Eleni Petala talks to us
Eleni Petala is a graduate of the Department of Archives, Library Science and Museology of the Ionian University, specializing in Cultural Management. She has attended seminars on Museum Pedagogy and Children’s Books Writing. Now she works in her family business on yachts chartering and at the same time she writes fairy tales. Eleni Petala talks to us about her work, the writing of her first fairy tale and the way she sees life.
Tell us about your work.
My work is related to tourism. I have taken over the family business, whose object is the chartering of yachts.
At the same time, I also write and in April 2021, I published my first fairy tale, “Do books actually talk?”
It’s a fairy tale about the role of books in our lives.
What is your relationship with the local area?
My relationship with the area began many years ago, when our vacation house was built in Galatas. The first few years, admittedly, I didn’t come so often. But for the last five years or so I have been coming to Galatas some days at Christmas or Easter and certainly in the summer. There is no way that I won’t come here in the summer. I’ve bonded emotionally with the place, every time it’s like discovering it anew in some way.
I notice spots that I hadn’t noticed before, I discover new places, I do simple, everyday things that I did not do before, because I felt like a visitor, transient. And that’s how I discovered Katheti, one day that I happened to be outside your space. And I noticed it because I had begun to pay attention.
I have essentially been “living” and listening to the area for the last five years. And I think I have a lot more to discover. That’s why I want my visits here to become more frequent.
How have your work and your life been affected by the financial and now by the health crisis, and how do you deal with it?
The economic crisis has of course affected my work, as tourism is a sector that is directly affected in times of economic crises. Holidays automatically turn into luxury or fall to the bottom of the list, since the priorities change dramatically and attention is focused on covering the practical daily needs. Also, the economic crisis creates insecurity for the present and the future, so again the holidays are “displaced” in some way from the list.
The health crisis has also affected my work, since the final recipients of our services are people from all over Europe. And the health crisis is also having economic implications.
Internally, some facts also changed, i.e. some exhibitions did not take place, some events took place digitally, some meetings are now taking place via Skype Call, even now. I believe that this part will also contribute a lot to the way in which we will work in the future.
On the other hand, this benefited my writing activity, as I took advantage of this time by channeling my energy into something I also love very much. During the lockdown, I attended some additional seminars on writing children’s books and completed my first fairy tale. Apart from the joy of this dream’s fulfillment, I also feel a deep satisfaction, because I have made the most of this period of social isolation.
As far as my life is concerned, what has affected me quite a bit during the pandemic period was this isolation and phobia that suddenly sprouted within us. Phobia to approach a familiar person, to touch them. Unwittingly, we became inaccessible, and my greatest fear was that: not to get used to this pattern, not to accept it as normal.
Which of your knowledge and personality traits have been most useful to you in your professional life?
Trying to learn my own self, analyze me and put me under the microscope, is a guide that has been proven valuable not only for my work but also for my life.
An element that has helped me a lot is my desire to constantly acquire new knowledge, through seminars, conferences, workshops. Both about my work and my writing activity.
I will always gain something that will give me a stimulus, it will give birth to a new idea, it will illuminate a point, it will perhaps give a solution to a problem. The most important thing of all is the birth of new ideas.
What would you like to improve in your personality or work? What are your weaknesses and how have they influenced you?
What I would like to improve is the adherence to the schedules that I set, because sometimes I fail to keep to them. Either because I overestimate what can be implemented in a certain period of time or because I do not manage time properly.
And then I necessarily “run” to catch up and that’s not good, because it creates pressure and mistakes can be made.
What would you do differently and what do you consider as right steps in your career?
What I would do differently is to weigh better the decisions I was making in the context of my work. Because years ago, I was making decisions, I was setting a goal, I was excited, I had ideas, I started the implementation and somewhere along the way I would leave it, I would stop. Because there was no more excitement. And so, valuable time was lost. Now when I make a decision, I commit to implement it and take it to the end.
What helped me in my development is that, even though the family business existed, I was free to study and follow the path I wanted. Because I never had any pressure from my family. And I owe that to my mother, and I thank her for that, who created this business, yet did not push me, nor did she ever take it for granted that I would take it on.
The course I charted before I entered the business was very important. I got to know very well the labor market, I found myself in unpleasant but also wonderful working conditions, I met people from other working environments, of different perceptions and way of thinking. And this greatly enriched my experiences.
What piece of advice would you give to a young person who would like to do what you do?
To proceed with courage and determination. We live in a country where tourism is flourishing and will be always flourishing. It is a huge and multi-layered field, where a young person can create and innovate with new services.
Technology is an ally in all fields. In tourism, too, the way services are provided is changing and new ideas are constantly being born.
And if a person loves something else at the same time, don’t give up. Because one complements the other and they create a beautiful condition of energy and balance.
What are your plans for the future, short-term and long-term ones?
Regarding my work, I plan to develop some new services. Regarding writing, I am preparing the new, improved version of my fairy tale “Do books actually talk?”, as well as another fairy tale, which is in the stage of editing
What else would you like to add?
Congratulations for your work and the effort you put in. Giving to a place that does not have access to various activities and cultural events is always of great value.