"THE HEART OF GREECE BEATS IN MELBOURNE" - AN OBSERVER'S OPINION

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Melbourne, 5/3/2024

The Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM) extends its deepest gratitude to Mrs. Sofia Giannaki Kagadi and the Ionion Centre for Arts & Culture for their profound letter. Mrs. Giannaki Kagadi's reflections on her experience at this year's Antipodes Festival in Melbourne's historic Greek precinct on Lonsdale Street have deeply touched us and served as a source of motivation for the GCM.

In her letter, Mrs Giannaki Kagadi beautifully captures the essence of the festival and highlights the strong bond between the community and the preservation of Hellenism in multicultural Melbourne. Her words resonate deeply, emphasizing that "The heart of Greece beats in Melbourne" and acknowledging the vibrant display of Greek culture and heritage at the festival.

Bill Papastergiadis, OAM, President of the GCM, emphasized the significant and enduring impact of Mrs Giannaki Kagadi's sentiments. He noted that her portrayal vividly portrays the vibrant tapestry of our shared cultural heritage as Greeks abroad, affirming our commitment to preserving our identity while evolving dynamically in the future.

Leonidas Vlachakis, Chair of the GCM Cultural Committee, remarked that 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 Greek Community of Melbourne expresses its heartfelt appreciation to Mrs. Sofia Giannaki Kagadi and the Ionion Centre for Arts & Culture for their unwavering support and recognition of our community's efforts.

"THE HEART OF GREECE BEATS IN MELBOURNE" - AN OBSERVER'S OPINION

Melbourne, [Date]

The Greek Community of Melbourne (GCM) extends its deepest gratitude to Mrs. Sofia Giannaki Kagadi and the Ionion Centre for Arts & Culture for their profound letter. Mrs. Giannaki Kagadi's reflections on her experience at this year's Antipodes Festival in Melbourne's historic Greek precinct on Lonsdale Street have deeply touched us and served as a source of motivation for the GCM.

In her letter, Mrs Giannaki Kagadi beautifully captures the essence of the festival and highlights the strong bond between the community and the preservation of Hellenism in multicultural Melbourne. Her words resonate deeply, emphasizing that "The heart of Greece beats in Melbourne" and acknowledging the vibrant display of Greek culture and heritage at the festival.

Bill Papastergiadis, OAM, President of the GCM, emphasized the significant and enduring impact of Mrs Giannaki Kagadi's sentiments. He noted that her portrayal vividly portrays the vibrant tapestry of our shared cultural heritage as Greeks abroad, affirming our commitment to preserving our identity while evolving dynamically in the future.

Leonidas Vlachakis, Chair of the GCM Cultural Committee, remarked that 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 Greek Community of Melbourne expresses its heartfelt appreciation to Mrs. Sofia Giannaki Kagadi and the Ionion Centre for Arts & Culture for their unwavering support and recognition of our community's efforts.

The complete letter follows:

2024 Antipodes Festival

Dear Mr. Papastergiadis,

I am reaching out to you because of 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 graces 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. I encountered numerous symbols of Greek identity and cultural vitality throughout the event. 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

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