Kafedaki with Effie Spilioti

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Effie Spilioti was born and raised by her Greek parents in Chicago, educated abroad and then finally, moved back to Greece where she now practices law. She is committed to helping Greeks in Greece as well as Greeks abroad through her SPN Law firm in Athens- where along with her colleagues provides all-round legal support to Greek and foreign legal entities and individuals with activities in Greece, Europe and worldwide. GCT recently had a chat to Effie about her upbringing in America and her legal services to the Greek Omogenia on issues pertaining to Greek Law.

What is your line of work?

I am a lawyer in Athens. Upon completing my legal studies in Greece and England, I initially worked in law firms and later on as a legal counsel to multi-national corporations and Greek banks. Along with this work, I continued to provide legal advice to ex-patriate Greeks mainly on legal issues regarding their property in Greece.

Recently, along with two other lawyers, we created  SPN Law Offices. We have found the fact that we have all lived abroad, either to study or as a member of an immigrant Greek family like myself, has enabled us to have a better understanding of the needs of the Greek Omogenia when dealing with issues of Greek law.

Where were you born and where do you live now?

I was born and raised in Chicago and currently live in the Agia Paraskevi area of Athens.

What part of Greece are your ancestors from?

My ancestors are from the beautiful island of Cephalonia where my family and I continue to vacation every summer.

When did you move back to Greece and why?

We moved to Greece immediately after I finished high school in Chicago. Like many other families of immigrants, my parents had the dream of returning to Greece after their retirement and I followed them.

Why do you consider it important to be able to help Greeks all around the world?

The importance of Greeks helping other Greeks was shown to me from a young age by my parents. Greeks of the Omogenia were able to prosper outside their homeland not only because they worked hard, but also because the members of the Greek communities greatly supported one another. Although these Greeks might have individually excelled with their businesses and in educating their children, at the same time they were also united as a community in order to preserve the traditions and values of their Greek heritage. These are the ideals that are important for all Greek to uphold, especially in this time of financial crisis in Greece. Let us not forget that history has repeatedly shown us that the Greek spirit can overcome adversities, adapt and succeed.

In your experience, what are the biggest issues Greeks in Greece are facing?

The hardships of living during the economic crisis.  It is true that the lives of many families have been dramatically affected from the crisis in Greece and young professionals have relocated to other countries. There have been many austere reforms and jobs are difficult to find. In spite of this, I find that now, more than ever, there are many young Greek professionals who are determined, hard-working and hoping for a better future. The financial crisis here has caused many to become adaptable to the new situation and in certain ways it has brought out the best in us. During the past few years we have seen that there have been innovative ideas and businesses especially in the fields of tourism, energy and the export of local agricultural goods. These businesses would greatly benefit from the support of our worldwide Greek community and it is important that we all should have a unified approach on promoting Greek products and services to the global marketplace

What do you aspire to achieve through your work?

Working is not only a means of making a living but also an opportunity of teaching our children the value of diligent work.

What inspires you?

The hope and aspiration of a child describing the future.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on creating a periodic newsletter for ex-patriates and Greeks of the Omogenia, which addresses the legal issues that are commonly dealt with here in Greece.

Do you feel like you have two ‘patrides’?

Being exposed to two cultures has not been easy. When you are exposed to two cultures it is inevitable that you compare them to each other. Adjustment has been an ongoing process especially in these times of financial crisis. I always try to focus on what each culture has taught me and apply these positive aspects to my everyday life.

How has your upbringing influenced the work you do today?

I always believed that my upbringing in an immigrant family, watching them succeed through hardships and limited resources, has guided me and even assists me today in adapting to the insecurity of the current situation in Greece. If there is one thing that I learned from my parents as immigrants, it is the importance of perseverance, hard work and “ethos” in all aspects of life. These are the traditional values that are common in all Greek immigrants, whether they are in the United States, Australia or other countries.

Aside from your family what other Greeks have influenced you?

I am influenced by the philanthropy I see every day in many Greeks towards others in need during the financial crisis.

What is one piece of ancestral advice you remember to this day?

To work hard, concentrate on your own success and not to be envious of others. There is a time and place for everyone to succeed.

What is your favourite Greek food?

Of course that would have to be the traditional Cephalonian dish of ‘kreatopita” !

*For more information spnlaw.gr

Gina Mamouzelos

Gina is a third generation Greek Australian who grew up immersed in her Greek heritage, including the language, traditions, culture and listening to her grandparent’ mesmerising tales about life in Greece. Passionate about ensuring the Greek language is not forgotten among the younger generations, in 2002 she became a panel member on the SBS Greek radio show ‘Let’s Talk Openly.' She graduated with a Media and Communications degree from the University of Sydney and has put her lifelong passion for writing to use working in social media, public relations and advertising. Gina now joins GCT's team as a writer.

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