It was a great honor to be invited to the KNE 42nd Odigitis Festival. It was equally a great honor to represent the League of Young Communists USA (LYCUSA). The KNE is the Communist Youth of Greece, the equivalent of the LYCUSA in their country. This was my first international event and it was a lot of fun!
The Odigitis Festival (Odigitis, “Guide” in Greek, is the name of the KNE youth publication) is a culmination of KNE celebrations held every year. The dates of the Festival typically coincide with the dates of Greek revolutionary struggles, such as the student uprisings against the military dictatorships of the 20th century. Additionally, the year 2016 was the 70th anniversary of the Greek Democratic Army, and there was a museum area set up in one area of the Odigitis Festival.
The Odigitis Festival lasted three days. During the day, I met with comrades from other Communist youth organizations, then we would all get together for an event. We went and saw the Acropolis. I never thought I would see it. Another event was the International Seminar of the Communist Youth of Greece. Later, at night, we would all go back to the Odigitis Festival.
The Odigitis Festival is a sight to behold. Easily over 100,000 people attended every night. There were three main stages, where typically there was live music. The music genres ranged: traditional, but also rock, rap, and anything in between. However, most of the music was revolutionary music, songs about the Greek Democratic Army and other famous Communist songs. I enjoy Greek traditional music, especially because the lyrics were about the struggle for socialism! One night also featured a speech by the General Secretary of the KKE (Communist Party of Greece), along with other speakers, like a comrade from the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Every speech was informative and powerful.
There was an International City at the Odigitis Festival, where 32 Communist youth organizations from around the world had booths. The LYCUSA shared a booth with the Munkaspart of Hungary, who are great comrades! I brought with me many books published by Red Star Publishers: The History of the CPUSA by William Z. Foster, Trotskyism: Counter Revolution in Disguise by J. Olgin, books from Grover Furr, and many other books, which I sold to the many passers-by, most of whom were grateful to be able to obtain such works, which are hard to find in Greece. I also brought with me brochures, pamphlets, and information about the LYCUSA, the PCUSA, and US Friends, which I distributed very quickly. Next year we will bring more! The US Friends of the Soviet People was very popular, especially with the comrades from Russia. US Friends also works with Jeff Monson, an American and a famous fighter who now has gyms in the Donetsk and Lugansk region, who is a very vocal supporter of the Soviet Union and of Communism.
The highlights for me of my participation in Athens were meetings with the PCUSA’s fraternal Parties (PCM, PCPE, KKE, RWCP (B), KPRF, Munkaspart, CP of Italy, etc), and also the people of Athens itself. I really enjoyed travelling around the city – but the best part was the KKE. I seemed that everyone, from the hotel staff to bus drivers, curators to secretaries, was a member of the KKE. For example, I would meet people working during the day in Athens, only to see them later at the Odigitis Festival. It was very inspiring! Additionally, I also met with many Communist Greeks who used to live in the US, and we talked about the situation here.
I am very thankful for being able to participate, and the entire trip was very inspiring. I know that I personally learned very much and I also made many great contacts.