Before coming to Athens, I stayed with my brother, John1, for a while, at a refugee site in Lesvos. We reached the island from Turkey, after an adventurous trip in an inflatable dinghy, which lasted six to seven hours. Before leaving, we were told that we would be going straight to Athens, that the distance was short, that the trip was absolutely safe and that it would only last 20 minutes. As it turned out, they had lied. In addition, the engine broke down and the boat drifted for many hours. It was December, a strong wind was blowing, and neither I nor my brother knew how to swim. It was very dangerous. The adventure ended when the rescue boats came and we were taken to Lesvos.
I currently live in an apartment in Kypseli. I share it with my brother and three other housemates. It’s on the fifth floor of a block of flats and has a large terrace with a nice view. From the terrace, you can see the whole of Athens. But for me, the favorite part of the house is the dining room, where I like to sit and read or listen to music. I really like music. Unfortunately, I do not have a computer at home but there is Wi-Fi and I can access the internet with my cell phone. Other times, I hang out with John and talk, or read the poems he writes. I feel safe at home. I also feel safe when I go out in Athens, downtown or in my neighborhood.
When I attended the Museum’s 2 programme, I hadn’t started school yet. I missed it a lot and wanted to begin school here in Greece so that I wouldn’t be left behind in my studies. As time passed, I was afraid that if I didn’t go to school, I might do something bad in this country, something illegal, and then get sent to jail or back to my country, where I’m not safe at all. Fortunately, I started school. I’m very happy and trying to adapt, do my best to succeed and realize the dreams I have for my future. I first have to learn the [Greek] language in order to join a higher class and start learning new things from school.
It is very important to build a strong base and focus all your efforts on it. That’s what I saw in the Staircase II, by Do-Ho Suh, one of the works we discussed at the Museum3. In this work, the staircase does not rest on the floor but is hanging from the ceiling. When I saw it, I thought that the artist wanted to show the way forward in fulfilling our dreams and to draw our attention to our first steps, but also the importance of having solid foundations in life so that we can be stable, and to build our future on them.
The bundles in Kimsooja’s4 work could symbolize refugees. Different colors in the fabrics symbolize the different cultures each of us comes from or the different race we belong to. Also, as bundles contain things that we cannot see, every refugee hides the ideas and talents that he has not been given the opportunity to reveal. It takes time and, perhaps, some day, the bundle will open and refugees will be able to make use of their abilities and talents. Only then will they feel free.
If you look at the work by Vlassis Caniaris5, you can see that it shows exactly the condition of a refugee who has just arrived in another country and is expecting something important to happen, to be given an opportunity to do something. I could identify with the figure outside the frame because I don’t like to feel constrained; I like to urge other people on and encourage them to do things that will help them move on with their lives. For example, my brother and I are not used to living alone. But we are trying to learn how to do it, and to continue our lives with what we have at the moment. That’s what we have in mind. Let’s see what we can do in the years ahead to realize our dreams.
The work that stood out and which I liked the most was by Alexandros Georgiou. It depicts the Parthenon6. Just as the artist painted the ancient temple in yellow and made it stand out from the rest of the image, which is gray, as if some light is glowing, I thought of the parables that Jesus told, sitting on a rock. Another thought that came to mind has to do with the strong foundations one must have in order to have a good future. Since the temple was built many centuries ago and is still there, it means it was built carefully and with strong foundations. We need to pay close attention to foundations because they will be our base in life. That is why school is my priority right now.
I also like to play football and I am good at this sport, but I believe that you have to try a lot of things in different fields to finally find which one you’re best at and then go on. My dream for my future is to study software engineering, but I remember my mother, who wanted me to become a doctor. She insisted on it. She believed it was more important to save human lives than to contribute to the development of technology. That’s why I will try to become a doctor. But first I need to see if I’m good at school and if I do well in the exams.
What I know for sure is that I have long-term plans for my life. I want to enjoy my life, I am a dreamer and I am determined to succeed.
1 Bryan’s brother, John, also participated in the programme
2 Refers to the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens.
3 Refers to the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens.
4 Refers to Bottari, 2005-2017.
5 Refers to Hopscotch, 1974.
6 Refers to Athens, Parthenon, 2007-2008.