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“The Heart of Greece Beats in Melbourne”

NK 9603

“The Heart of Greece Beats in Melbourne”

The Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM) expresses deep gratitude and heartfelt sentiments in response to a letter received from Mrs. Sofia Giannaki Kagadi and the Ionion Centre for Arts & Culture. Her portrayal of her experience at this year's Antipodes Festival on Lonsdale Street, Melbourne’s historic Greek precinct, and her acknowledgment of the efforts by the GCM, is a source of motivation for the GCM.

In her letter, Mrs. Giannaki Kagadi reminisces about the Festival, recognizing the strong bond between the community and the preservation of Hellenism in multicultural Melbourne. Specifically, she notes, "The heart of Greece beats in Melbourne. It's evident that the Greek Diaspora has upheld the values they brought with them. The Greek flag in the hands of the youth. Musical melodies echoing the essence of Greek landscapes, from mountains to islands and seas. Pure Greek words spoken with reverence. Schools and educators passionately advocating for the preservation of Greek language and heritage. Congratulations to the Greek Community of Melbourne for their dedicated work. Congratulations to the Greek Diaspora for nurturing their children. Congratulations to Australia for embracing and enriching Greek values.”

Bill Papastergiadis, OAM, President of the GCM, remarked that Mrs. Giannaki Kagadi's letter underscores the significant and enduring impact of the GCM’s endeavours. Within her words, the vibrant tapestry of our shared cultural heritage as Greeks abroad is vividly portrayed, affirming our commitment to evolve dynamically in the future while steadfastly preserving our identity.”

Leonidas Vlachakis, Chair of the GCM Cultural Committee, stated “Mrs. Giannaki Kagadi's sentiments will serve as an inspiring force propelling us forward in our mission to keep the Greek flame burning brightly, even amidst the distance from our homeland.”

The complete letter follows:

2024 Antipodes Festival

Dear Mr. Papastergiadis,

I am reaching out to you due to your esteemed position and contributions to the Greek Community. Recently, I had the unexpected pleasure of experiencing the ''36th Antipodes'' event on Lonsdale Street, right in the heart of Melbourne. Despite growing up in these familiar surroundings, the spectacle I witnessed on February 24th and 25th offered a fresh perspective that left me awestruck.

The monumental discus thrower emblem gracing the 15-storey façade of the Greek Centre on Lonsdale Street. As the old saying “Opou Gis & Patris”, a wishful thinking of every Greek expat.

Throughout the event, I encountered numerous symbols of Greek identity and cultural vitality. From young children proudly holding the Greek flag, to the melodic strains echoing the essence of Greek landscapes, and the abundance of Greek language resonating through the ages, the atmosphere was

alive with the spirit of Philhellenism. The diverse array of attendees, including the radiant youth of organizations like the Palladian Brotherhood and ''SAINT GERRY,'' underscored the richness of our community. The event also showcased the tireless dedication of schools and educators in preserving Greek language and heritage, while the presence of various cultural kiosks highlighted the unwavering spiritual quest of the Greek Diaspora (including the Historical Brotherhood of the Ithakians). An endless list of touching surprises for those who know and those who don't know the Diaspora.

It is an indisputable truth that the essence of Greece pulsates vibrantly in this place. The Greeks of the Diaspora have admirably upheld the values they carried with them, nurturing a flourishing legacy symbolized by the thousands of children gracing the 36th Antipodes event. These children, through their performances, vividly brought to life the rich tapestry of Hellenic history, spanning from mainland Greece to its islands, Pontus, and beyond. Remarkably, not a single inappropriate word was uttered by them, showcasing their innate reverence and dignity. They embody the spirit of Hellenism, with the lyre's melody coursing through their veins, proudly representing it.

This generation of Diaspora children is the burgeoning tree of Hellenism, thriving beyond geographical borders. We earnestly hope that Greece acknowledges and supports this vital aspect of its cultural heritage, ensuring its continued growth and preservation of its inherent values within multicultural societies.

Heartfelt congratulations are extended to the Greek Community of Melbourne for their commendable efforts, to the Greeks of the Diaspora for nurturing their offspring, and to Australia for its unwavering commitment to upholding and reinforcing Greek values. Rest assured; we stand in solidarity with you in the noble task of safeguarding Greek culture.

Sofia Giannaki Kagadi and the Ionion Center for the Arts and Culture

CF2 2745
LL G0044621
MP 6418