After a debt crisis brought the country to its knees, Greece has been struggling to find its feet. But with suicide rates on the rise and unemployment at record high levels, it has proven to be nothing less than a goliath challenge.
Yet despite the bleakness of the situation, some young Greeks are determined to keep the hope alive as they anticipate -- and build -- a better, brighter Greece of tomorrow.
Aphrodite Bouikidis is one such optimist. She is the program director of the on-going Reinventing Greece Media Project -- an organization that seeks to engage Greek-American college students to challenge negative portrayals of Greece through public dialogue, as well as to offer an independent source of solutions-based journalism.
"[The project] is based on the unique approach of combining citizen reporting, mentorship and partnership," Bouikidis, herself a Greek-American, told Greek News. "Its most important feature is that young Greek-Americans are at the forefront of identifying and reporting stories -- because youth-led journalism is one way the next generation can play a leading role in promoting new dialogue, change and partnership."
Last summer, with Bouikidis at the helm, a group of determined Greek-American college students -- all recipients of the prestigious Athens Fellowship -- traveled to Athens, Greece to launch the media project, reports Business Partners Online.
During their time in Greece, the students produced stories that covered topics as diverse as green energy, the economy and the Greek media.
Interviewing public and community leaders, as well as entrepreneurs and investors, students were encouraged to debate issues and decisions important to young Greeks, in an effort to find possible solutions and new perspectives for Greece's many challenges.
"Despite the adversity, despite the negative portrayals of Greece throughout the world, despite the prevalent lack of trust in the country’s political system, there are people who have ideas and who have the desire to help bring the country back on its feet and indeed to help it prosper," Michael Nevradakis, a participating student from the University of Texas at Austin, told Greek News.
"There were angel investors who were funding the efforts of young entrepreneurs, new initiatives aimed at marketing a more positive image of Greece abroad, and individuals who expressed a plan and a vision for a prosperous Greece," he said.
Bouikidis told SETimes that she hopes that by drawing attention to all that is working -- rather than failing -- in her country, a new, more positive vision of Greece will be encouraged.
"Many people want to read positive news, and when they read about times of crisis or institutions that do not work, they ask, 'What can we -- what can I -- do about this?'" she said.
Bouikidis hopes that the Reinventing Greece Media Project will help to offer answers to those questions by uniting the Greek community under a banner of hope and open communication.
"This project was founded first and foremost on an effort to ask, listen and understand. Whatever we build together moving forward can only be built on this foundation of understanding and communication," she said on the media project's website. "We are here to look forward, toward the Greece of the future."
Aphrodite Bouikidis blogs for The Huffington Post.