By Antonia Komarkowski
Living in Astoria, New York, twenty-two year old Arianna Christou is a proud Greek American. She is currently completing her Master’s Degree in Accounting, as well as working towards achieving her C.P.A. certification.
This year Arianna was one of the recipients awarded the Eva Dossa Scholarship from United Greek Americans (UGA), which supports the academic advancement of young individuals that ignite passion for their Greek American heritage. Arianna believes she was one of the best candidates for this scholarship because her involvement in the Greek community, as well leadership skills stand out.
Arianna has been involved with UGA for approximately 2 years, attending their events in Clearwater, Chicago, and New York. “Hosting events across the country for nearly 10 years, UGA is a great way to meet so many fellow Greeks from around the world and make lifelong memories while embracing our incredible Greek heritage. UGA has been the root of so many phenomenal business connections, friendships, relationships, and marriages throughout the years and is continuing to grow,” said Arianna.
The young, ambitious lady also mentions that her Greek heritage has been guiding her in her everyday life since a very young age. “With 10+ years of Greek School, Sunday School, Greek Dancing, and being involved with many groups within my church community, it has shaped me into the person I am today. I have also been blessed and fortunate enough to spend many summers abroad in Greece and Cyprus, being able to practice the language and embracing my culture. In addition to the many trips with my parents while growing up, I am now grateful for the years I spent learning the language and embracing the culture enough to have made several trips on my own the past few years, and to have taken several non-Greek friends overseas to show them how amazing our country and culture is.”
In 2016, she made the decision to study abroad. She recalls asking herself pressing questions like
“Out of any country in the world, why Greece, why Cyprus? Why come back to somewhere you have already been so many times? Why not go somewhere new?” But the answer for her was simple. “I have my entire life ahead of me to travel the world and see different countries, but an opportunity like this, to spend half a year in my homeland, to be able to embrace my heritage and culture, perfect my Greek language, and spend time with all my relatives overseas didn’t cross my mind twice,” she recalls.
Arianna has also been honoured this year with the title ‘Miss Cyprus of North America’. She said “being privileged of this opportunity to represent my country for the next two years and being able to influence the future generations of Greek-American youth through several events and gatherings throughout the year is the most rewarding part of this title. By sharing my stories and experiences to inspire kids to want to be involved in the Greek community, travel to Greece in the summer, and maintain the traditions that our parents and grandparents have instilled in us makes me proud. I want to pass these values down. If the children are not involved in their youth, they will not have the drive to keep ties as they get older, therefore losing their Greek roots.
Being fortunate enough to hold this personal connection with so many young Greek-American children will hopefully show them how blessed and unique we are to be Greek, and to cherish our native roots.”
Reflecting on her Greek American background, she says that “what lacks the most in today’s Greek-American Society is the preservation of the true meaning and value behind our traditions and culture. It is important that parents are the driving force behind the children, and maintaining the practices for future generations. Without parents instilling this in the youth there will be no future. It is important for the youth to be involved in the church community, to learn the Greek language and the Orthodox religion, to be able to embrace being Greek and stand proud amongst others.”
She continues to say, “What is important for the future generations is to learn the importance of our culture, language, and practices, to be able to continue the traditions for years to follow. But this begins with the parents. Yes the children will fight and refuse, I am too guilty of this… but looking back it is the best thing my parents have ever done for me.”