What’s a site visit that stands out in your memory?
Every visit has taught me something. An experience that stands out strongly in my memory was the visit to the Roma Community High School in Drosero, Xanthi, as part of the pilot program for supplying schools throughout Greece with technological equipment. I vividly recall the laughter, the songs, the ringing children’s voices that accompanied our car all the way from the entrance of the community to the schoolyard. I remember the overall warmth of the community and their insistence on offering us something to eat and drink. An image of huge, real smiles has been imprinted in my memory like a photograph. I looked around the school and the community and saw many challenges. I experienced many challenges there. But I also experienced people’s genuine desire to reciprocate with everything they had, the true gratitude and happiness that comes with every act of generosity.
On the same day, we also visited a primary school in the Pomakochoria region. A single teacher was in charge of the entire school, which he had transformed, with the help of his 15 amazing students, into a true temple of knowledge and personal discovery. With my own eyes, I saw and recognized the real value of the school. A single person can make the difference, and this particular person is a constant presence in the daily lives of many others.
What’s a grant that’s stuck with you over time?
There is a grant that not only I, but also my children and grandchildren, will remember. A grant that—we hope—all Greeks will keep enjoying. A monument of unparalleled architectural beauty, a meeting place, a space for connecting with others, for learning and creativity. I am, of course, talking about the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC). First, there was an innovative idea for an environmentally sustainable and autonomous cultural center. I remember the idea taking shape through the inspirational sketches of renowned architect Renzo Piano. I remember his enthusiasm, and the spectators’ enthusiasm, during the marvelous “Dance of the Cranes,” one of the first events held at the SNFCC, while it was still a worksite. I remember the SNFCC being handed over to the public and flooding with people. Since then, I have admired countless photos of small, daily, invaluable connections: families who have found activities to enjoy together, friends meeting in the halls of the Greek National Opera, elderly couples walking hand in hand and enjoying the Canal, strangers meeting at concerts.
I feel extremely proud of this SNF grant, and it makes me want to shout, “I was there too!”
Titica Emmanouil, SNF Events Coordinator
Irredeemable optimist, wanderlust sufferer, and member of the SNF Team for 17 years and counting