Alexandra Angelopoulou

Alexandra is what the school’s director proudly calls an «exceptional case.» A Roma Gypsy, she is the mother of two children and had to revolt to become who she is today. She fell in love and married an Indian man, writes poetry and graduated from the Second Chance School in Acharnes two years ago. Do you still write poems? I don’t have time now. In the past, I wrote poems – or rather sounded them out in my head, because I didn’t know how to write. I watched my brother writing and I tried to do so as well. Up until 2002, I only wrote in capital letters and without any knowledge of spelling. A volunteer teacher helped me study, I took tests and I got an elementary school diploma. Gypsies did not go to school back then. Only the boys and even then only rarely. And of course, they stood out from the other children and were forced to drop out. How did you manage to turn the situation around? I always liked to ask questions, to learn, to help. There are women among my people who are 20 years old and have four children and I try to teach them things. All the difficulties I faced – and I faced many – helped shape me socially. When you enrolled, did you feel that you stood out? The first day I came to class I told everyone I was a Gypsy to see how people would react. I knew the other students had gone to junior high school, even if they had dropped out. I hadn’t even gone to elementary school. In the end, did you change their minds? Yes, through a project about racism. We divided into groups – Pontians and Gypsies – and studied the characters of these societies and we got closer. Tell me a verse from one of your poems. Never be ashamed of who you are/ Travel your road and live your life/ Free to live just like the birds/ And love will nest in your heart.

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