Mar 13, 2012

Nga Borina Voko per Sofia Hilentzaris - GUEST WRITER 2

Nga Borina Voko interviste me Sofia Hilentzaris - GUEST WRITER

With the stars of the night sky

I write you name
so the whole world can see it
and your vision will shine

Peace, tomorrow morning
I ask you to rise,
rise so the guns and the weapons
you can melt, and love may prevail

Peace, tomorrow morning
I ask you to do your magic,
turn the guns and the weapons into
embraces and food for all your children

Dr. Hilentzaris, before we go on discussing your poetry tell me a little about your self.
I was born in Greece and left for the USA to be educated there at the age of thirteen. So, I went to high school and also completed my undergraduate and graduate school in Chicago. While working for La Rabida Chidlren’s Hospital - University of Chicago partner, I taught in the field of business at the raduate and undergraduate level in different colleges and universities because I liked to share my professional experiences with students and bring them closer to actual organizational life. In 2002 I decided to edicate all my time to education and therefore I also started to use online technologies and methodologies in teaching as well as train other professors on how to use these tools.
In 2003 we decided with my family to move to Greece and I have being here since then even though I do a lot of international traveling due to my job and interests. I have served at the American College of Greece and the American College of Thessaloniki. I also worked for the Skai Media group in Greece as an executive consultant for a few years. Currently I am Vice-Chancellor at the University of Indianapolis, Athens.

What are your current responsibilities at the university?
My current responsibilities include the oversight of the Office of Student Affairs, Financial Aid, Recruitment and Admissions-Undergraduate and Graduate Offices, and Study Abroad and Exchange Programs. As the Vice Chancellor, I am also responsible for promoting the mission of the university and ensuring that the students who wish to study in Greece as degree-seeking students or study abroad students receive top quality American higher education. The mission of the university is to prepare its students for effective, responsible, and articulate membership in the complex societies in which they
live and serve, and for excellence and leadership in their personal and professional lives. 
As the Vice Chancellor, I am also responsible for the oversight of Study Abroad and Exchange Programs such as “The Odyssey in Athens” study abroad program. This program has a unique curriculum since it offers a diverse variety of accredited upper- level courses. 

Do you any have children?
I do have children. My son graduated this year from Northwestern University in Chicago as a mechanical engineer and is now a graduate student in the mechanical engineering department at the University of California at Santa Barbara. My daughter just turned 17 and her goal is to get into a top university in the USA, so she will be a freshman in college next year. My son loves soccer and my daughter loves dancing. 

How do you like working in Europe, is it different than the USA?
I like change. Europe is different than the US in various ways. Language, culture, history, traditions, landscape, climate, - all are different. But I like variety and I love to meet different people and from different cultures so Europe and Greece are an ideal setting for that.
In the US of course there is a lot of diversity too but it is different. Of course within Europe and the USA there are different cultures and peoples so it is fun in either place, we learn a lot by coming into contact with others, and that is what I appreciate also as the Vice Chancellor, I get to meet students and professors from all over the world, it is really exciting job.

So, where does poetry fit into all this?
Well, first of all I am a business manager by profession. 
I have accumulated more then 25 years in the for-profit and non-profit business world internationally including in education and healthcare. But I am also blessed with a creative soul which is sensitive to others’ dreams, loves, and longings to find the purpose of their life, or purposes in the lives. And that is where poetry comes in. I can listen to someone’s story and the next thing I know I am writing poetry.  Most of my inspiration though comes when I am by the sea.
I love the sea, its colors, its sounds, they way it smells, the way it tastes. I love to breath the air that comes to my lungs after the waves crash on rugged rocks. I love everything about the sea and I admire her power. She is ever changing, beautiful, powerful and a “trismegistus” creator herself. Trismegistus
freely translated in Greek means “three- times Great” or “three-times Powerful.” A few years back I read my teenage diary which I had not read for a long time.
In the pages I discovered that I had written that I love to write poetry and listen to music.
So, sooner or later we all meet our destiny I guess. Personally, I was writing poetry on and off without
paying any attention to the creative side of myself almost all my life and of course I had forgotten my teenage diary writings. Then in one week a few years back I wrote about 120 poems. Since then I can write with a little trigger of inspiration.
I am also a great lover of books, I cannot stay away from good books. If I like a book I can read it in a
day, it is like food for my soul, I cannot wait to see what the author will write next on the page. I also like to read a variety of books in history, biology, sociology, philosophy. I do not discriminate, except that I would probably not read a statistics book for leisure. And of course my mother is an unknown poet - but I know her well- so maybe there is a genetic predisposition that surfaces when the environment is fertile.

