Greece is part of my heritage. As a child growing up I was lucky enough to go to Greece every three years to visit my grandparents and uncle. My grandparents had to return to Greece when I was about five due to my grandmother’s health and my uncle went with them. My uncle eventually married and had children and stayed in Greece. When we went to Greece we would get to stay two to three months at a time. I really loved going there. The people were always friendly and went out of their way to help me even though I didn’t speak Greek very well. Most of our visits were to the beautiful island of Crete. We got to visit Knossos and, of course, the gorgeous beaches. We visited relatives up in the villages in the mountains.
I never really felt left out. The neighbor kids, who were taking English in school, were always happy to practice their English with me, and I got to practice my Greek. It was fun coming back every three years and pretty much just continuing on with those friendships, seeing how all of us changed over the years. As we got older, since some of my friends in Greece were older than me, they got married and had children. I loved being able to practice my Greek and by the time we left was pretty much able to hold conversations. Of course, not using it much when I returned to the States, I would forget most of it and have to relearn it when I returned to Greece! My father is of Greek descent but never learned the language. My mother taught Greek for over 30 years, which is where I learned it, but not speaking it on a regular basis you don’t get very fluent. I understand Greek a lot more than I can speak it, which surprised my mother sometimes when I asked questions about something she discussed with her friends on the QT by speaking in Greek (or so she thought!).
Greece is still my favorite place to visit as often as I can. I still find the people so friendly and willing to help those who don’t speak Greek. Most of the younger crowd know very good English and a lot of the business owners do too. It is still a very beautiful, culturally rich place to visit. Unfortunately the ability to stay for two to three months is not an option for me any more, but boy would I love to live there for that amount of time if not longer!
Elaine Sklom, CTA, ACC