Reviving the 2004 spirit

«Why don’t we revive the volunteer movement that made us proud during the 2004 Olympic Games?» The conversation began with a discussion about volunteer forest rangers but soon wandered into other fields such as the operation of the country’s archaeological sites outside of normal opening hours. The discussion among friends was sparked by recent news reports that the Culture Ministry would be unable to cover overtime pay for the security staff employed at the temples of the Acropolis and Sounio, two of the archaeological sites that were scheduled to stay open late on the night of the August full moon. It was not the first time that ordinary people were feeling nostalgic for the dynamism and discipline shown by Greek society six years ago. Different people have come up with various ideas, but all aspire to draw on the patriotism of that sector of Greek society that is outside the loop, as it were. It’s not just those within the 18-24 age group but also a large number of people over 50 – mostly women with grown children and fewer commitments who would be willing to work part-time for the common good. Following a brief training session, volunteers could be used to help out during museums’ and archaeological sites’ extended opening hours, to work at refreshment stands and souvenir shops, to provide information or clean up gardens and paths. A badge saying «I am a volunteer and am helping my country» would be enough for these people. They could be given a discount for all public archaeological sites and museums, and they would be employed for a specific period of time. This would allow museums to operate outside the standard time schedule. It would also be a breath of fresh air for the aging state apparatus. These volunteers would become the ambassadors of a new ethos that would elevate the nation above private interests. Then, perhaps, we could hold a fresh debate about the many key issues concerning culture and cultural promotion in the tourism-oriented country that is Greece.