The HIGGS office is in one of Athens’ most multicultural neighborhoods, and the coexistence of so many nationalities and cultures seems fairly seamless and peaceful from what we’ve observed. As non-Greek myself, I’ve found this diverse neighborhood to be both welcoming and interesting. We have already found a favorite among the many kebab restaurants on the block, the women at the Bulgarian grocery store next door take the time to explain the different pastries to me, and the Bangladeshi hairdresser down the street even bought me a coffee one morning when I was early to work.
This afternoon we visited the Wednesday fruit market around the corner from our office, and we got a glimpse into the daily interactions between Greeks and the people of other nationalities in the Metaxourghio neighborhood. Immigrants and Greeks alike walked between stalls selling cherries, apricots, and olives to do their weekly shopping. The daily coexistence of so many people alongside each other here isn’t a grand political or humanitarian statement—the integration has happened naturally, and it’s business as usual.