Nikos Graikos

Interview: Maro Voulgari | Photo: Giorgos Demertzis

The Paros I love is a wild flower which resists the bulldozer of mass tourism

Nikos Graikos, known in the Greek community in Paris as the man who teaches Greek as a foreign language, is one of the founding members of the Society Phonie-Graphie for the propagation of Modern Greek in France.

Do you think that the language can be the ambassador of an entire civilization?
Certainly, the smallest phrase contains an entire world: a lingual and cultural tradition, the history of the speaker himself. His stances, his gestures, the tone of his voice are the agents of a history. The classroom where the teaching takes place is like a theatre scene, a microcosm representing the macrocosm, the space which contains the language we learn.

Which is the relation between the French and Greek cultures and why do you believe that the French love our country and our language?
I do not believe that there is a special relation between France and Greece. I have taught Greek to students coming from many countries. Those who decide to learn Greek have a personal relation with the country and the language. Learning the Greek language is a return to some roots, to a remote personal history.

What is “Phonie-Graphie” and what has been its role in creating links between the two cultures?
It is a collective effort which helps its members to find the Greece they are looking for. Each one their own Greece. The courses and the cultural events create an area for dialogue and exchange of experiences which make us feel rich. This wealth is the meeting, the hope that we shall not let our life slip by aimlessly.

Which is this year’s educational programme as regards Paros?
The courses for French I am responsible for, have been organized by the French Society “Athina”. Besides the language courses -with three teachers- the programme includes many cultural events and lectures. This year we have the pleasure of cooperating with Giorgos Yemeliaris of the Archilochos cultural Society for the theatre workshops and with Maroulia Kontou of the Mythodia Conservatory for the music lessons. We also thank the Municipality for its help.

Tell us about some of your favourite habits, routes and moments at the island.
My walks at Lefkes, at Marpissa, the alleys at Parikia, the neighbourhoods near Panagia at Naoussa, the visits to the monasteries… The Windmill at Agkairia, some gorgeous shops with old objects, the restaurants, the taverns or the cafes which respect their client and see him as a friend… The events at the theatre at Lefkes or at the Paros Cultural Park. The sunset from the Kastro in Parikia which imparts a feeling of eternity. I also remember the green ray shortly before the sunset in the direction of Antiparos, at the veranda of a friend’s house at Agkairia. I shall never forget the wild anemones I saw this winter. The Paros I love is a wild flower which resists the bulldozer of mass tourism.

Summer 2017