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Newsletter Archive > January 2009

Newsletter Archive

submitted by James Victor Prineas on 23.03.2009

January 2009

Dear Friends of Kythera,

First of all, belated best wishes for the new year to all of you from a very cold Berlin (-17 a couple of nights ago).

I spoke to my aunt Koula on Kythera in mid-December, before I left to celebrate Christmas with my wife's family in Denmark. She told me the village was almost empty. Even the local cafe had closed for renovations. The wind was howling through the wet deserted streets. January to March are the loneliest months on the island and our relatives there need some sunshine in the form of friendly voices from their family overseas. Even if your Greek isn't that great, your relatives will love to hear a hearty "ti kanies" from you. Such a small effort from you - even the overseas call rates are so cheap now you can't use that as an excuse - can light up a cold grey day on Kythera for a loved-one. The country/island prefix for Kythera is +3027360....

We at Kythera-Family.net are still intent on upgrading the site in 2009. As mentioned in previous newsletters, the site - now almost 6 years old - is in desperate need of an overhaul as the world of the internet has progressed greatly in the past few years. Our current site design and programming, wonderful though it still is, is like a car from the 50's. It still gets you around, but it could be a lot faster, more comfortable and safe. We have a new design to implement and a quote from the programmers (about €9000.00). All we need is the funding which would handled by the safe and careful hands of the Kytherian Association of Australia. If you have connections within any of the Kytherian associations or women's auxiliaries and can put in a good word for us, or if you are in a position yourself to help us keep Kythera-Family.net attracting 107,000 visitors to the site per year - that was how many visited in 2008 - then please become a benefactor. If you have visited Wikipedia in the past few months you might have noticed that they had a funding drive to raise US$6,000,000 to update their site, which they managed to do in December. Our €9,000 is peanuts in comparison, but the value of the site to Kytherians is immeasurable. Keeping the site up-to-date is the best way to attract the 3rd, 4th and 5th generation Kytherians to the island via the internet, raising the probability that they will visit the island and pass their heritage down to their children. If you'd like to become a benefactor please send me an E-Mail and I'll send you an overview of the relaunch-plans and the Kytherian Association account numbers. I hope that, if we can raise just half of the above sum, that we can get one of the Kytherian Associations to match the amount. So please click on the email address below and let us know that you'd like to help.

You might have seen mentioned in a previous newsletter as well as in a few entries on the site, that Angelika Pentsi, a young Greek/German sociology student in Berlin, wrote a thesis entitled "Internet-Use in the Diaspora - a theoretical and empirical analysis of the relationship of the internet, migration and cultural identity through Kythera-Family.net". I hope to have an English translation of it for you in a month or two - it is an exceedingly interesting read and a solid piece of scholarly work. Angelika used the Guest Book on the site for much of her analysis, and I especially enjoyed reading some of the entries, old and new, which I had forgotten about. It also gave me an idea of what some of the 107,000 visitors must be thinking when they discover the site for the first time. Below, to finish off, a few excepts from the Guest Book entries which Angelika used in her thesis.

Best regards from a snowy frozen Berlin,

James Prineas
james@kythera-family.net


Excepts from the Guest-Book featured in Angelika Pentsi's 2008 Thesis "Internet-Use in the Diaspora - a theoretical and empirical analysis of the relationship of the internet, migration and cultural identity through Kythera-Family.net".

"This is the worlds greatest site. I spend hours looking in every corner and sometimes with tears. I'm so happy to see that time, distance or generations doesn't stop the proud Kytherians looking back to our beloved Island that holds so many memories and natural beauty. I looked in the guest book and saw the names of some very dear friends, and by the way….. O Gianis and Katina on the head of this site (the couple driving the 3-wheeler in the picture at the top of the website - ed) are my relatives. ..."

"Sinxharitiria kai kalo riziko! Words fail to capture the enthusiasm I felt as I perused the site. I particularly enjoyed reading the pages – oral history – on the Kytherians of the far north coast of NSW. It brought back fond memories of my early years, growing up in Casino. Indeed, a time to reflect on the past. I wish you every success in 'bringing to life' the history of the Kytherians of the Diaspora!"

