Since the crisis reared its grotesque head, thousands upon thousands of mainly young Greeks (around 250,000 since 2010, or almost 10% of the economically active population) flew away from a homeland where youth unemployment hit over 50%. In 2015 The Guardian wrote: “Call them Generation G: young, talented, Greek – and part of the biggest brain drain in an advanced western economy in modern times.” They are the New Diaspora, scattered around the globe and adding to the millions of Greeks who packed in Greek life generations ago, owing to the horrors of WWII or the destructive Civil War that ensued. The ongoing departure of younger Greeks in recent years has often been referred to as a “brain drain”, as many of these hundreds of thousands are educated, highly qualified people with the potential of offering their homeland a great deal during a crucial time of unsteadiness – were it not for the unpalatable reality that their country had so little to offer them in return.
The mass exodus has led to a new correspondence amongst those Greeks who stayed home to face the music and those who stepped into a new life: enter the New Diaspora website, created in 2013. Defining itself as an “independent web documentary movement” that bases itself on the power of storytelling and the spread of social media, the website has, over several years, built a reliable hub for a broad online community of Greeks around the world. It presents a series of mini docs about the complex experiences and profound issues faced by Greeks living in different adoptive countries, as well as photographs, articles, news, open letters in the first person and even an interactive map to connect Greeks by location. Its logo is the white dandelion puff flower that one blows on to make a wish, dispersing its seeds in the air. Created by filmmaker Nikolas Stampoulopoulos in March 2013, newdiaspora.com has garnered a significant fan base and widespread support online, and his short films have also been screened on the European cultural channel, ARTE Future.
“The departure of educated or professional people from one country, economic sector, or field for another usually for better pay or living conditions.” Merriam Webster Dictionary
The idea behind the site is to tap into the collective intelligence of expatriate Greeks in order to bring about understanding and change, helping them to network with each other and share their know-how and creative input with their compatriots back home. And it’s definitely working. “At a time when all hope seems lost, I believe that the hundreds of thousands of neo-migrant Greeks can become a sort of cavalry that saves the day,” says Stampoulopoulos, whose New Diaspora website is just the first step for him and his global Greek team. He is now planning to partner with universities and research centers in order to more accurately record and define the phenomenon of the new exodus, although he notes “it’s not going to be easy, since workforce mobility within EU borders is not considered to be a form of immigration.” Stampoulopoulos also has a new website in the works, this time focusing on offering more practical tools to migrating Greeks: “It will include classified ads, local agendas, the ability to create a personal profile and exchange information with others, etc. There is going to be an app for that, too; as soon as we get the funding in place.” He says his team always welcomes people to join them.