It’s time for the next installment in our series of Q&A with Greek-Americans living in Greece. This time, we caught up with Chicago Native Harry Sirounis.
Meet Harry Sirounis
Among our most popular articles of 2016 were Q&As with Greek-Americans living in Greece. We, too, have enjoyed sharing their stories about why they moved to Greece, what they’re doing, and why they stay. We’re thrilled to continue this series in 2017. Let’s meet Harry Sirounis!
Maria A. Karamitsos: You’re originally from Chicago. Tell us about your time here.
Harry Sirounis: I was born in 1968 in Chicago, the son of first generation Greek American immigrants. I stayed in Chicago until 1982 when we decided to go to Greece. I came back for a short visit in 2008.
MAK: Where is your family from in Greece?
HS: They are from a village in Arcadia. The rural community is Kynouria and in particular Kastri, the largest village in the area.
MAK: Tell us about your Greek community connections in Chicago, prior to leaving.
HS: I went to a Greek-American school, Socrates, and graduated from 8th grade before leaving. My parents tried always to keep the Greek language and tradition in the family and we would always go to church on Sunday (Holy Trinity). I was enrolled in GOYA before leaving and in general we always tried to keep a close contact with fellow Greek-Americans.
MAK: When did you move to Greece? What precipitated the move?
HS: In 1982. It was my parents decision since at the time most of my mother’s relatives, especially her mother left for Greece, and also because there was no Greek high school at the time. So it was a decision to go back to the original roots.
MAK: Do you still have family in the US? Do you visit often?
HS: Yes my close family — uncles, cousins etc. — are mainly in Chicago, Indiana, and Florida. Unfortunately I do not visit that often.
MAK: Did you attend university in the US?
HS: No. My undergraduate degree in Economics is from a Greek university and my postgraduate degree in Finance was from the University of Lancaster, UK.
MAK: How do you like living in Greece? Was it easy to adjust?
HS: It took me a couple of years to adjust. Apart from that life is good in Greece. However, the recession that last 8 years has made it difficult for everyone.
MAK: Give a little perspective on being a Greek-American living in Greece.
HS: It helps, as being an immigrant builds your character and way of thinking.
MAK: Tell us what kind of work you do. How’s it going?
HS: I’m an audit partner at KPMG in Greece. Our offices employ nearly 450 people and we have a good reputation in the market. The recession has led to some difficulties in expanding and increasing revenues, but we’re doing the best we can.
MAK: With all the challenges, why do you stay in Greece?
HS: I have a family now and it is difficult to leave it all and start again. I believe in life you should fight no matter what the circumstances are. In any event, I am preparing my kids if they ever want to change their lives and pursue a future in the US.
MAK: Why is it important for Greeks to stay, and work through it?
HS: Greece’s future lies with the young generation with fresh ideas and innovation. If the good leave, the ones left behind will not be able to help.
MAK: What should people outside of Greece know?
HS: That Greece to an extent is a miniature vision of what is happening elsewhere. Greece was always poor and dependent on foreign aid after 400 years slavery, a country with lots of mountains on the border of Europe. Therefore, Greece grew based on aid from elsewhere. Greece is now trying to change its future and make structural changes that are necessary to be independent. This takes time.
MAK: What can Greeks outside of Greece do to promote Greece, and to help?
HS: Always feel proud of being Greek. That whatever they hear from the local news is not always the truth and they should also read the Greek news websites to get a better picture. People should know that in the end, Greece will survive as God loves Greece!
Until next time…
We hope you enjoyed meeting Harry Sirounis. We’ll introduce you to another Greek-American in Greece soon.