Equal Citizens | Interview with Sarah
What does Greek citizenship mean to you? To be Greek?
For me, to have a Greek citizenship means that my rights are recognized as a citizen of the Greek society, not only because I was born and I live here, but because I have the Greek education.
What does the country of your parents mean to you?
I consider the country of my parents as a part of myself, of my identity, something that completes me as a human being. Even if I was not born, nor have lived in the Philippines for more than a year, I cannot think of myself as a complete human being without them. The country of my parents is unquestionably my country as well, because these are my origins and this is not something I can or want to change.
Do you feel that, up to now, the citizenship issue for the second generation kids was locked up away for a particular reason?
For a specific or deliberate reason, no, I don’t think so. What I believe is that the way in which the Greek or any other society responds to its immigrant population is very important. It is also really important the fact that Greece, up to 25 years ago, was believed to be a homogeneous country and the migration flows are something new, specially compared to other European countries that were already used to including old and new immigrants. Like any other society, Greece is not ready for something the country has never faced, the issue of citizenship or the integration of immigrants for example. In this particular moment, there is no legal framework for social integration, either we are talking about people that were born in Greece or not, there is ignorance and misinformation that have a negative impact.
What is the most extreme racist behavior you have ever received?
Honestly, there was never something that extreme. Only the usual stuff, being called a little Chinese girl when we went on an excursion with school. Maybe the fact that I attended an Intercultural School in Nea Ionia had something to do with it, being with children from many different countries along with Greeks. I only remember once on the street when someone said “What are you doing here? Everyone came here and the Greeks are out on the streets. Go away”.
Do you think that your life is going to change or, at least, many “weird” looks will change as soon as you get the official papers from the State recognizing you as a Greek citizen?
I can call myself Greek today, this is how my friends see me, but I don’t think that others are going to change the way they think in only one day and everything is going to be fine. It’s only papers. Papers do not change the behavior or the thoughts of a person. Papers facilitate life in terms of mobility, access in the labor market, the right to vote etc, but they do not guarantee change or that everybody is going to treat me like an equal citizen of the country. I do not expect that. We have a long way to reach the point where nobody is going to have to pass the “worthy test” in order to get citizenship, especially when we talk about youngsters who were born and/or raised in Greece.