Small, but Mighty
By Daphne Morgen
I arrived back in Greece last week on May 17th, nearly a year to the day when we first began the pilot phase of Youth UnMuted. It feels as if I haven’t been gone at all, and as I watch from the bus window as we drive to the center of Athens, I smile to myself. Here I am again.
It is hard to articulate in words, what my time in Greece has been like since I first arrived in 2016. I can use adjectives such as intense, beautiful, humbling, devastating, but each one requires an explanation. A story.
On the street at my friend’s house, I pack all of the Youth UnMuted gear into the car, recalling the amount of times I have schlepped these Mary Poppins-like suitcases around Greece. On trains, ferries, cars, and soon, on planes back to the U.S. and to the border of Mexico.
I drive 500km North to Thessaloniki where we will be facilitating our next round of workshops. I am always struck by the beauty of the countryside in Greece. The turquoise sea to my right, mountains and wildflowers ablaze to my left. Yet, intertwined in the beauty and culture that is Greece are thousands of beings who have landed on her shores and are tucked away in refugee camps, hidden from the average eye.
I pass the signs to the towns, and each time, I felt my heart in my throat. Malakassa. Ritsona. Lavrio. Thermopolis. From the highway all I can see is the road, but I know that beyond this lies camps with tents and portable boxes and people who still live in limbo, waiting to know their futures.
And that’s the thing about someone who witnesses that reality: once you know, you have to decide what to do with that knowledge. And that is what Youth UnMuted is. It’s our way of acknowledging and humanizing the thousands upon thousands of voices that wait, ignored amongst these hills, mountains, small villages and rolling farmlands.
So here we are, one year later, small but mighty. Every now and then, after hundreds of hours of working for little to no pay, learning new systems and software, navigating foreign countries, asking people for money, and living out of a suitcase we ask ourselves, “WHY?!” But we know why. It isn’t because we are “so good” or that we “want to save the world,” it is because we have seen the power of what listening, hearing and sharing stories can do. And in this world, at this moment, we cannot afford to not listen to our youth. We owe them that much.