To leave or not to leave?
A few days ago, I was part of a very interesting debate organized by “Intelligence Squared Greece“. The question was: should young Greeks, who pursue professional and intellectual advancement as well as better quality of life, stay in Greece and persevere through the financial crisis (and whatever it brings about) or leave and seek a better future outside their homeland? http://www.intelligencesquared.com/greece/events/2011/spring/brain-drain
Three panelists defended the proposal to leave the country and three more advocated for staying. You can find the full debate here. One of the panelists was a Greek computer scientist from Berkeley, who (obviously) spoke for leaving the country and seeking the scientific and technological scene somewhere else. I could sense a tinge of bitterness in his voice as he mentioned that he had also taught at the Greek University, but felt that the lack of meritocracy and organization pushed him out of the country. Let’s face it, Greece is still very far behind in whatever has the words “research” and “development” in a sentence. However, as the speaker continued with his thesis, I could feel his nostalgia for the motherland and that he still has not given up on Greece. He mentioned that China is becoming a superpower because it invested in bringing back the Chinese scientists from abroad and spending huge amounts in R&D and building university and technological infrastructure. Greece has the opportunity to advance through the crisis and the answer is hidden in research, development, and education.
As for me? I have no doubts that coming back to Greece was the best decision. For me opportunities might be less prominent within a crisis, but they may also have the biggest reward. Moreover, the scientific future of Greece will be determined by the scientists who stayed an the ones who returned (or continue to return), not the ones who left.
Thank you, Intelligence Squared Greece, for providing the grounds for such interesting contemplations!