Fay Orfanidou talks to us
Fay Orfanidou, member and and Executive Director of Katheti, holds a BA in Studies in Hellenic Cultural Studies and two MAs: in Social Sciences and in Education and Human Rights. For 20 years she was working as a translator and subtitler from and to English, Spanish, Italian and German. She has also worked in the field of civil society, for WWF Greece and for Fair Trade Hellas, as Project Manager. She has attended seminars about Facilitating of Educational Programs, Cultural Management, Human Resources Management, Public Relations, Project Management. Strategy for Small and Medium NGOs and Business Coaching. She will participate as a career guidance counselor and coach in Katheti’s new “Life and Career” program.
Tell us about your work.
I am a member and Executive Director of Katheti. Katheti launches “Life and Career”, a program of professional and personal development, career orientation and skill building. This program will offer career counseling, coaching sessions and a range of personal and professional development videos. These are remarkable services, that students and professionals in the area would not necessarily have access to. This program is at the heart of Katheti’s goal for the sustainable development of the local area.
What is your relationship with the local area?
I live in Lemonodasos, I work in Galatas, my parents live on Poros island. I grew up in the wider area of Athens, but my mother is from Poros. She belongs to the Vettas family. I have spent half my life here: weekends, holidays, bank holidays; and since 2012, I am trying to become a permanent resident. Initially, I was a founding member of Litrivi, a cultural venue at Pounta, Poros, and since 2017, I founded Katheti, together with my cousin Eva Douzina.
How has crisis affected your work and your life and how do you deal with it?
I answer this question in the midst of a new, perhaps more significant, crisis, due to Covid-19. The answer in both cases is the same: Of course, both my work and my life in general have been affected by the crises. But crises are always the best times for one to come to terms with their choices and change direction where needed. I always try to think in a multifaceted, creative and flexible way, to “shuffle the cards” as I use to say. This is how I have faced all the crises in my life, whether personal or collective.
Which of your knowledge and personality traits have been most useful to you in your professional life?
Flexibility, as I already mentioned, curiosity and hard work have always been my weapons in life. Also, my faith in people, thanks to which I have gained a large circle of friends and collaborators, which I continue to expand. Practically speaking, my love for foreign languages and my interest in a variety of fields, from the most theoretical to the most technical, have helped me a lot. Last but not least, my willingness to offer, which I translated into volunteering, was decisive. I have been volunteering for a variety of causes for over 20 years now, and it is an life stance that I would not change for anything, because it has given me so much more than I have offered to others.
What would you like to improve in your personality or work? What are your weaknesses and how have they influenced you?
Something I’ve always wanted to change in me -and to a great extent I have succeeded in changing- is that when I had an idea, I became very excited, but that enthusiasm was quickly blown away and I was losing my motivation. I was looking for companions in order to get it off the ground together, in the hope that they would help me maintain my momentum. However, it is very important to find the motivation inside us, whatever it is that we want to do, either in life or in our career. Only this way can we be truly independent and, above all, responsible for our actions. For our successes and our mistakes. It is a path towards adulthood that can only lead to good results. Of course, this does not mean that it is not beautiful and desirable to share what we do with others.
What would you do differently and what do you consider as right steps in your career?
I will resort to the cliché that I wouldn’t do anything different, because, as I say, “No one has ever learned from the mistakes of others, only from their own.” So, just by doing, right or wrong, you progress. However, I have been through some quite hard times due to some frivolous choices. The lesson I learned is that when you make any move, it should not be defined by what you want to leave behind but by where you want to go. What guides you should not be an urge to leave, but a goal you have set for yourself.
What I have done very well -and continue to do- is that I always do things that give me something beyond degrees, work experience or money. My jobs were always fulfilling and helped me to develop. Very important also, they made me a better person and a better professional.
What piece of advice would you give to a young person who would like to do what you do?
As a coach, it is forbidden to me to give advice. I am there only to support the person who is in front of me to achieve the best they have inside them. We have all the answers, since kids already. What we gain in the course of our lives is better judgment and more confidence in ourselves and our strengths. One thing I would like to emphasize to young people, however, is that we can reach our desired destination through many different paths. Frustrations are a part of life, but there are always other opportunities. No one and nothing can stop us, only ourselves.
What are your plans for the future, short-term and long-term ones?
On a professional level, one plan is to be certified as a coach by the International Coach Federation. On a personal level, to get out of the coronavirus home restriction, when this unprecedented condition in our lives is over, so that I can enjoy the paradise in which I live and see my people again! And, of course, to reopen “Katheti” and resume the Greek lessons and all the other wonderful things that are happening there. It is true that when such momentous events take place, one realizes that, in the end, none of the things we took for granted before is given.
What else would you like to add?
We stay home, we stay safe, we stay creative! This too shall pass.