Who is your favorite writer / Poet?

There are so many great writers and poets past and present but my favorite contemporary writer is Gabriel García Márquez and my favorite contemporary poet is Odysseas Elytis.
I also adore the Ancient myths and folklore stories. And of course I cannot leave out historians and philosophers. From the past, I am particularly intrigued and inspired by Homer, Socrates, Aristophanes, Epictetus, Herodotus and Marcus Aurelius.
The bottom line is I don’t know who to live out. There are so many great past and present great people that it is hard for one to choose. But I am equally intrigued and inspired by artists such as Raphael and Michelangelo and scientists like Einstein and Stephen Hawking. I am especially indebted to Raphael because he did not forget Ypatia in his School of Athens painting.
Women in the past have not received the attention they deserved, but Raphael did not forget to pay tribute to Ypatia in his beautiful painting. Who can I live out? Our world is so rich with great talent, I just wish we humans would find a way to all live peacefully, then we would be more creative as a species.

What language do you usually write poetry in? Dream in?

You know, this is really an interesting question. 
I usually write poetry in Greek even though most of my professional life correspondence, articles and books are in English and I dream in English.
The book I am currently writing on Leadership and Creativity is in English; but sometimes I write poetry in English and dream in Greek, and I know for certain that I dream in colors. I am surprised to hear from some people that they dream in black and white. Maybe this is a good research question for a scientist to explore.
Why some people dream in color and some in black and white? 
If I had the means I would scientifically explore this question. The poems in this interview were written in
Greek and I translated them in English, I hope they make sense in English to others, to me they do since I wrote them, so we are putting them to the test with your interview and publication. I wish that someday I can write in another language, maybe Spanish or Italian. I have collaborated with the Albanian Writers Abroad society and published several poems along with Albanian writers and poets and others from around the globe but it was in Greek.
The publication includes Albanian, Greek and English, so it is multi-language.

What do you think about the future of the world? 
The future of writing?
Humans are co-creators in their future, we kind of write our own stories, we have a lot to do with building our trajectories in life. Yes, there is a lot of people born into unfortunate situations in this world but in a global world we are having more and more choices. You can be poor and happy or you can be rich and delusional. The technology we have developed can assist us to feed everybody or kill everybody.
That is a choice.
Think of the status of women 100 years back or other minorities in the different parts of the world, how much choice did they have back then? The question is how do we all progress together little by little every day. And of course there are set-backs but there is no good reason to give up on Love, Peace and Happiness for all and forget what Thomas Jefferson, Ypatia, Fromm and so many others have taught us. I think the future of the world depends on writers and poets. Writers and poets have the ability to inspire others towards Excellence and towards Greatness of the human spirit- the scientist in the lab, the teacher in the classroom, the doctor in the hospital, the business leader, the world leaders, all need inspiration towards Excellence and Greatness of the human spirit.
Writers and poets have been blessed with the talent and the creative soul to lead others towards human perfection. Socrates, the great philosopher, stated that goodness is knowledge, it is an arête, knowledge transfer is possible through communication- writing and poetry are the greatest tools of communication. Writers and poets need to inspire others though not make them feel bad.
I don’t like to read or write gloomy, end-of the world kind of stories or poetry. I am inspired by the great things in nature and in the human soul and this is what I like to share with others though my poetry, and try to convince them that Peace is our opportunity to be all be Great, “three-times Great”, “three-times Powerfull” like Trismegistus.

*GUEST WRITER*

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