President of the ‘Greece 2021’ Committee, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, was the special guest at the second Hellenic Initiative Australia Digital Conversation Series event, which took place earlier this week.
Ms Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who was joined by Greek Australian journalist John Mangos, discussed a range of topics including next year’s the bicentenary commemorations.
"In 46 countries around the world, there are Greeks who want to celebrate, to remember where we come from and most importantly how we can keep working into the future to keep our memories alive, our history alive and how you, the diaspora, can play such an important role," the Ambassador-at-large of the Hellenic Republic said.
She also reminisced over her time in Australia during the Olympic Games in 2000. “I remember running with the Olympic flame in Australia and I saw the Greek and Australian flags and I was very proud. Australia felt like a home away from home."
Ms Angelopoulos-Daskalaki also told viewers that the ‘Greece 2021’ Committee has received over 1,800 event proposals from around the world with 36 from Greek-Australians, which include an exhibition of Greek Australian artists, dinner talks, book launches, a Greek cruise ship concept in Sydney to Perth, a Greek Writers Festival and even a photo exhibition.
“The Greek diaspora in Australia keep the Greek history alive and this is what we want for our 2021 celebrations… You will also be the ones who will put out the message that we are proud Greeks and pass on the torch around the world.”
“Because of the ten year crisis that happened in Greece, we decided we don’t want state funding. That was a kind of important decision," she said, adding that the Committee is relying on private donations, sponsorships and selling merchandise, such as the 2021 commemorative coin, to make these proposals possible.
When asked by Mr Mangos how the events will go ahead with the constantly changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms Angelopoulos-Daskalaki responded that "We are good organisers. We have very good experience from the Olympic Games... and we understand the importance of Plan A, Plan B and Plan C."
“In the end, it’s not just one big opening ceremony. The whole year is important. It’s a time to think, reflect, dance and perform.”
The Ambassador-at-large of the Hellenic Republic has a message for the Greek Australian diaspora: "You have the task, the obligation, to make yourselves well-known in Australia and around the world. Because of your resilience, because of your hard work and because of the way you carry with you this unique past history and tradition. You are the ones who will put the message all around the world - that we are proud Greeks and of course we serve and honour the country we live in."
She hopes Greece 2021 would give all Greeks, young and old, in Greece and the diaspora, a chance to be inspired by the Greek revolution to seek a better Greece.
Referring to The Hellenic Initiative, Ms Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said she is very proud of the organisation. "I know what your organisation has done and has offered so far. You have to be very proud because you supported Greece and Greeks through many ways. Believe me, you are very much appreciated here in this country."
On her part, Helen Zorbas, THI Australia Board Member, thanked Ms Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. "We have had some extraordinary and valuable insights from you, which have inspired our reflections."
"You turn ideas into actions because you have a strategic vision and we hear your energy and commitment and perhaps Cretan determination."
Ms Zorbas also thanked her for inspiring us all, in particular young women leaders. "I have no doubt we will have a successful bicentenary program of events with you at the helm, but I'm also feeling much more confident about the road ahead for Greece and the Greeks in Australia are supportive and committed to the efforts."
This winter help spread the warmth.
The Hellenic Initiative Australia has launched an online Winter Appeal to support people in Greece facing severe hardship over the coming months.
Funds raised will assist THI Australia’s trusted partner charities in Greece, which face additional challenges supporting the vulnerable and the destitute during the pandemic.
The Winter Appeal for Greece will help organisations such as Emfasis Foundation provide basic necessities and support services to people at risk during this winter, including sleeping bags, hygiene products, face masks, sanitiser, SIM cards, food vouchers and access to psychological support.