Atelier des Jeunes Citoyens et Citoyennes de la Méditerranée

In Greece, a portrait of a recent recruit of the AJCM, a man of culture with a thousand faces and a thousand projects, who brings with him the solidarity commitment of young Greeks.

Rock singer, doctor in Cultural Sociology, musician, scientific director of a centre for unaccompanied minor asylum seekers, songwriter, specialist in European funding programmes for cultural projects, in charge of addiction prevention workshops for young people. Behind all these labels in a list that is not exhaustive, there is only one man, Andreas Almpanis 45 years old, a mysterious and indefinable Greek activist who has just recently joined the AJCM.

Born and raised in Larissa, the fourth largest city in Greece, he left his city to study and returned 15 years with degrees. In the meantime and in parallel with his studies, he founded a rock band “I Fovi tou Prigkipa” (The Prince’s Fears) with three other students. The band creates a small notoriety and plays all over the country. Two years later, they are signed by the Virgin label. The adventure barely lasted  seven years, the time to produce four albums. This group of four people is Andreas’ first “team” and, like everything happened later, it produces art, his means of expression

The end of the group marks the beginning of his doctoral studies. In 2008, Andreas became a doctor in cultural sociology and began a thesis entitled “Minorities and Social Exclusion”. He returned to Larissa where his thesis led him to the next stage of his life: he became the scientific director of a house for unaccompanied minor asylum seekers run by the NGO Arsis. The experience marks him. “I understood that to really be able to support people in need, you need to know two things: to really know yourself and to never lose sight of the fact that, apart from life’s circumstances, no human being is superior to others. »

He later joined the SMouTh musical theatre artistic collective dedicated to providing educational and artistic expression opportunities to young people who would not otherwise have access to them. Every year, the collective puts on shows and participates, thanks to Andreas, in European cultural exchange programs allowing the young artists in the making of the association not only to travel but also to perform in front of and meet other young artists or aspiring artists from all over Europe.

But this, of course, is not enough. Over the years, two other projects will therefore be born. He became the scientific director of the creative workshop of the local OKANA (Public Organisation for the Fight against Addiction) and, as a father, he set up a programme specially designed for children. The aim is to use children’s creativity and artistic expression to protect them from future temptations and the dangers of addiction, something essential in a country like Greece which still suffers a lot from heroin.

But this is obviously not enough. Soon, he is also setting up MAKE USE collective for young people between 16 and 30 years old who want to “act as vectors of solidarity, to identify and understand social problems and solve them”. As with SMouTh, he is getting European programmes to enable these young people to travel to meet other young people across Europe who share the same ideals and thus transform local good will into global actions on a European scale. And since he also wants to express himself, since 2016, he has been creating with friends a new rock band, Birthday Kicks, which is now in its second album.

The source of his motivations? Andreas has difficulty answering clearly and seems uncomfortable. Simply answering seems complicated, as if he wants to hide behind vague concepts in order not to reveal his big secret. As if reluctantly, he eventually admits that he just wants to be an actor of change, of a change towards a better world.

Utopian? The term seems to appeal to him instantly. With a newfound self-confidence, he readily admits it. “Utopia is the unattainable goal that you still have to try to reach. But whether or not to reach it is not really important. What matters is how far we’ve come”.

Has the fact that he has been a father for 9 years now pushed him to work even harder to change the world in which his two sons are growing up? But if my children were asked what their father does, they would say that Daddy is never home. He is too busy trying to change the world.

In Athens, Pavlos Kapantais

Photo Giannis Floulis