Athens, Greece & Panama
Arrived in the US
What are some of your earliest memories?
I remember my grandma cooking for us and babysitting sometimes. Taking excursions with my parents and going camping. Hiking to a place and having a barbecue there. The island in Greece where my grandmother is from has no paved streets and just donkeys. I remember washing our clothes with my mom in the well and then putting the clothes out to dry.
What has you journey to the U.S. been like?
I was born in Athens, Greece. When I was 8, we moved to Panama. Panama shaped me in a big way. Both countries are part of who I am.
What have you learned?
When people ask: Where are you from? What is that accent? It makes you feel like I’m different. And I used to think maybe I don’t belong. Now I see that as a positive thing. No one really belongs anywhere. You can be born here and not belong here. When you move to a place, you don’t want to be that different. You want to belong. You want to fit in. Now I embrace that I am different. I like it. I was just born into a household with two different nationalities. I’m very happy to be like that. I am an immigrant and I’m happy to be one.
What have you gained? What have you given up?
I’ve given up being close to my family and being with them.
I gained many friends from so many international places and we have become family. We are connecting through our differences because everyone is from somewhere different. I’ve gained another family through my friends here in Charlotte.
What message would you share with a newly arriving immigrant?
Immerse yourself in the culture of wherever you go. Get to know the place. There are a lot of immigrants here. Don’t stay only within your own group. Go to International House and InterNations events. You don’t need to belong in a place, fit in, and follow rules. You get to find people who are similar to you, which you will find anywhere you go. Don’t stop yourself to be able to belong.