The pain caused by the country’s decline often leads to an excess of self-deprecation, a tendency to reject everything that is Greek, to a state of utter negativism. We have traveled all the way from a total lack of self-criticism to our current love for self-annihilation. Our reaction may make sense emotionally speaking, but it fails to take into consideration some key facts on the ground. It may also be infected by a dose of provincialism: Anything local is always defective, backward, pre-modern, inferior.
Take a look at Greek universities for example. The most common description made about them is that they are despicable. Their walls are filthy, their students are lazy and substandard, they carry all the sins of modern Greece. We hold them up against Harvard and belittle them even further.
But is everything really that bad? Of course not. Thankfully not. Last week, students from the Athens Law School won the International Roman Law Moot Court Competition, beating students from Cambridge and Oxford.
Also last month the 25-year-old Eleni Antoniadou was voted Woman of the Year for 2013 at the annual British-based FDM Everywoman in Technology Awards, which took place in London. Antoniadou is currently working on her PhD at the University of Illinois after receiving no less than nine scholarships to do so, and at NASA.
Interestingly, she began her studies at the newly established IT and Biomedical Applications Department of the University of Central Greece in Lamia. It was her choice. There are many cases of Greek graduates in medicine, physics or mathematics who move on to excel in extremely competitive environments from MIT and Princeton to Stanford or Berkeley.
Sure, the Antoniadous of this world would most probably excel in any environment. However it very important that the foundations were laid here, at an otherwise discredited Greek state university.