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Kathryn Lukey-Coutsocostas interviewing Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in 2004, when he was the leader of the opposition.
Kathryn Lukey-Coutsocostas interviewing Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in 2004, when he was the leader of the opposition.

Canadian Expat Making News in Greece

Courtesy of Sean Mitton
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1.    What's your Canadian background (Hometown, School, etc)

I'm a prairie girl, born in Canora, Saskatchewan, 1955, moved to Yorkton as a toddler (schooled at: Fairview; Simpson; Dr Brass; Yorkton Regional High), and then relocated to Saskatoon for the remainder of high school (Aden Bowman Collegiate). I got a teaching certificate from the University of Saskatchewan, and then my sister, JoAnn, and I moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, to attend the University of Manitoba, where I got a B.Ed. The stay at the university dormitory brings us to the next question.

2.    What brought you to Greece?

Love. At that time, many Greeks (mainly male) were going abroad to get their master's degree. So the magic happened at the university dorm, St Andrew's College, where my future husband Yannis, JoAnn and I stayed. Little did I know that my transformation into a transnational -- someone whose identify transcends two or more national borders - was just beginning…

Kathryn Lukey-Coutsocostas
Kathryn Lukey-Coutsocostas

3.    Tell us what it's like being a writer in Greece?

Fortunately, English, the world's lingua franca, was my native tongue, allowing me to make the most of Greece's English-language press. With no formal training in journalism or writing, I'm sure it would have been a lot harder to break into the writing world had I stayed in Canada.

The four national columns I've had have given me a chance to explore the fascinating world of transnationalism. And the journalistic work has enabled me to talk with remarkable individuals like Nobel Prize winners Harold Pinter and Doris Lessing, linguist David Crystal, UN's Alvaro De Soto, EU's Vivian Reding, US's Michael and Kitty Dukakis, Greece's George Papandreou, and a host of other not-so-internationally-recognizable-but-equally-inspiring others.

But I must say that, with the economic crisis, publishers now seem to be turning towards staff-produced work, making a freelancer's lot even harder.

4.    Do you run into any Canadians and do you celebrate Canadian holidays?

The key strength of a freelance journalist is an extensive contact list, so every local Canadian I meet gets recorded in my little black book….

Turning to something more personal, my stint on the board of the Canadian Women's Club of Greece many years ago in Athens turned out to be a watershed for establishing an equilibrium between my past (being Canadian), my present (being Greek), and my future (being a healthy balance of both).

In 2001, a small group of us set up what was to become the Hellenic Canadian Friendship Association in Thessaloniki - an informal, small but dynamic, fellowship.

Besides coffee mornings, we usually have an annual Cosy Canadian Christmas Drink, and colourful Canadian tables at the annual ethnic Food-for-Good Festival and the International Women's Organisation of Greece's Christmas bazaar.

Last year, our association cooperated with the honorary consul of Thessaloniki to co-organize an informal BBQ lunch at his cottage by the sea for Canada Day. This year, since our move back to Athens upon my husband's retirement, we celebrated Canada Day at the ambassador's residence.

5.   Do you miss anything about Canada? If so what...

You'll have to read my columns to get the complete scoop!

But quickly: my family; certain foods (like puddings, pies and Ukrainian kubasa); some products (like celery salt, sage, liquid vanilla and washable slippers); detached houses; my native tongue; values and skills (like multiculturalism, community spirit, civil society and critical thinking); services (like health, welfare and education); and "please" and "thank you".

6.    Anything else you'd like to share about living in Greece that people may find interesting.

Suffice it to say that Timothy Ferriss was right when he suggested in his book The 4-hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich that Greece was an example of a country where you can enjoy some perks of being a millionaire without actually being one. I reflect on this every summer, whilst sipping wine and dining on a crisp Greek salad and freshly caught fish alongside Homer's wine-dark sea.

BIO

For the last two decades, Canadian-Greek Kathryn Lukey-Coutsocostas has covered Greece's transnational community as a freelance journalist, columnist and ELT textbook author in both Athens and Thessaloniki. Her written work and photographs have appeared in publications like the Athens News, Insider Athens, Odyssey, ELGazette and ELT News. Her column 'On the Borderline' runs fortnightly in Greece's national English-language weekly, the Athens News (www.athensnews.gr).

Privately, she is a community advocate who has served on the executive boards of several non-governmental, not-for-profit associations that focus on migrant-related interests. Three of these executive boards in Thessaloniki were founding boards: the annual ethnic Food-for-Good Festival, Thessaloniki Women's Organisation for Employment and Resources -- Tower (www.tower4women.gr), and the Hellenic Canadian Friendship Association (www.friendsofcanada.gr).

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