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2021 Scholarship Recipient

Grant Gallaway

My Famiy History on Kythera

From the time I was little my mom has told me that I remind her of my grandfather, Milton Alfieris, with my positive outlook on life. His parents, Mary Chlenzos and John Alfieris were born in Kythira and moved to Oakland, CA after they were married. I am proud of my Kytherian heritage and it is definitely a part of who I am, including my love for lamb and sunshine.I feel very fortunate that I have been able to visit Kythira twice and really soak up where my ancestors were from. I was 12 the first time I went with my mom and brother.  It really made an impression on me that the Alfieris and Chlenzos family were known everywhere we went throughout Kythira from the shops, to the beaches and restaurants. That really showed me how small of an island it is, and how connected my family is to the island and the people there.

My Yia Yia told us about a monastery where my fifth or sixth great grandfather had carved the altar. We set out on the journey in a little car up a steep, windy road passing goats along the way. When we eventually arrived at the monastery, we could see the entire island; it was beautiful. We wandered around, enjoying the treasure hunt and then we saw the beautiful floral carvings above the altar. The host of the monastery had seemed uninterested at first, but once we pointed it out and she heard about our connection to the monastery, she cracked a huge smile and gave us treats.

When we went the first time I had no idea that there was a jewelry store owned by a family member in Hora. Seeing something like that in a  town with so much history was incredible.  It’s something unique about me too that not many people can say that they have family in a completely different country.  My parents bought me a cross from the store that I wear every day. Meeting some of my relatives across the world is a memory I will cherish.

Another day we set off to find a waterfall that my mom had fond memories of from when she was our age. It was an adventure trying to find it; we spent a long time, and stopped for a swim in a small swimming hole because of how hot it was. We kept going and eventually came across a beautiful waterfall and swimming hole. My mom remembered taking pictures with her sister under the powerful falls so my brother and I did the same. It was a meaningful experience to share. These visits instilled in me a deep love and appreciation for the people, the land, the food and the traditions. I can’t wait to return and also share Kythira with my own family in the future.

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