Students found fame in Athens through creating a video
It all began with some sort of reaffirmation. “The draft of the new education law states that Greek will dissappear from secondary education. The onus is on the Murcian Association of Latin and Greek teachers and I asked them for money to get the ball rolling on a project that tries to show what great amount we owe to Greece,” recalls Arístides Mínguez, a teacher of Classical language at IES Juan de la Cierva and the man whose energy created the video. He then contacted a friend with connections in the audiovisual world, Pedro Pruneda, and began making ‘Gracias, Grecia’. More than a hundred people participated; the schools put its weight behind the project. Staging took over two weeks until the finished product appeared on 12th diciembre 2012 at the Universidad de Murcia.
The rest is history, yet in truth Minguez did no more than what he set out to. After a few tweaks it was uploaded onto YouTube this January and it began to transmit through the social media. In February, in some way or another the video reached Greece. “Pedro, the producer, called me and told me that something was happening because it was spreading on YouTube and was registering 5,000 views per minute, more than 200,000 per day. We didn’t know what was happening,” recalls Arístides. What happened was that Greece began to spread the video and made it viral to the extent that it reached the news bulletins, the front pages of the Greek papers and it became the most important item of news for a few days. 48 hours after it began to spread like fire, the school received a phone call from the Greek embassy in Spain thanking them for “lifting moral”.
“The Greek media outlets began to call us. Sure I know my Classical Greek but not modern Greek; so Classical Greek is how I was able to participate on the radio and television channels. In one of the interviews, when I uttered the words “thank you very much, mother Greece”, the radio presenter broke into tears.” Emotion in Greece seeped through colleges and schools and the media outlets echoed the work of the Mercian instutution. “In the interviews they told us that they were tired of the bad name that they were having in Europe and that they needed the recognition to reclaim the self-esteem that was lost in the crisis.”
A few weeks ago, a group from IES Ingeniero de la Cierva got organised and travelled to Greece. Over in Greece they found out about the visiting group and some association similar to “the Rotary Club” planned a series of visits and meetings for them to get to know some Greek figures. “Having barely arrived we had a meeting with the Greek Minister for Culture and when we appeared we found ourselves in a press conference with all the Greek and international media outlets. We didn’t know where to look, we were amazed by the interest our visit has provoked.” The Minister for Foreign Affairs also received them and showed them a video inspired by the making of our sketch, with a greater budget and with actors such as Sean Connery taking part.
“One night, part of the group who went to Greece was having dinner at a small restaurant when someone recognised who they were. A lady then came in tears, looking in her bag to find something that she can give us as a souvenir and she could only find a used rubber for pencils. She gave it to one of the teachers, Pati López, who still keeps it as if it is an old relic. As she handed it over, the lady took her hands and kissed as a gesture of thanks,with tears in her eyes.”
An audience with the ambassador
The kids who took part in the video know that their project has given much happiness to a people suffering in a crisis. Yet, when they began, they would find it difficult to believe that their project would be any more than a clip doing the rounds or a clip for friends and family, that it would be anticipated by the public. On 18th May a few teachers of IES Ingeniero de la Cierva will travel to Madrid, where they will be received by the Greek ambassador in order that they could be thanks. “They felt as if Europe has given up caring about them; with this we expressed love and respect. The fact that Greece have responded in this way have been very moving.”
(This is the translation of a La Verdad article from Spanish, written by M. Carmen Ramíirez. The original can be found here, as can the video referred to in the article: http://www.laverdad.es/murcia/v/20130502/murcia/patino-revoluciona-grecia-20130502.html
You can follow Arístides Mínguez on Twitter here: @ArstidesMinguez; tweets mostly in Spanish.)