What Ecogenia means to me, for Greece, and for our times

Picture of Anne Germanacos

Anne Germanacos

Author, educator, and long standing philanthropist shares a brief reflection on Ecogenia's impact and why she has chosen to champion active climate citizenship in Greece by supporting Ecogenialor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit dolor

I’m a fifth-generation San Franciscan who has, at 65, spent more than half my life living in Greece, first in Kalymnos and then in Crete.
My husband’s family is Greek, Greek-Cypriot, and Greek-Welsh if that is a thing….
My family is Jewish, and Ashkenazi. As I said: I was born in San Francisco to a family quite rooted here. It’s probably the reason I sought something different and halfway across the world at 17…
In Greece, I raised two children and together with my husband, Nick Germanacos, ran an immersive cultural study program focusing on modern Greece for American high school and college students. We did this for thirty years. Our program produced some of the top scholars in modern Greek studies and translation, including Christine Philliou at UC Berkeley, Karen Van Dyck at Columbia, Karen Emmerich at Princeton. Beyond the big names, our students (there are close to a thousand) look back to their semester with us as a turning point in their lives, a rite of passage. Our students left with questions they hadn’t previously been able to formulate and were on the path to a variety of answers.
I mention these things because they shed light on my life in Greece and highlight my reasons for supporting Ecogenia: I know Greece’s strengths and weaknesses from the inside. I’ve lived through teacher strikes that kept my kids home for months; I watched the majority of top students leave the country for higher education and work elsewhere. I’ve seen immaculate Greek homes and trash-strewn beaches. I understand the difference between a shame culture, where appearance matters more than reality, and a guilt culture, where conscience holds you accountable.
Ecogenia combines the virtues of American experiential education with the many beauties of Greek reality. Its founders have lived both, and more: it’s why they’ve been able to formulate a program that appears to be EXACTLY right both for Greece and for our times.
Philanthropically speaking, one never knows if one’s investment will yield. It’s always something of a gamble. But my sense is that both Greece and the world have been waiting for Ecogenia. It engages youth in obvious and important ways. It utilizes a vast array of tools to work toward building something both absolutely necessary and beautiful. To me, it offers the quiet revolution we need: turning students away from the abyss of consumerism and the isolation of technology toward something rooted in the earth, and other human beings. Wasn’t Greece ALWAYS good at doing that?!
Anne Germanacos and the Ecogenia Team, February 2023