1. How did you decide this ''Meet Culture'' project?
After relocated in Athens in 2013, we surprisingly found that Greek people are very fond of Chinese traditional culture, however there had been few such kind of activities here.
Kevin founded a non-profit organization Magnolia Chinese Culture Association in China, which focuses on traditional culture and now has grown to be the leading organization in this area. Besides that, both of us are also Chinese traditional instruments performers. Kevin plays Chinese Flute and Guqin. Eley plays Guzheng and Guqin. All of these are ancient instruments with beautiful melodies and we would love to share with more people. Moreover given our strong connections in the traditional culture area in China, we decided to start “Meet Culture”, an international cultural exchange platform in order to promote cultural exchange activities between Chinese and Greek culture.
2. What were the obstacles you found in this -let's call it - ''trip''?
First and foremost obstacle is that we started our project in a foreign country where We came without knowing a single word of Greek, nor did we know any Greek people. It is always diffcult to start from 0 to 1, and we need to creat find our resources and creat our projects. Fortunately, we have met many Greek people who are in favor of our initiatives and helped us a lot, as well as the great the support from our friends in China. We were moved by how the Greek people recognize our efforts and give the great support, which is an important reason to keep us moving on.
3. Do you find common convictions between Chinese people and Greeks?
Yes, definitely! As the only two existing ancient civilizations, Chinese and Greeks share many interesting similarities. For example, both Chinese and Greek people have strong family value, and are both relationship focused. Both Greeks and Chinese love the traditional culture, which is deeply rooted in both civilizations. These are also the reasons why Greeks and Chinese can easily understand each other, and why we feel somehow familiar while living in Greece.
4. Tell us more about the events you have already organized.
Among the cultural exchange projects which have been accomplished by us, the most outstanding one is the first ever Guqin concerts “Music from Ancient China” in Athens and Santorini in July 2014, which attracted more than 450 audiences and were recognized as a mile stone between Greece and China’s cultural relationships. We invited a famous Chinese Guqin musician to Greece, and her ensemble with Greek wind flute and Ancient Greek Lyre were highly complimented. We were surprised to notice that many Greek people were deeply touched when these ancient instruments met with each other for the first time in the history.
We also finished the cultural travel project with some famous Chinese online tourism websites, including the travel books for Santorini and Athens, etc. We co-produced the documentary Being Chinese in Athens with Greek Reporter, hosted six Culture Talks with cooperation with some nice galleries, tea houses, etc. We were invited to give lectures about Chinese traditional culture and music in Athens Confucius Institute, Chinese school and also the disabled school. We have also started the culture preservation for Ancient Greek Lyre and will promote to China.
5.How do you experience your lives here? And what are the things you really like about Greece?
We deeply believe that "Live Local" is our best way to experience a new country. Greece is a country that we fall in love at first sight, not only the blue sea, clear sky and nice food, but also the Greek culture and people, especially after we got to know this country deeper through our communications with local people. Greek people are well known for their hospitality and kindness. We are grateful that we have so many Greek friends in different areas. We share the things we love and learn from each other. We feel as if this is our home while living in Greece.
6. Things you would like to change here? Things that make you a really angry..?
Maybe the sense of time. It would make our work easier if people can always be on time and efficient, and also not to make the decision till the last minute. In China people treat “on time” as an important quality, and don’t like delay. But here we have experienced quite some times in such situation, and sometimes it was quite frustrating. It may be difficult to change, but of course if could it will be very beneficial to everyone.
7. A tourist from China, that has just landed to Athens, what he or she should do first in order to feel more ''Athenian''?
Instead of heading to Acropolis and Zeus Temple, it would be better to take a cosy stroll in Plaka or Thisio area on a sunny day. Have a cup of coffee at one of those nice cafes with wonderful views and chat with friends. Listen to a concert of bouzouki or lyre, and enjoy the nightlife with delicious Greek cuisine or even dance with Greek people till midnight!
8. Greek restaurants you really like to eat? Share your choices with us.
It’s difficult to list all them out! We like Greek food in general. Kosta, the souvlaki restaurant in the city center, has the best souvlaki in town that acclaimed by one of our Greek friends. Also Strofi Restaurant near Fillopapous Hill has nice view over Acropolis and delicious homemade Greek food.
9. The biggest difference between 2 countries.? (well i suppose it's more than one...)
From our view, we would like to say the mindset between Chinese and Greek people is somehow different. Greek people are more relaxed, even in the crisis, but nowadays most Chinese people are too stressed, working very hard but with a low quality life and always tired. Sometimes Chinese tourists were surprised to see Greek people were happy and optimistic even in the hard time, while Chinese people think they might be in a very upset and depressing mood. This is also what we think Chinese people should learn from Greeks.
10. Your next ''Meet Culture'' goals, are........
We are now working on several projects, including promoting Ancient Greek Lyre to China, Documentary of Chang Jing’s Music Travel in Greece, Greece Tourism promotion in China with the cooperation with Marketing Greece and Chinese tourism platforms, Chinese painting exhibition in Athens, “The Sound of China’s Future” in Athens Festival, Chinese & Greek Poem Collaboration, etc. Quite a lot of projects, but we have a very focused goal to connect Greece and China through traditional culture. Not only China to Greece, but also Greece to China. We wish ourselves to be a qualified cultural bridge between Greece and China.
Kevin Miao & Eley Yuan
Meet Culture 如见文化
(a big thanks to ''The Tsai'' for the hospitality)