“…the miracle of medicine in 2020 is to extend the quality of life of people, many of whom are our mothers and fathers, our grandmothers and grandfathers. We honor and respect everybody. But most importantly we honor and respect them. We cannot be without them. We do not have an identity without them.”
These emotionally charged words coming from Professor Sotiris Tsiodras, a world renowned scientist, show once again that the way countries react against this pandemic is cultural.
Professor Tsiodras’ words prove once again, this time with the “scientific seal of approval,” that grandparents are the pillar of society for Greeks. For Greeks from every corner of the world, it is a sheer blessing to grow up with your yiayia and pappou next to you. They are the superheroes of the Greek universe who live to support and please their grandchildren in any way they can.
While parents mostly worry about their kids’ education, future and every day activities, grandparents are the ones who worry about keeping kids happy, showing them the world, telling them stories about their past, teaching them the value of family and the importance of their roots.
For Greek grandparents life revolves around their grandchildren. And when it comes to their contribution to Hellenism, grandparents are the Greek teachers’ best and true allies in teaching Greek to younger generations of the Greek diaspora. They just love showing the Greek community how their little successors count in Greek, sing Greek songs, read and write in the Greek alphabet.
“Pappous and yiayia give a constant fight to keep the Greek language and culture alive,” says Stella Bompotsiari, Director of Greek Lessons OnLine.
But today, Greek families have been asked to do something most of them did not have to do before. They have been asked to stay apart. They have been asked to keep children away from their grandparents for a while to protect them.
Social media have been bombarded with pictures of Greek grandmothers hanging over their balconies to see their granddaughters and grandsons and shouting out loud “Σ’αγαπώ.”
But no matter how difficult familial distancing is, we all need to follow the instructions and the scientists’ guidelines. We need to keep pappou and yiayia safe. We need to protect them because we love them and we need them. And Hellenism needs them!
In the meantime, technology is here to make sure they keep connected, to make sure they don’t miss each other too much. Technology is here to encourage kids to learn Greek and speak it with their grandparents once everything goes back to normal.
Alternative options like the worldwide online Greek School, Greek Lessons OnLine, are here to teach Greek to children from the safety of their homes.
Also, Greek LOL is also here to bring kids and grandparents closer together and to continue important traditions such as the celebration of Greek Independence Day. While all celebrations for the 25th of March had been cancelled, the online Greek school, Greek LOL hosted its online celebration as always.
More than students from around the world connected from their homes to celebrate Greece and bring tears of joy and pride to their grandparents’ eyes as they had the chance to see their amazing grandchildren reciting poems and honoring Greece.
Let’s all stay healthy, calm and let’s protect our loved ones until we go back to normal. In the meantime, we can always turn to technology which can be a meaningful “friend” in times like these. It keeps families connected and grandparents happy and proud.