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Newsletter Archive > December 2006

15334: Newsletter Archive

submitted by James Victor Prineas on 30.03.2008

December 2006

A Greek-American Discovers Roots in Australia

Dear Friends of Kythera,

Since we announced our "10,000 Entries" competition in August more than 500 entries have been submitted to the site which not only pushed the counter past the magic ten thousand, but also gave us a turbo-charged start to the next 10,000. Instrumental in this achievement were the winners of our competition, who each contributed at least 20 entries and who will each receive a selection of Kytherian publications and rarities. Special thanks must go to Stephen Tryfillis (68 entries) of Queensland and George Vardas (28 entries) of Sydney, whose roving cameras have provided the site and its audience with inspiring images of our island. Indeed, the entries they have submitted since August are only a fraction of the hundreds of picture they have uploaded. I am in no doubt that their work has helped inspire many "lapsed-Kytherians" to rejoin the fold and take an active interest in the island. I meet such people on Kythera regularly who tell me that, before they discovered the beauty of the island through the images on the website, they didn't realise that it was worth visiting. Other winners include Jim Comino with 42 new entries, Dimitris Menegas with 25, and Gaye Hegemann with 22 family tree submissions. Congratulations to them all.
James Prineas, Team Leader Europe

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A Greek-American Discovers Roots in Australia

Url to document: http://www.kythera-family.net/index.php?nav=6-21&cid=9&act=9&did=11823

Reprinted from the Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church Epistle, Nov. 2006

By Terry Keramaris
Many of us with ties to Greece may be able to name the village from which our pappou or yiayia emigrated. Some of us have gone a step further, delving into our immigrant genealogy or even tracing the family tree back a few generations.

My father’s family comes from the island of Kythera, a small island located between the western tip of Crete and the Peloponnese. About a year ago through a website called www.kythera-family.net, I became acquainted with a second cousin, Vikki Fraioli, who lives in Modesto. We discovered a shared interest in our family history, and collaborated to expand a family tree prepared in 1935. Through hours of research we not only enlarged our family tree, but uncovered relatives in France, South Africa, and especially Australia. Vikki constructed a website to share information with the Kytherian and online communities.

Vikki and I visited Kythera this past August, and participated in a “Discover your Roots 2006” seminar. We talked about our research, showed the detailed genealogy of three Kytherian families, and even met with the curator of the Kytherian archives, which hold records back to medieval times. We found our own ancestor records dating back to the mid-eighteenth century. We shared our findings online and with our new-found relatives.

Upon our return to California, we were pleasantly surprised to find invitations to participate in the 2nd International World Congress of Kytherians, an international symposium to be held in Canberra, Australia from September 15-17. We decided to go for it, and flew to Sydney on September 8. Our presentation would be entitled “Kytherians of California: Making Connections with our Past, Present, and Future.”

Mr. George Poulos, of Kythera-family.net, graciously hosted us in his lovely home in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. We also got the chance to meet our distant Aussie cousins in person, and we instantly felt like family.

We spent four days in Sydney, and became acquainted with the amazing Kytherian-Australian community. While only about 3,500 people inhabit Kythera today, the descendants of the island’s Australian immigrants number over 10,000. Most of these Kytherian-Australians live in the Sydney area. Dr. Victor Kepreotis, president of the Kytherian Brotherhood of Australia, welcomed us and introduced us to the Kytherian community.

We attended a meeting of the Kytherian Ladies’ Auxiliary, and heard about the annual Debutante Ball, a black-tie event which about 750 people attend. The Kytherian Ladies also put on the Melbourne Cup Fashion Luncheon, held on Australia’s most famous horse race day.

The Sydney Kytherians are strong supporters of their Hellenic heritage. One of the most popular programs is Friday Night Greek Dancing Classes, with about 250 young people, from infants through grade 12, participating each week. These classes are completely free and are financed by the Nicholas Aroney Trust, established to promote ongoing Kytherian Cultural Activities.

