Guest Writers - Mariahfe
3 mins read

Athens; In the eyes of an immigrant

My first language when I was a child was English. My mom would talk to me in Filipino and English and I would respond back in… English. I went to a private Filipino kindergarten and after that, I started my 1st grade at a Greek public school because my parents couldn’t afford my education. It was a pretty terrifying experience because I knew zero Greek and knew nobody except my now childhood friend Stanley. Stanley and his younger brother were half Filipino and Iranian. So, growing up I only had them as my friends and I would do everything with them. In other words, I never got to know the Greek culture until 1st grade. 1st grade was pretty much the beginning of everything. Looking back, I have to say that my elementary school had some hard-working teachers because I was from zero Greek in 1st grade to speaking fluently in 6th grade. My love for arts and environmental awareness grew thanks to my dope teachers in elementary school.

I remember when I was a child whenever my parents would bring me along to their workplace, I liked to see places, rooms, objects and decorations whenever we would ride any transportation, inside or outside my parent’s workplace that seemed to be pleasing to my eyes or made me feel calm and heartwarming and I always wished I could picture the moment and have them in little photographs. Ever since elementary school, I was inspired a lot by the 3 teachers that I had over the years. The 1st teacher was good at arts, the 2nd teacher was good at arts and acting and the 3rd teacher was good at music. Those three elements helped me enough to get creative in arts, music and visuals but mostly arts and visuals.

Along the way I discovered Instagram. The good old Instagram, which was not as popular as it is now and it was not all capitalistic or cookies involved… at least that’s how I saw it 5-6 years ago… But instead, it was a platform for anyone to express themselves or to share about their simplistic lives. Good times… Through Instagram, I found many artistic things and many talented photographers and thanks to them I found out about street photography. I was learning by observing carefully and noting a bunch of ideas in my head. The only thing that was missing was a camera. Eventually, though, my dad gifted me a camera for Christmas when I was 17-18 years old and so the journey began.

Photography was a hollow hobby for me until I started taking pictures of the streets where I’ve built happy and ugly memories over the years but mostly being constantly captivated by Athensarchitecture which for some citizens either find ugly or beautiful.

For example, I love how the architecture of the orthodox churches seems to differ from other buildings or how the architecture of a church can beautify a whole city.

Every time I enter an orthodox church, I always find the wall paintings, the symbols, the detailed wood crafting in the chairs, the colourful windows and the high ceilings genius and well thought out because not only is the church a whole symbol of worship but it prepares the believer to worship and reminds the history of the faith to the believer through the paintings.

Growing up in Athens has been such a blessing for me. It is surely not perfect. I have met people who are not always polite and I mean every country has its ups and downs and I have met people who are incredibly welcoming and understanding to a point where we forget we are from different races. It has been a place where I have shed tears, anger, confusion and joy. Athens is a place where I have lost myself and found myself at the same time. I love the people, the culture, the history and the rich knowledge, and I still have so much to learn and I am eager to know more!

Last but not least, I’ve always admired Athens’ street art which usually involves political, social, economical, religious and environmental issues.

If I could describe Athens in a couple of words it would be creative, welcoming, sincere, raw, beautiful and thought-provoking.

Guest Writers - Mariahfe
About Mariahfe

Ellow. I am a Filipino (with Japanese roots) gal who is raised in Athens. I have big dreams that are still caged in my mind and soul and I am hoping and praying that I can one day set them free. I am sensitive to matters of Christianity, religion and philosophy and curious every now and then about politics and activism. I’m a big fan of arts and photography and my constant goal is to be open-minded and to expand my creativity to be able to unify Christianity and other matters through art.

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