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General News

30 Nisyrian-American Cousins Make Pilgrimage to the Homeland

Constantinos Ioannis Scaros was born on the Dodecanese island of Symi in 1878. He studied business on the neighboring island of Rhodes, and demonstrating great aptitude for the subject, planned to further his studies in Athens. However, his natural talent and ability to be an effective teacher was also evident, and he accepted an impassioned plea to defer further education and instead become a teacher on Nisyros’ tiny village of Nikia. Shortly thereafter, he met a village native, Maria Alexiades, and they were married 120 years ago, in 1902. They had seven children; one of them was my father.

On the Fourth of July this summer, as millions of Americans celebrated our nation’s founding, my wife and children along with 26 of our fellow cousins – descendants of Constantinos and Maria Scaros – along with their spouses/significant others made it an even 30 who boarded a ship from Rhodes for a family reunion at the patriarchal home in Nikia.

My cousin Constantine (Dean) Scaros, an occasional TNH contributor, now owns the home and graciously opens it to visiting family members. His sister Maria and her daughters, Erica and Alexandra, hosted a dinner there for all of us on July 5. Maria also ordered the “Scaros Family Reunion – Nisyros 2022” t-shirts that we’re all wearing in the photo, from the rooftop.

The cousins’ ages range from 6 to 69. Almost half had never been to Greece before. One returned for the first time since 1976! Over half had never been to Nisyros.

We traveled from all over the United States for the journey. Most live in the New York Metropolitan area, but some stretch from New England to Florida to the Pacific Northwest.

Only 20 people live in Nikia year round, so our presence in town that night more than doubled the population.

We had been talking about this trip for years. Some thought of planning it around milestone birthdays, others scheduling around wedding plans and births. But this year everyone finally made the decision to go (well, not everyone – we had planned for even more cousins to join us, but they couldn’t make it).

This was my 18th trip to Greece and because of this reunion, the most historic one. A couple of days later, we all went our separate ways: some to other islands, some back to the United States.

We may vary in terms of our favorite meals, favorite beaches, and favorite moments, but we all agree that Greece is a wonderful, magical place, and we have all vowed to return soon. And for anyone who’s talked about a large family reunion in Greece but hasn’t done it yet, trust us: it’s well worth it!

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