should not be left behind.”

To end the day off, participants travelled through rainy Athens, a rare sight it must be said, back to Aghia Paraskevi to attend Greek Culture Seminar by Dr. Katsas.

Join us tomorrow for a very special, family-oriented, edition of the blog. It’s host family night!


You can just smell the freshness at the laiki!


Mayor of Athens, George Kaminis, poses with the Heritage Greece Participants.

The-Athens-Partnership-and Athens-Maker's-Lab-bridge-private-and-public-sector

The Athens Partnership and Athens Maker’s Lab bridge private and public sector.


Participants learning about digital innovation at Athens Digital Labs.

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