A bad turn

About a month and a half ago, the crowds in the stadiums would cheer for the winners wearing Greek national colors. Because of our unchecked enthusiasm or cunningness, we did not pay much attention to what in any other case we would scrutinize carefully: the authenticity of «Greekness.» In other words, we did not examine whether our athletes were Greek by birth, or merely by adoption. The question of whether our athletes were truly Greek or not would bear no significance whatsoever under one condition: that we would not use their victories as a sign of racial superiority. However, we often did just that. Our victories in the stadiums made us radiate with a pride which exceeded the bounds of the sports arena. Alternatively, we could be proud of the fact that our schools take on students regardless of their origins, even if they lack some of the necessary documentation (with some exceptions, of course: Some men in police uniforms recently raided an evening school to arrest a pupil from Ukraine). We could also be proud of the fact that foreign students thrive despite the various obstacles put in their way. However, forsaking any such pride, we seem to forget that, were it not for foreign pupils, many of our schools would have too few students to justify keeping them open. And we believe our image is tarnished when a small child from abroad gets to carry the Greek flag in a national parade after scoring top marks in his or her class. Worse, we poison our own kids with intolerance, urging them to hold sit-in demonstrations at their schools shouting «Hellas, Hellas,» driven by the belief that they are battling a horrible enemy when they are, in fact, only unleashing vitriol against one of their fellow students. It is but one example of how the much-hyped Greek educational system can take a bad turn.