2011 Scholarship Recipient

Katie Prendergast

My Family’s History on Kythera

    Growing up, Kythera was a mysterious unknown that I had often heard about but never really knew. Every summer, my Yiayia would leave me to go visit this far off place for months at a time. I often wondered what was so special about this little island in Greece; what made her want to spend her time in Kythera and not with me?

     My great grandmother Penelope Venardos was born in Agia Anastasia in 1912. She was the youngest of four children, and life was not always easy on the island. She married at 17 years old to her husband John Megaloeconomou of Potamos. Soon after, she gave birth to her first child, Chrysanthy, and made her way to the United States for a better life. On August 23, 1936, their second child was born, Anastasia. Named for the village my little yiayia grew up in. Anastasia was a very bright and inquisitive child, who often got into mischief with her little brother Tasso.

     Anastasia visited Kythera on her first trip to Greece in 1960. Instantly, she was immersed in its culture and fell in love with the island. She was finally able to meet her Kytherian relatives for the first time, the most important, being her Yiayia Damiani. This trip proved to be a life changing event that inspired her to promote Greek heritage back home, and to use the resources available to her to help the island and its people continue its progression into the 20th century. Year after year, she returned to Kythera to bring supplies to the Gerokomio and instruments to the Philharmonic Orchestra.

     In the spring of 2000, I had the amazing opportunity to visit Kythera that would change my life forever. I was stunned by its beauty and dramatic landscape. It was clear to me why Kythera was rumored to be the birthplace of Aphrodite after seeing the crystal blue waters contrasted against the nearby rocky terrain. The Kytherian lifestyle was something I had never remotely experienced before. I was charmed by the leisurely pace in which people did things there. Dinners lasted for hours accompanied by ouzo, good food, and of course, good parea. People really seemed to take their time and enjoy life.

     After returning to Kythera several times again with my Yiayia, I am immensely proud that I can say that I am now part of such a rich and esteemed culture. My yiayia influenced me in more ways that I could ever say. She showed me the importance of giving back to the community and keeping in touch with your roots. I can finally say that I understand why she loved Kythera so much, and I am so grateful that she exposed me to a place so wonderful. My yiayia continues to inspire me in all aspects of my life. I will try my best to carry on her legacy and return to Kythera again as many times as possible, hopefully with my own grandchildren in tow.


   © KSOCA 2012