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2021 Scholarship Recipient

Hannah Moore

My Famiy History on Kythera

A few years ago I was walking with my grandfather, Panagiotis Coukoulis, through the redwoods when he asked me if I wanted to learn a Greek song. I responded with excitement and anticipation when I said "ohi!". He began to sing, "othan tha pao, kira mou sto pazari tha sou agoraso ena kokoraki…”. By the end of the walk, we were smiling and singing the whole Greek Old MacDonald nursery rhyme. With every lyric, I felt a sense of pride for my Greek heritage and culture. After we sang the song, he began to tell me about his childhood in Kythera. I listened to his stories for several hours about the days when he would herd goats throughout the island of Kythera or play his mandolin on a pavilion. There were sad stories about how the island he lived on was occupied by the Nazis and cheerful stories about him going to the local bazaar in Potamos. Since then, my papou has taught me the Greek national anthem and the history of his and our family’s experiences in Kythera.  I am proud to have been raised by my Greek grandfather and Greek-American mother because they taught me the values associated with the culture. I feel connected to my Greek heritage when I spend time with my papou, make Greek food, attend Greek festivals, go to Greek restaurants, and listen to or dance to Greek music. 

            I cherish my family and am grateful for the sacrifices that they have made in order for me to attend University of California, Irvine. Growing up and learning about the Greek culture from my grandfather made me feel a connection to Kythera through his stories, warmth, and gentle spirit. Panagiotis Coukoulis was born in 1925 in Saint Louis, Missouri. His family had come over to the U.S. from the island of Kythera in search of a job for his father. From birth to four years old he spoke only Greek, so from ages four to six he had to learn English in the United States. His father worked hard to put food on the table through his candy shop and later selling produce to the local neighbors after the candy shop closed down. The whole family pitched in to make ends meet including my papou when he was a five-year-old. Pan and his brothers sold liberty magazines around the subsection and helped housewives carry their grocery bags to their homes in return for money. In the summer of 1931, he and his family moved back to the beautiful island of Kythera. His childhood was not the easiest growing up during the Great Depression and World War II. During the warmer months, Pan walked barefoot on the sometimes rocky soil to school for several miles every day, and when he was on the hillside watching the goats the soil was thorny and rocky. Him and his family grew most of their food, which consisted primarily of green vegetables and potatoes. Each person in his family received only three pounds of sugar and twenty pounds of wheat flour to last an entire year. In the wintertime, after my grandpa graduated from middle school at the age of fourteen, he would work in the fields for 10 hours a day each day of the week.

My papou has impacted many people throughout his life and his humble beginnings inspired people like me to do the same with the opportunities I am given. A beacon of light in his tiring work weeks was admiring the beautiful scenery of the boats going by on the island of Kythera. He would breathe in the fresh air and enjoy the bird’s-eye view that he had of the sea and coastline of the island. I have been told stories about the island of Aphrodite from the perspective of my grandfather and family members who have visited the island. I am looking forward to experiencing the warm community of Kythera that I have been told about ever since I was young. A recurring theme that I have noticed is the warmth of the people. Kythera is more than an island, but a loving and connected community. I believe that it is the people that inhabit a place that make it special. My grandfather has shared his love with my sister and I growing up with us. I can feel the spirit of the island through him when he tells stories of the island and our family there. My grandfather used to take his Mandolin and play it on the veranda, which had a view of miles away from the town. Here he would sing and play his instrument. My ninety-six year old grandpa still loves to sing and dance to this day.

A favorite memory of my papou was when he used to go to the Sunday bazaar, and one day I would like to experience the food and community of Kythera. People would sell their dried fruits, produce, and tools in an open area where everybody would enjoy talking. The bazaar has been there for almost four hundred years and even continued during the war. During the war, people traded instead of buying goods or items, and my papou’s family would trade their olive oil for shoes. Here, the Kytherians would meet and talk to each other. After Covid-19 passes, I plan on attending Greek festivals with my friends and family. In the future, I would like to visit the bazaar in Kythera and taste the delicious foods and local products. Potamos, the Village of the Lady, is a well-known bazaar. 

 When my papou was thirteen-years old, he knew at a young age that he wanted to work within the realm of psychology after reading a book written by a psychologist. I am following in his footsteps and desire to make an impact on the communities that I am a part of as my grandfather did. I have learned from my grandfather’s and mother’s kind spirits that I want to be a person that helps others. I am a senior at the University of California, Irvine studying psychology and minoring in education. When my papou came over from Greece at the age of twenty, he only had the education of a middle schooler in Greece. When he came to the United States as an adult he had to re-learn English. After years of hard work, he earned a PhD in Eastern and Western Contributions to Psychology and a PhD in Counseling Psychology. Additionally, he became a certified Jungian psychoanalysis. My grandfather, mother, and various churches have impacted me to want to continue to make helping others a priority in my life.  I would like to use my psychology degree to help people, families, and communities in need. From a young age, I have always loved volunteering at soup kitchens, within the church, and community based events throughout my life. Ever since I was in middle school and present day, I have had a passion to help foster youth. I plan on continuing this summer volunteering through my church and within the foster youth outreach community. I am grateful for being able to attend my university and being able to pursue these passions of mine. At UC Irvine every friend of mine knows of my Greek heritage because I am always overjoyed to share my heritage and values with others. I strive to carry the spirit of Kythera in my heart and share it with others as my papou has always done. 

 

Su   © KSOCA 2012