Additional organizations include the Kytherian Young Mothers Group, the Kytherian 4WD and Recreation Club, and the Kytherian Soccer Club (whose members were still celebrating the first-place win in their division). Clearly the Kytherians of Sydney are a cohesive and strong group.

John Howard, Australia’s Prime Minister, opened the Symposium, held at the magnificent 3-story Hellenic Club of Canberra. After his speech, we had a chance to mingle with him during tea break. The conference explored several thematic units of Kytheraismos - defined as the Kytherian sense of identity. Over the three days, topics ranged from scholarly presentations on Kytherian literature and gender roles, to the historical role played by Kytherian immigrants to Australia and the current challenges faced by today’s Kytherian-Australian youth. Vikki’s and my presentation was well-received, and we became known as “the American Girls.”

Other highlights included a Friday reception hosted by the Ambassador of Greece at the stately Greek Embassy, and a dinner-dance Saturday night at the Hellenic Club. Being at a glendi in Australia is no different than attending an event in the USA: we eat, we dance, and we dance some more.

We may live different countries, but our Hellenic heritage unifies us and makes us realize how lucky we are to share a common legacy and tradition. Dolmades for Lunch
As I write to friends all over the world, I often marvel at how things have changed. It's not unusual for people to be born in one country, then move to several, maybe with family, then move again, from one place to the next, as they follow various careers.

Like most in Australia, I come from a family of immigrants... few of us don't. My Greek grandfather left the village of Potamos in Kythera, in 1904 to try his hand in a new country. He had been a farmer and a guard at the Greek palace.. here he started out as so many before him, as a kitchen hand in restaurants owned by fellow Greeks. He went into partnership with his cousin, also from Kythera and had a cafe in Bellingen, previously having been in Grafton.

I wish I could ask him why he then decided to go back to farming, this time in Whiporee, near Casino... then Aberdeen, then to Urunga, where he farmed for the rest of his years. My grandmother grew cotton and spun it, then wove it, before also leaving Kythera and coming to join her husband. Their children became farmers, cafe owners, soldiers, truck owner/drivers, worked on the railway, hoteliers, small business owners... then came the grandchildren...

Occupations changed. Here we have bank tellers, businessmen, a geologist, teachers, university lecturer, small business owners, cosmetician, media promotions director, transport operator, lawyer, timber importer, company representatives, managers, with partners as lawyer, travel agent, theatre manager, chemist, medical representative, small business owners, developers, property managers... I'm sure to have missed some. The great grandchildren have become lawyers, public relations directors, company owners, health insurance representative, computer security, engineers, and various other careers along the way...

So many have travelled overseas, most for pleasure, many to Greece and other countries, some for business... to all parts of the globe... None of this is unusual for families today, but if we could chat a while to our ancestors, what would they think of all this? Do mothers feel any different today as they wave their loved ones 'farewell' than mothers of long ago? At least today, we have communication previously unheard of... we can email, or pick up a phone... We can sit in our homes and see the person we are talking to in 'real time' via webcam. We can send them videos via the internet; photos, not needing film, can be sent via email or uploaded to the web, then family and friends invited to see them... at their leisure. The miles fade away as instant communication keeps families in touch...

As I picture my grandfather's family seeing their son leave for a virtually unknown country, I can feel their heartache... knowing that in all probability they would never see them again... was it any different for my maternal grandmother's Irish parents? They, too, watched their family leave for Australia, America, New Zealand, Canada.

Though both families were filled with hope, that their children would never have to endure the hardships they had in their native lands, the tears of the mother still rolled down a quivering lip; the firm handshake or hug of the father lasted just a little longer, while they tried so hard to keep their emotions confined and hearts still break a little more with each goodbye.

