17 years old
It is very nice to meet here every day and talk. In our country there was no such freedom.
But then again, when you’re in a foreign country and you don’t know the language, you feel lonely. Language is very important in helping you communicate. Not being able to talk is like having a wall around you. You don’t have anyone to tell your problems to. No one understands you. You are alone. There are many refugees who live in solitude. Only when you learn the language do you realize that there are people who notice you, who can help you.
In the human figures of Vlassis Caniaris1, I recognize this feeling of loneliness and all the other feelings you experience when you’re faced with a problem in your country and don’t know where to go. Living abroad is a difficult thing. This is what the squares of the game symbolize. This [art] installation shows the suffering that people go through when they are forced to leave their homeland. Also, the artist did not put a head on the figures, because anyone, and I mean anyone, could be a refugee. Anyone could find themselves in their position. And the suitcases also have a meaning. Apart from clothing, a person can also carry in them their papers, diplomas or degrees, to demonstrate what they can do, their skills or experience. Often, though, during a journey, not only are the belongings of refugees lost but their lives as well.
Every morning when I wake up, for me it’s a new difficult beginning. At least I can communicate with people, because I speak English. At the school I go to, I will also improve my Greek. As soon as I reached Greece, I started going to school. First in Mytilene [on Lesvos island], for one or two months, and then here, in Heraklion. I’ve been in Greece for 11 months and I just finished the 10th grade.
My parents are the most important people in my life. They remind me daily not to waste my time and to look for opportunities to learn anything that might help me in the future. But we should also be thinking for ourselves about what to do in our lives and make our own decisions.
If you want to achieve anything, you need to put effort into it. This is what I saw in Do-Ho Suh’s piece2, where each step, as you climb it, has its difficulty. You cannot reach the top right away. That’s what I understand. I didn’t pay attention to the colours of the installation, but to the staircase. The greatest difficulty lies in the first step: the first step is the hardest.
This work of art has a positive message and shows the truth about life: that you need to put effort into reaching your goals. My goal, for now is, to finish school. Anyone who does not go to school is not a complete person. I want to become a lawyer, to be able to help those in need. To be the voice of those who need help. I know that, to succeed, it will take a lot of studying and practising the language.
The bundles that we saw in the work of Kimsooja3 are something we also make in Afghanistan. We may be from different countries, speak different languages, but we have some things in common. In one such bundle I would keep the book that I want to write about what I’ve been through in life. And when I get to the point where things will no longer be so hard for me, I will open it so I can read it and never forget what I’ve experienced.
As we can see, each bundle has a different colour, and that is the way we need to look at people too: each one has their own personality and we need to adapt our behaviour accordingly. And just like all bundles put together, one next to each other, create a beautiful set, the same happens to a country: it’s better for people of different origins to live together, united.
In Afghanistan, near my house, there was a football field where we all gathered together with our friends, playing ball and talking about which team we wanted to play for when we grew up. Here, with my new friends, we meet on Plateia Eleftherias [Liberty Square] and play or walk towards the Koules Fortress and look at the sea.
The work of Alexandros Georgiou4 reminded me of some historical monuments in my country: the castle in my city, Herat, and the giant statue of Buddha in Bamiyan. A lot of people know them. They are the symbols of the two cities. Before the war, they were visited by many tourists. Now there are no tourists in Afghanistan.
War is destructive. It prevents a country from developing and showcasing its wealth and cultural heritage. The massive spending on war could instead be used for health and other beneficial purposes. After what we experienced in our country, we understand what a problem truly is. Anyone who has not experienced war is overwhelmed by what for us may be small problems.
At school, they ask me about what is happening in my country and I try to explain to them in any language I can, Greek or English. I am surprised that while the war in Afghanistan has been raging for over 30 years now, few people know about it here. Another misconception is its association with terrorism. But that is not the case.
Thanks to the work of Bia Davou5 I learned about the Odyssey. The story of Odysseus and his adventure is amazing and very instructive. I guess that’s why the world loves it so much. I would like to read it too. Also, I would like the book that I’ll write with my own adventures to become as famous.
Indeed, life is a journey that begins from the moment we are born. Along the way, a lot of what will happen may be within our plans and other things not. What’s important, however, is our attitude. Life’s ups and downs are also depicted in the work of Kostis Velonis6, with the waving carpet, as we never know what the next day will bring. The point is to be able to face everything and to appreciate the happy moments.
Yet Velonis’ piece has other meanings too. By joining elements of the West and the East, it shows that we can all work together for a better tomorrow and that any differences that may exist between cultures should not stand in the way of cooperation. As long as there is respect and acceptance. I would like to congratulate the artist for this thought.
But, unfortunately, in many countries of the East there are things happening that I do not like. Looking at the Harpooned Fish by Costas Tsoclis7, I think about the women in these countries, who either because of war or for religious reasons, do not have freedom of choice. The other woman on the painting, who is standing next to the fish, symbolises the women in Europe and America, who are enjoying their freedom. It’s not religion, however, that imposes such restrictions. It has to do with bad interpretation of the sacred texts.
I am optimistic, however, and I hope that someday this will change. Just like I hope that one day there will be no more war in Afghanistan and then I will be able to go on the only trip I dream of: returning home.
1 Refers to the work Hopscotch, 1974.
2 Refers to the work Staircase ΙΙ, 2004.
3 Refers to the work, Bottari, 2005-2017.
4 Refers to Athens, Parthenon, 2007-2008.
5 Refers to Sails, 1981-1982.
6 Refers to the work Swedish Flying Carpet, 2001.
7 Refers the works Portraits, 1986 and Harpooned Fish, 1985.