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Reconnecting With My Greek Roots

Just like a lot of second-generation Greeks, Linda’s motive behind the decision to start Greek lessons and be more active with learning and studying Greek, is her connection with her Greek family. This is Linda’s story…

 “With the passing of most of my family, the need to establish my roots and be more connected with Greece has gotten stronger.”

Linda, is a retired registered nurse who lives in New York City when she is not on an adventure like hiking Mount Kilimanjaro. 

“I grew up in Astoria with my extended Greek family, and we all lived within blocks of each other. The first years of my life I lived with my yiayia and pappou who did not speak English. Living with my grandparents provided an amazing opportunity; it exposed me to the Greek language and immersed me in Greek culture. Unfortunately, when I moved from my yiayia and pappou’s house, English was the dominant language and over the years I lost much of my Greek language skills.”

Yiayia and pappou are undoubtedly the glue for many Greek-Americans. They are the ones who keep the family together and pass on the Greek language, customs, and habits to the next generations.

“My pappou, my father’s father, grew up in Thessaloniki, Greece, and immigrated to the USA around 1918, to fulfill the American dream.  He arrived at Ellis Island and continued to Lowell, Massachusetts, where there was an established Greek community and a few relatives. He loved it so much that he sent a letter to his sister in Greece, asking her to send a bride so he could settle in the US.  At that point, my yiayia, who was born in Siatista, Greece, came over via boat and was met by my pappou at the port. The story is that when they first saw each other, they were not attracted to one another.  That must have changed because they were married for over 50 years and ended up having 7 children!”

Linda’s pappou and yiayia lived in the US for a while, had 3 children, and then moved back to Greece. They settled in Thessaloniki, had 4 more children, and had a bakery for a while. After the war, they all slowly started moving to the US. Linda’s father was the last to move to the US when he was 14 years old.

“In my family, we have always had a very strong tradition and identification with being Greek. We were always very close. The cultural traditions, church services, and of course cooking.  I always identified with all these things and missed not having the language along with it.”

Linda’s passion to reconnect is so strong, she is participating in more Greek cultural activities, and currently applying for dual citizenship. 

“I hope to do some volunteer work in Greece and learning the language is part of my preparation.  I started searching online for an immersion program in Greece, and The Greek Online School popped up. As I read the program’s description, I immediately felt a connection and a strong need to pursue this intensive language course located in Spetses.  It was meant to be, because going to Spetses and participating in the classes was nothing less than magical. The experience fed my desire to embrace my “Greekness” and made me even more proud of my heritage. It left me wanting a closer relationship with the country, the culture, as well as learning the language.”

Linda is very proud to say that now after Spetses, and continuing online with The Greek Online School, she feels rewarded by being able to read, write and converse in Greek.

“I am also doing this in honor of my family, my heritage. I get emotional thinking about it because I want to carry on our traditions and stay connected to my family in Greece. The Greek Online School is helping me achieve this through language.” 

“Living Greek, thinking Greek, a lot of my thoughts are in Greek now!” 

“My wish is to be more involved with Greek communities.  I am going back to Spetses in June 2023 for the Greek Immersion Course, and as I mentioned earlier, I would also like to do some volunteer work in Greece. I hope to be able to live in Greece and further strengthen my ties with my family. My nouna is 100 years old and the last surviving child of my yiayia and pappou. She now suffers from memory loss, but if she could understand, I know she would be very proud of me.”

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