Saturday, February 11, 2012

Athens is heating up!

View of the Parthenon from the Acropolis.

 The church right on my street in Pangrati!
Quite a lot has happened since I last posted. I'm sure if you're following the news you've seen television footage or read articles concerning the latest proposed austerity measures in Greece as well as the severe discontent.  The violence that erupted yesterday was surreal for me.  I awoke to the sound of chanting and shouting from Syntagma Square, and later that day, when I got out of class, there were hundreds of videos online of the violence happening just eight minutes away.  My roommate's teacher took her class on a walk through the demonstration in the morning at 11, and I guess it was a very cool experience for them.  Apparently protests are a natural way of life in Greece, and the old and young showed up.  Unfortunately, this demonstration inevitably escalated in the afternoon to something I would imagine is similar to Modern Warfare 2.  The one thing that is so interesting to me here is that the police have almost no authority. They cannot legally use their guns unless they are shot at first, and you can imagine how this rule has affected how the anarchists view the police.  What results is what we see on the news in the states, Molotov cocktails being thrown by men and women in all black, gates being broken, etc.  Although yesterday I was pretty freaked out, most of my fears have been subsided.  While it seems from the video footage and news articles that the whole city is in flames, in reality, the very small area of Syntagma Square is the only area affected by the violence. When there are marches through the other large areas of the city small things might break out but most groups reserve their big ticket demonstrations for Syntagma in front of the Parliament.  In my Modern History and Culture of Athens class we've been talking about how national identity was formed when Greece became independent around 1831.  It has been so amazing to be in a class where we are actively studying the history and culture of a nation which is experiencing such extreme changes in the present. It has been especially valuable for me as a student of the Classics, because I never realized how much the Modern Greek identity has been affected by their classical past.  This week on Tuesday the whole school is going on a four day trip to the Peloponnese, which is the southwestern region of Greece, including Kalamata, Corinth, Nauplion, and Olympia.  I'm really excited to revisit some of the sites and towns I went to through the Willamette Post-session like Mycenae, Nemea, and Nauplion.  When I return I'll post about how the trip went and give an update on the state of Athens!!  

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