A Greek photographer is taking his compatriots on a journey to China, with online tours organized by the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation in the port of Piraeus.
From Feb. 16 until April 11, amateur photographer and environmentalist Nikos Stantzos will act as an online tour guide for Beijing and its outskirts, as well as the ancient capitals and the country’s borders. Stantzos will give five presentations for Greek people, called “Traveling to China,” which are free of charge.
Stantzos lived in Beijing from 2012 to 2017, working for a German company as an expert in energy, renewables and climate change. He has taken more than 20,000 photos in China, and found the time to tidy up his archive during the pandemic. He decided to share his pictures and experiences to show his people the lesser-known side of a country he has grown to love.
Stantzos has traveled to over 20 Chinese provinces to date, and is planning more adventures in the future, he told Xinhua in a recent online interview. Speaking from Singapore, where he is now based, he said:
“Beijing, when I moved in 2012, was a city that was just basking in the glory of the 2008 (Summer) Olympics. That was definitely a high point for the city. Because of my work there, I had to travel extensively all over China … That gave me an exposure to how variable and how amazing basically China is.”
He was also impressed by the organization of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
“I think that these Olympic Games show a China that it is more, if you like, confident and relaxed, compared with the first Olympics (2008),” he told Xinhua.
“The Chinese did an amazing job to reuse a lot of the facilities. For example, the water tube that became the ice tube … I thought that was a very good symbolism of how we can actually reuse facilities,” he said.
Stantzos’ main motivation for the “Traveling to China” series was to contribute to understanding between the East and West. He wanted to show the China he saw and experienced, which is very different from what is sometimes being reported by mainstream Western media, he explained.
“My message is that you have to go out and find out China with your own eyes … go there with an open mind and I guarantee you you’re going to like it or at least you’re going to find a lot of things you like,” he said.
Konstantinos Mazarakis Ainian, General Director of the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation, was happy to see the strong interest Greeks showed for China during the first presentation.
“What impressed us is that the approximately 600 viewers who started watching the series at the beginning of the first episode did not decrease until the end,” he told Xinhua, adding that viewers had bombarded Stantzos with questions.
The foundation, which is a cultural and educational organization promoting Greek letters and historical and nautical research, has a close partnership with Tsinghua University in Beijing, as well as the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
“We thought that an important parameter that can bring China closer to Greece is for the average Greek to get to know China in a non-academic way, as a tourist. So we arranged and organized this series of five trips to China that I believe gives … a complete picture of China as it is today, highlighting culture, history, way of life,” he explained.
“Traveling to China” is presented within the framework of the Center for China Studies, which was established two years ago at the Foundation in collaboration with CASS, to enhance bilateral cultural relations, promote Chinese culture in Greece, and produce scientific work in the fields of Humanities and Social Sciences.