Crissouli ©2006 (crissouli@kythera-family.net)

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A GREEK-AMERICAN DISCOVERS ROOTS IN AUSTRALIA

Url to document: http://www.kythera-family.net/index.php?nav=6-21&cid=9&act=9&did=11823

Reprinted from the Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church Epistle, Nov. 2006
By Terry Keramaris


Many of us with ties to Greece may be able to name the village from which our pappou or yiayia emigrated. Some of us have gone a step further, delving into our immigrant genealogy or even tracing the family tree back a few generations.

My father’s family comes from the island of Kythera, a small island located between the western tip of Crete and the Peloponnese. About a year ago through a website called www.kythera-family.net, I became acquainted with a second cousin, Vikki Fraioli, who lives in Modesto. We discovered a shared interest in our family history, and collaborated to expand a family tree prepared in 1935. Through hours of research we not only enlarged our family tree, but uncovered relatives in France, South Africa, and especially Australia. Vikki constructed a website to share information with the Kytherian and online communities.

Vikki and I visited Kythera this past August, and participated in a “Discover your Roots 2006” seminar. We talked about our research, showed the detailed genealogy of three Kytherian families, and even met with the curator of the Kytherian archives, which hold records back to medieval times. We found our own ancestor records dating back to the mid-eighteenth century. We shared our findings online and with our new-found relatives.

Upon our return to California, we were pleasantly surprised to find invitations to participate in the 2nd International World Congress of Kytherians, an international symposium to be held in Canberra, Australia from September 15-17. We decided to go for it, and flew to Sydney on September 8. Our presentation would be entitled “Kytherians of California: Making Connections with our Past, Present, and Future.”

Mr. George Poulos, of Kythera-family.net, graciously hosted us in his lovely home in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. We also got the chance to meet our distant Aussie cousins in person, and we instantly felt like family.

We spent four days in Sydney, and became acquainted with the amazing Kytherian-Australian community. While only about 3,500 people inhabit Kythera today, the descendants of the island’s Australian immigrants number over 10,000. Most of these Kytherian-Australians live in the Sydney area. Dr. Victor Kepreotis, president of the Kytherian Brotherhood of Australia, welcomed us and introduced us to the Kytherian community.

We attended a meeting of the Kytherian Ladies’ Auxiliary, and heard about the annual Debutante Ball, a black-tie event which about 750 people attend. The Kytherian Ladies also put on the Melbourne Cup Fashion Luncheon, held on Australia’s most famous horse race day.

The Sydney Kytherians are strong supporters of their Hellenic heritage. One of the most popular programs is Friday Night Greek Dancing Classes, with about 250 young people, from infants through grade 12, participating each week. These classes are completely free and are financed by the Nicholas Aroney Trust, established to promote ongoing Kytherian Cultural Activities.

Additional organizations include the Kytherian Young Mothers Group, the Kytherian 4WD and Recreation Club, and the Kytherian Soccer Club (whose members were still celebrating the first-place win in their division). Clearly the Kytherians of Sydney are a cohesive and strong group.

John Howard, Australia’s Prime Minister, opened the Symposium, held at the magnificent 3-story Hellenic Club of Canberra. After his speech, we had a chance to mingle with him during tea break. The conference explored several thematic units of Kytheraismos - defined as the Kytherian sense of identity. Over the three days, topics ranged from scholarly presentations on Kytherian literature and gender roles, to the historical role played by Kytherian immigrants to Australia and the current challenges faced by today’s Kytherian-Australian youth. Vikki’s and my presentation was well-received, and we became known as “the American Girls.”

Other highlights included a Friday reception hosted by the Ambassador of Greece at the stately Greek Embassy, and a dinner-dance Saturday night at the Hellenic Club. Being at a glendi in Australia is no different than attending an event in the USA: we eat, we dance, and we dance some more.

We may live different countries, but our Hellenic heritage unifies us and makes us realize how lucky we are to share a common legacy and tradition.

Terry Keramaris, California. email: terry@kythera-family.net

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