Dimosthenis being invited by the Prime Minister of Greece Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis after having received his award by the Never Such Innocence Foundation, August 2020.
Dimitrios-Dimosthenis Despotidis, a Year 10 student of the British International School of Athens, Campion, has recently published his first poetic compilation under the title Searching for my footsteps, not only in Greek but also in English. We spoke to him about his writing and the life paths he is seeking.
The National Herald: What role has your mother played in your outstanding achievements?
Dimitrios-Dimosthenis Despotidis: My mother has played a significant and influential role in the path of my life. She was and is the cornerstone of my upbringing, education, and personal and social development, like every mother, I presume. She is an inexhaustible source of inspiration. Besides the above, she has tremendous energy, always trying to do her best at all levels of her life. She is a generous, kind-hearted person who never gives up, even when the situations tend to deteriorate and solutions seem to be out of reach. Having said the above, I was exposed since my early childhood to the spiritual life not only in Athens but also in Andros, where I hail from.
TNH: How can we cultivate cultural awareness in our society?
DD: It can be cultivated not only through the focused learning of the language but also through attendance and participation in cultural events, traditional holidays, festivals, theatrical performances, visits to museums, debates, and generally speaking in activities that boost our mind and can take us one step further mentally and emotionally.
I was fortunate to attend an international British school, where the motto was ‘‘educating the individual as a whole,’’ through the engagement of many diverse and exciting activities. Projects and critical thinking are always top priorities. This trend has helped me a lot because, by breaking down cultural barriers, it made me realize the world from another broad-minded perspective. It made me understand who I am and what I would like to do.
TNH: What triggered you to write, and what is your book about?
DD: I was triggered to write after winning first place in an international poetry competition in London, among 4.000 individuals from 44 countries. This swept me off my feet! I realized I had great potential. It made me think that this was not enough, and I had to cultivate myself more, become better, and evolve myself.
Improvement comes with hard work, love, patience, persistence, and dedication. My book consists of 46 poems, all relating to my life, since the beginning, my Birth, my Baptism, Early Childhood, Friendship, Betrayals, life at school, my summers and Easters on the island of Andros, in the era of Tik Tok, seeking my identity, self-knowledge, family, findings, how have I experienced COVID-19, the transition from childhood to adolescence, and many other matters.
There is a special tribute to 200th anniversary of the start of the Greek Revolution, and there are poems devoted to a mother – Woman of Andros – who takes on the role of the cornerstone of the house when her husband, Theofilos Kairis, is away. He is one of the most important spiritual figures in the history of Andros. The latter was in charge of commencing the Revolution in Andros. There is also Soul of Aviators, and many more. Last but not least, the Hymn for the International Day of the Greek language holds a very special place in my heart, in addition to all the other poems that I consider my spiritual children. I usually write about what has inspired and intrigued me immensely, what has soothed my soul when experiencing the extremes of despair, depression, sadness, joy, or loneliness. The fluctuations in my character, however, prevail and, depending on the theme and the circumstances, have played their unique role. I also combined the poems with snapshots from my life.
I aim to continue writing about whatever intrigues me and inspires me. It is a way of expressing my soul and inner thoughts. Through writing and especially poetry, I always try to find the right word that is accurate and relevant to my perspective and way of thinking. Opening new possible forms of communication, broadening my horizons, and enhancing my culture is undoubtedly one of my main targets in life, in addition to contributing to human society.
TNH: How did the lockdown affect your writing and you mentally?
DD: It affected me immensely and determined whether I could move on with the same way of writing, in the same tone, or move ahead, trying to improve it. I addressed the second COVID-wave as a chance to improve myself, enrich my knowledge, and broaden my horizons. Focusing on my soul was inevitable. Having obeyed the measures of the Government, being isolated, far from the school, my beloved teachers and friends, my activities, writing was the balm of my life. It provided me with strength and compassion. My life during those turbulent and unprecedented times was miserable and pale, but I didn’t give up. I turned grief and misery into light and creativity. Making myself an example, I tried to show everyone that anything is possible through persistence, hard work, and dedication. Even the most difficult situations can be turned into creative ones if we resist, seeking and finding the light through spiritual paths.
TNH: Tell us your thoughts and feelings about the Greek language.
DD: As a young man, native to Greek, I regard Greek as the mother of all languages. This happens because Greek encourages the brain to think systematically and allows everyone to approach all subjects with deep understanding and flexibility, let alone permitting a deeper knowledge of European history and culture. Greece is the cradle of civilization, and we all have to be very proud of it. But this is not enough. It requires a lot of effort to sustain a good level of the Greek spoken language.
Having said the above, I aim to inspire children, the young generation, not only to learn the Greek language systematically but also to obtain cultural awareness, which is something much more essential and is undoubtedly the cornerstone of every educated and intellectual individual. In that way, the pillars of the educational building and the future of Greece will not be precarious.
I feel deep love and affection for the Greek language, but not primarily because it is my native mother tongue, but because it is an amazing language. It fascinates me with the richness of words and the profound and analytical thinking it makes possible, and so on. The Greek language has also influenced mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy. Additionally, it has played a significant role in the world for centuries.
In summer, I had the unique opportunity to recite both of my awarded poems at AHEPA’s Supreme Convention, where I was fortunate enough to meet young men and women who could speak Greek perfectly well. I was so touched.
TNH: How do you define intelligence?
DD: Intelligence is the way you perceive situations or messages and transform them into reality, or actions, usually for better and not for worse. Intelligence contributes to professional reasoning and enables you to apply knowledge to more significant causes, such as eliminating famine, climate change, and assisting the poor and the disadvantaged through particular programs and initiatives.
TNH: Where do you see yourself in the future?
DD: As far as the future is concerned, I would like to contribute to human society by promoting the greater good and being a positive example and a source of inspiration besides excelling in my daily job. I am very much interested in history, languages, and literature. At the time being, I am thinking of pursuing ;aw, combined with studying languages; maybe that will lead me to the Diplomatic Service.
The presentation of the English poetic compilation under the title ‘Searching for My Footsteps will be launched on the 17th of December at 6 PM in the Philhellenism Museum, Zisimopoulou 12.
Searching for my footsteps: Despotidis, Dimosthenis – Dimitrios: 9786185522100, is available at Amazon.com.
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