When I had thought of some stereotypes I held for Greek culture, few came to mind. I realized I didn’t know enough about that culture to even begin to hold any stereotypes. Much of my understanding stemmed from mythological studies about Greek gods and goddesses from thousands of years ago. I think it’s fascinating to visualize how old Greece is compared to the United States. For example, when I had asked Xristos about any stereotypes Greek citizens held about Americans, he brought up that Greeks didn’t particularly have any, but years ago they had thought America was the country of opportunities. This sparked some interest about the type of political structure Greece had. I learned they have a parliamentary democracy that is different from the United States, where there is a presidential democracy. The main distinction is that, in Greek government, the chief executive is appointed and continues to be a member of the legislative branch or parliament. In the United States, the chief executive is elected separately and is not a member of the legislative branch.
I couldn’t believe how much Xristos knew about a culture from which he was so geographically distant. I had wondered how Greek education was structured. Xristos explained that Greece had a lot of technical universities in which countless students enrolled. But, unfortunately, the majority of Greeks must work immediately after secondary schooling to help their families. This emphasized the distinct cultural values each country upholds. It made me think of the individualistic dimension and exemplified the tight bonds that Greek families have with one another and the reality that children actually limit their education to help their families financially. Greece, therefore, would definitely be considered a collectivist culture where people consider the group first before acting in an individual manner. While speaking on behalf of education and jobs, Xristos also said, “The popular professions in Greece are lawyers, doctors and civil engineers, and Greek parents believe if their children do these jobs, they will have high social status.” Some other similarities that were also brought up in comparison were how Greeks did business. I realized while speaking with Xristos that he always held eye contact and listened until the very last of my sentence with a slight pause to see if I was completely done speaking. Even with our thick language barrier, when he didn’t understand a question I had asked, he always thought it was somehow his fault for not interpreting the English language correctly.
It became obvious throughout our discussion how influential Xristos’s family was in shaping his life decisions and how it highlighted how Greeks truly respect age and position in their culture. He also explained that he worked part-time in an insurance office with his father. He clarified the fact that Greek families are reliant on each other for jobs and job opportunities. An older family member is expected to help the younger family members get jobs and maintain a job.
I was curious about religion and the importance it served within the Greek culture. Xristos explained that all Greeks were Christian Orthodox. I thought this was extremely surprising because in the United States there is such a wide range of religions and the freedom to choose which ever one to practice. Xristos also mentioned that, in the past, religion meant a lot to Greek people, but now it doesn’t. I was astonished about how the military was structured in Greece. Xristos said, “Every Greek man must go into the military for nine months after school or after university. One of the nine months is near the borders. The worst thing in the military is if you personally know somebody in a senior position, you can’t go and do everything you want.” Unlike U.S. society, it is obvious that Greece is a society that believes hierarchy should be respected and inequalities among people are highly acceptable. This is also supported by the fact that women are not allowed to serve in the military.
Throughout my findings, I couldn’t help but keep in mind all the adjustments a U.S. public relations practitioner would have to make to effectively communicate in a Greek environment. The United States is a very low power distance and low uncertainty avoidance country. Greece is the complete opposite. If I could make up a cultural metaphor for Greece, I think it would be an antique shop. Greeks value older citizens, and Greece, itself, is an extremely old country. A public relations practitioner would need to do extensive research about Greece before effectively carrying out a strategic campaign in this ancient country.