"I love your website because I found the family spirit that defines the island"

"What a wonderful website. I felt almost as though I had been for a visit"

"Every time I visit Kythera I am overcome with a strong emotion of belonging. This same emotion is present when I visit this website".

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>Knitting on Kythera?

I am currently researching to write a book on the cultural, social, economic and political history of knitting. I wonder if there is any tradition of knitting on Kythera. I have not yet found a shop that sells any yarn on the island and have only ever seen one woman knitting (and she was a visitor from the Peloponnese!). When I have spoken and watched women in Greece knitting they often either put the yarn around their necks or hook it over a special loop pinned just under their necks: apparently this helps provide a constant tension. I wonder if this practice is the same on Kythera? If there is not a knitting tradition then what other forms of needle-craft are traditional on the island.

If anyone would like to contact me regarding this then my e-mail address is drlizmuir@gmail.com

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>Remembering a visit to Lourandianika
By Maria Whyte (nee Marcellos)
 
Sitting on the stoop of my fathers family home in Kato Livadi, I gazed across the peaceful land, spread as far as I could see. A young girl, just 15 years of age. My thoughts went back to the life I had left in Australia, remembering special times in my life. Sitting on a wooden crate, watching an "uncle" peeling potatoes by hand, in the basement of my fathers cafe in Sydney. Preparing the chips that would be cooked in the kitchen upstairs, meals which would be served to the many customers. My thoughts went to the special times I would visit my beloved father, who, when he saw me walk in, his face would light up at the sight of me, and he would immediately, without asking, start preparing my favourite strawberry soda, with an extra scoop of ice cream, and the froth on the top of the oversized glass.

My father would sit at his special booth, and as always, he would bring his plate of tomato soup, and as then, he would eat his well done steak, with salad, and the chips which I had sat and watched being made, and I would drink my strawberry soda, and we would talk. My father always willing to listen to my stories of how my day had been spent. These thoughts flashed across my mind, and I found myself thinking, how, would I survive the many months, which lay ahead of me, on this quiet island?
 
Going from a life, filled with visiting friends and relatives, enjoying the monthly Kytherian dances, which were a highlight of my life, visiting museums, missing my school friends. Spending weekends and holidays, working at my fathers side in his magnificent garden. Rows of vegetables, intermingled with flowers, trees heavy with fruit, my small bunny roaming free in this large garden, how would I adjust to a life which was so foreign to me?
 
Little did I realise that I would come to love this quiet island life. Braving the cold blustery winter winds, to walk to Upper Livadi, to visit my grandmother and grandfather. My grandfather, such an impressive man, tall in stature, laughing as I played with his long white beard, listening to his quiet, and gentle teachings, such wise words, which I would embrace later in life. My first experience riding a donkey, which left me very unsure after my first attempt, but, after walking such a long distance, over roads covered with large stones, riding a donkey became something looked forward to.
 
The experience of my first time entering the family Church next to my father's home. So small, but so perfect in every way. I would enter it every day, and I would light a candle, and quietly speak a prayer, asking for the strength to embrace the island life which was to be mine for the next 10 months. I was given permission to clean this magnificent tiny Church. What an honour. I felt so humbled. The peace I felt when I stood alone, looking at the perfection of the icons, and the sheer beauty, which I feel, is, where I believe, my love of tiny churches originated. Little did I know that in the future, I would choose a tiny Church to exchange my marriage vows, and to take our fifth child to the same small Church for her baptism.
 
My thoughts once again drifted back to the days of travelling by train for 7 hours, to spend school holidays with family members, being cared for by a loving aunt and uncle and spend time with my cousins, in a country town. Such wonderful memories, sitting in my uncle's cafe, weighing lollies, putting them into bags, stapling them, ready for sale. The fresh smell of the country air, was strangely reminiscent of the fresh air of this quiet island.
 
