2014 Scholarship Recipient

Steven Sarento Nickolas

My Family’s History on Kythera

In early 2008, I was offered the opportunity by my parents and grandparents to travel to Greece and explore the city of Athens and then fly a short distance across the Mediterranean to visit a little island called Kythera. From when I was a young boy, my family (specifically my Yaya) would tell me about this island just south of the Peloponnese in Greece where my roots are. She told me about how in 1883, my great-great grandfather Yiannis Alfieris was born in Potomos and how a year earlier, my great-great grandmother Mango Chlentws was born in Christoforianika. They were the last in my family to be born on the island of Kythera because in 1906, they immigrated to America. They traveled to California where they raised their children; one of which was my great grandfather Harry Alfieris. Harry grew up in Oakland where he and Athena Spiropoulos had two children, one of which is my Yaya. As I grew older, my Yaya told me more stories about my great-great grandparents' lives on Kythera. For example, I had no idea that both Marigo and Yiannis spoke both Greek and Italian. However what amazed me the most was how highly she said they spoke of the island, despite all the hardships they faced while living there. There was no electricity or water utilities on the island so I imagine that life was not the "paradise" that my great grandparents spoke of.

In 2008 when I had the opportunity to visit the island, I was at first shocked by how small it was. I remember being told how it was possible to drive across the entire island in just a few hours. My twelve-year-old brain could not fathom how the rich history I had been taught over the years could come from this place. But that notion changed as we started driving around the island. Where the airport was located and where our hotel was located happened to be a ways apart so we were able to see a good portion of the island on our first day there. Our first night we drove to the largest city on the island, Potomos, for dinner. I had the most delicious gyro I have ever had in my entire life sitting in the square watching all the people going about their daily lives. We returned to the square for dinner on another night during our stay and I was able to watch the dancing and festivities that go on in Potomos square each night.

Having only been to Kythera once, I was only exposed to its culture only for a brief period of time. However I see Kytherian culture all around me whenever I am with my Kytherian family. Since I started attending luncheons, I have been introduced to more and more Kytherians, each radiating a unique pride and joy in saying that they are Kytherian. For me, this is the best part of meeting new Kytherian relatives because I get to see how they embody the Kytherian spirit. One day I hope to embody this spirit myself and be able to inspire new members of the Kytherian society to travel to Kythera, like I have been lucky enough to do.

 Su   © KSOCA 2012