Interview with Christos Galatis
Christos Galatis holds an MA in Psychology from the University of Dundee, Scotland and currently is finishing his MSc in Counseling Psychology at the University of Nicosia. Christos is presently a Center Assistant at the University of Nicosia’s Cyprus Center for Intercultural Studies and Website Content Manager at the University of Nicosia’s UNESCO Chair.
What is your current position at the Cyprus Center for Intercultural Studies? What do you do there?
I hold the position of Center Assistant at the Cyprus Center for Intercultural Studies. I have been part of the team since January 2013. My job responsibilities vary according to the needs of the Center. For example, I work on promotion and planning of events, as well as on the booking of catering and venues. I also co-manage and co-create material for the Center’s social media use. I update our YouTube channel (https://youtube.com/user/ccisunic), Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/cypruscenterforinterculturalstudies),and our main website (https://www.unic.ac.cy/research/affiliated-institutions-business-links/academically-affiliated-institutions/cyprus-center-for-intercultural-studies-ccis).
What are your personal interests regarding diversity and interculturalism?
I have always been fascinated by the attempts of some people in our country to promote and maintain an environment that fosters and accepts diversity and interculturalism. I feel fortunate to have been given the chance through my work at the Center to also play a role in bringing awareness and broadening the intellectual horizon of people through action.
In terms of my personal experience working in intercultural environments, I remember fondly of a time in high school when a few of my classmates and I worked on a joint project with Turkish-Cypriots from Kerynia. The project aimed to create a joint website for the two schools where we would upload school news and events. We faced discrimination from both adults and other schoolmates but once the project was completed and we presented the final product of our work, we all felt that there was nothing more rewarding than changing one’s perspective on the matter of diversity.
In addition, while I was working towards my Masters in Scotland, I remember vividly the ways in which diversity and difference were treated: people did not care as much about people’s differences or they were brought up to respect others regardless of their ethnic background. This was an eye-opener for what I was ‘conditioned’ to think from my culture. Personally, embracing the values and ideals of a different culture, I believe, not only enhances one’s wellbeing but also promotes equality and a genuine sense for empathetic understanding of what others may be going through. This is also very important when it comes to my academic field, where I constantly interact with people from diverse backgrounds as well as with people who do not fit neatly into stereotypes.
You mentioned a link between your academic field and diversity. Are your studies in any way related to the work you do at the Cyprus Center for Intercultural Studies?
I am a graduate student at the University of Nicosia, studying towards an MSc in Counseling Psychology. This is my second Master’s degree which I undertake in order to fulfill both my academic and professional ambitions to one day become a licensed clinical practitioner. The field of psychology certainly relates to what we are promoting at the Center. It is extremely important to be a multiculturally competent therapist as it ultimately shapes how the therapist views and treats their ethnic or gender minority group clients.
Being able to identify the misfortunes one is going through in their life as well as the cultural influences and pressures on one’s life are major characteristics of a multiculturally competent therapist.
Most importantly, putting oneself in another person’s shoes is fundamental in therapy. This is also one of the Center’s goals, to promote and embrace difference.
At the Center, most often than not, we interact with people from different cultures and with different values. I find that gaining this unique perspective in intercultural communication will also give me an edge in my professional career when dealing with clients who are diverse not only culturally but also in terms of their race, ethnicity, class, gender, religion, language and sexual orientation.