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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 28 July 2018
22 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 28 JULY 2018 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM (L-R)at front: Miria Cambel (nee Mirianthi Kassianides ‘Cass’) and first cousin Helen Camp (Jim Kampaklis’ daughter). Back row: Aristides Kampaklis holding grandson Andrew (Miria’s brother), and Anastasia Kampaklis holding grandson Chris (son of Jim Kampaklis). Photo taken in 1961 at Andrew’s christening , Evangelismos Greek Orthodox Church, East Melbourne. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MIRIA CAMBEL Salome Argyropoulos’ father, Anastasios, made his way to Australia aboard ‘Flaminia’ in 1959. The ship was in such poor condition that as soon as it reached the Port Melbourne pier, it was seized by authorities. PHOTO: ABC/STATE LIBRARY OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA Stories from the ships We take a peek at Greek migration stories in Recalling the Journey II, an upcoming publication bringing together accounts of arrival in Australia from families spanning 14 cultural heritages COMPILED BY ZOE THOMAIDOU Modern Australia is a country inundated with migration and displacement stories, yet many of those remain absent from the annals of its history; their memories kept alive within the hearts of those lucky enough to have heard firsthand accounts from their family members. Recalling the Journey II is a project that aims to turn some of those hidden gems into public knowledge. The publication, sustained by executive editor Lella Cariddi, forms part of the ongoing documentation of migration stories under the auspices of Multicultural Arts Victoria and has been supported by the City of Port Phillip through the Cultural Development Fund. Twenty-seven family accounts spanning 14 cultural backgrounds are brought together in an e-book, which, at first glance, appears to be a collection of mini-biographies of people who made the long journey to Australia, starting from the 1850s up to 2012. But every 'ship story' seamlessly reveals aspects of events that changed the course of history, such as the Asia Minor Catastrophe, the plight of the Palestinian people, or the displacement from former Yugoslavia. Meeting 'memory keepers', whose roots belong to Bosnia, China, England, France, Greece, Holland, Iran, Italy, Kurdistan, Malta, Palestine, Taiwan, Turkey, and Ukraine, the reader is also given a taste of the social history at the time and place of each family's migration route. The common thread in this diverse compilation is the adventurous spirit and resilience of those who moved across borders in search of a better future for themselves and their offsprings. Importantly, taking a closer look at these journeys of gritty courage with people struggling to accommodate 'the new' while mourning 'the old' and still managing to look ahead with optimism, we are invited to reflect and maybe rethink our response to immigration to Australia today. The e-book Recalling the Journey II will be launched in Melbourne in the coming days, in a special event where attendees will have the opportunity to meet the authors in person and listen to some of the readings. Ahead of the event, Neos Kosmos was privileged to have access to three manuscripts of stories included in the publication, lovingly composed by second- and third-generation Australians of Greek origin – Salome Argyropoulos, duo Sophia Xeros-Constantinides and Miria Capbel, and Con Pagonis. Each of the contributing authors provide fascinating details about their family's evolution from the places of their ancestral origin to their Australian experiences. ABOARD A DILAPIDATED SHIP'S VOYAGE TO AUSTRALIA Salome Argyropoulos recounts the story of her father Anastasios' migration journey in 1959 on a ship that was in such a derelict state that the moment it hit Australian shores it was seized by authorities. Anastasios' decision to head down under was prompted by his desire to escape poverty. He was raised in small village Simantra in Chalkidiki and only moved to Thessaloniki when he reached adulthood to learn a trade. Leaving behind his 22-year-old wife, Despina, and toddler son Jim, who would join him later, he set out for the land of plenty, following the same path that his brother Chris had made four years earlier. Starting a life from scratch in a country at the other end of the world was not meant to be a walk in the park, but little did Anastasios know that the journey there, would be an adventure on its own. "He travelled for 33 days on the Italian ship Flaminia, which was so old and dilapidated he and the friends he had made whilst on board thought it would sink any day," writes Salome. Through his daughter's manuscript, we learn about Anastasios' efforts to find money after his minimal savings were drained in the first week of the trip and his rivalry with the Greek captain, who was jealous of his popularity among young women passengers. Upon arrival in Australia, his experiences were also typical of many migrants' reality at that time, from landing his first job at General Motors to the funny anecdote of sharing a tiny bungalow with a friend who could not tolerate his loud snoring! In a side story, we also get to read his wife's, Despina, recounting of the trip she made two years later to join Anastasios with their son. And it is impossible to overlook that within a few lines taken from this brief extract, Despina manages to capture the life in the new country as it unfolded not only for her, but also for thousands first generation Greek migrants. "Our plan was to stay in Australia only for a few years, earn enough money to last us for a lifetime, and then return to our beloved motherland, Greece. However, this was not how things turned out. We had three more children, and ended up making Australia our home."
21 July 2018
4 August 2018