by Anthi Pazianou
MYTILENE, Greece, June 14 (Xinhua)-- A giant outdoor chess made from life jackets left by refugees and migrants after crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece has been inaugurated recently at the University of the Aegean on the Greek island of Lesvos as a symbol of the ongoing tragedy.
This innovative work of art was made by volunteers on Lesvos which has received the bulk of refugee and migrant arrivals to Greece since early 2015.
In collaboration with Mytilene Chess Club, chess games have been held early this month when the giant chess was installed, with the participation of university students and local chess players.
The initiative under the title "Games at the World Chess Board" was announced in social media and a lot of volunteers showed up.
"The idea was immediately embraced by the University Environmental Committee and is a symbolic representation of environmental and humanistic concerns," said Stefanos Gritzalis, the rector of the university.
Since the beginning of 2015, the island has seen more than half a million refugee and migrant arrivals. The personal drama encapsulated in each individual arriving has unfolded on the beaches and left behind, bearing silent witness to lives changed forever, are the life jackets.
The recycling project involved the collection of waste paper and life jackets which were transformed in the hands of a dedicated group of volunteers, who constructed 1.2 meter-tall chess pieces, among others.
Fereniki Tsamparli, an artist of the committee told Xinhua that the aim is to present their life jackets-made giant chess to symbolize the perilous trip of refugees towards Europe.
Up to 700,000 life vests and 10,000 inflatable dinghies have been left on the beaches of Lesvos since January 2015.
They have been gradually collected before tourists arrive for summer holidays and before the plastic materials start degrading to harm the environment, deputy mayor of Lesvos, Yorgos Katzanos, told Xinhua.
About 300 life vests were given to the volunteers of the university to create the giant chess as part of the recycling program.