I had been raised and had instilled in me from a very young age, a respect for work. My father had bought me a small straw broom, and he would give me a little "job", to sweep the paths of our family home. My father wanted to teach me the value of work, and to not expect anything for nothing. He never spoke these words to me, but, whenever I expressed a wish for something, it would miraculously appear. The piano lessons which I had lost interest in, and my wish to learn the violin. The violin appeared, and the piano lessons were put on hold. My father knew me so well. I would lose interest quickly, and he was right, but, wisely, enabled me to have my every desire recognised, and to allow me to choose which road I wished to follow, and always supported my decisions.
 
Sitting on this stoop, overlooking Kato Livadi, these were the thoughts which were going through my mind. Little did I know, that as the months passed, I would speak less and less English, and had started speaking only Greek, and not only did I speak only Greek, but, I also picked up all the slang words which were so frequently used by my many relatives. They became so natural. The young girl, who had every luxury a parent could give, became a young girl who would sit in her father's home happily on a cold winter's night, and with aunts filling a large steel bucket with hot coals from the wall oven, we would sit enjoying the warmth which filled the room, speaking of the day's news. The smell of fresh bread baking in the wall oven, and the ease of the conversation, never once thinking of a life left behind.
 
Yes, the months passed. Such happy fulfilling times, and 10 months later, sitting on the same stoop, tears rolled down my cheeks as I realised that the time had arrived to leave this idyllic life. Leaving my "best friend": a girl, my own age, "Marika". Taking with me the wise words spoken by my grandfather, my grandmother, my aunts and uncles, and the many wonderful people, who made Cerigo for me.  My parents had started instilling in me the values of life, but the lessons I had learned during those many months, from people who lived their lives so differently, truly taught me so many values, which, only the people of Kythera, with their simple life, but such high standards, would instil in me for life.
 
When I returned to Kythera some years ago, sitting in my father's family home, I looked up, and there stood "Marika" coming directly from her work in the fields, a little afraid that I would not remember her, but the years fell away as if by magic, and as we embraced, with tears of joy on our cheeks, we were the two young girls again who had formed a friendship that time had not changed.
 
The magic of Kythera has put me in touch with so many long lost family members and friends. People whom I called "uncle" and "aunt" out of respect, have entered my life again. One such person, signed off their letter to me, calling this a miracle, saying, "from someone who was there the day I was born". Indeed a miracle. The magic of Kythera.
 
Maria Whyte (nee Marcellos)

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>Kytherian Youth Camp Project - Called the Skinia Σκηνια (Tent) Project on Kythera.
 submitted by George Poulos, 14.12.2008

The "Tent Project" is the most exciting Kytherian Project since the advent of www.kythera-family.net. If it is realised, it will have equally powerful positive ramifications for unifying Kytherians around the world. Particularly Kytherian youth. It is a mega-project of great quality.

The purpose of Σκηνια is to create an accommodation and recreation facility for children and young adults from the island of Kythera, Greece, and the rest of the world. There they will engage in sports, ecological, heritage and cultural activities. The purpose of providing the accommodation under tents is to appeal to children’s and young adults sense of adventure. All the rest of the facilities (See 1-7 on the Plan) are fixed and enclosed structures. 

The plan includes at (10) a Sports field – one of the facilities desperately required by children and young adults on Kythera. The facility will be located on (separate) Church land 68.25 metres from the border that surrounds the Monastery of Ayios Theothoros, located on the main central road between the towns of Potamos & Aroniathika. 

The area of the land is 14305,05 sq.m. (i.e. 14 stremmata) 
The land on which Σκηνια will be built is unencumbered by mortgage.
The building is 153 m2.

The concept is the brain-child of Father Petros Mariatos. Father Petros is the resident priest of the church oft the Panagia (Virgin Mary) of Ilariotissa in Potamos. The title Doctor Priest, indicates that Father Petros was formally a surgeon at the Hospital of Potamos. He received a “religious calling” later in life. To this day he ministers to his congregation’s physical, as well as their metaphysical needs.

This is a mega-project that most of us, who understand Kythera, have previously only dared to dream about. Soon that dream will become a reality.

You can read more and see pictures about it here, as well as view the donation appeal:

http://www.kythera-family.net/index.php?nav=26&cid=14&did=16283&pageflip=1

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