March 2019 – 5 Greeks

5 Greeks You Should Know
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5 Greeks You Should Know About

By Giuliana Harris

In celebration of Greek Independence Day, I spoke with attendees and participants of multiple ages from FDF about their special meanings of the traditions of the Greek culture. As Greek-Americans, there are many things we do to honor our Hellenism. Whether it is participating in AHEPA, Folk Dancing, Greek School, and so forth, there are many ways to celebrate the traditions and customs of our Greek Culture. Sharing reflections on either their heritage or the impact that FDF has had on them, please enjoy reading how the various aspects of the Greek Culture impacts our community.

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Please share what your Greek Culture means to you.

Theila of Arizona at FDF 2019. (L to R) Christy Goudamanis, Anna Panagiotakopoulos, Michael Vaughn, Haroula Kyriacou, Niko Panagiotakopoulos, and Gabriella Papatzimas (Photo Credit: Connie Panagiotakopoulos).

Anna Panagiotakopoulos, Arizona: My Greek culture means the world to me. It has given me the opportunity to get in touch with my ancestors, my family, my heritage and my past,while continuing long lasting traditions for my future. It has allowed me to be a part of such great organizations such as the Maids of Athena and now Daughters of Penelope, my ever so prideful Greek Folk Dance Group and even athletics through AHEPA. Most importantly, I have met hundreds of people, all over the world, both young and old who share the same sense of pride about being Greek.

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Please share what your Greek Culture means to you.

Tony Kariotis on the Acropolis of Lindos in Rhodes, Greece (Photo Courtesy of Tony Kariotis).

Tony Kariotis, Massachusetts: My Greek Heritage means everything to me and my passion is to share that with everyone! Most of my hobbies are related to Greece:

I am the curator of the @greece Instagram page, I’m also known as @iamgreece where I share my own Greece travel photography. What inspires the @greece and @iamgreece photography, basically, I love spending time in Greece and over the years my passion for photography grew from just casual photos to now taking it a bit more serious, while remaining a hobby. I spent 2.5 months in Greece this summer on a vacation/photography journey!

I am the voice of the Kefi Sports Show on KefiFM Greek Radio, a weekly sports talk show with a podcast available on iTunes where I had the opportunity to interview Giannis Antetokounmpo; I also run one of the largest Greek-American basketball tournaments in the US, The Teddy K Classic in Boston, MA (a scholarship foundation, annual basketball tournament). It is a memorial basketball tournament for my father who passed in 2008, Teddy Kariotis. He was a strong staple in the Metropolis of Boston Youth sports programs.

In addition, I am also one of the main organizers for Greek Heritage Night at the Boston Celtics game each year vs. the Milwaukee Bucks with Giannis Antetokounmpo. In 2017, we drew in 2,000 Greeks. In 2018, we followed up with an encore, which was just as successful and I personally organized an ‘After-Party’ where funds were donated to Greece to the orphanage that was burnt down this past summer. I teamed up with The Hellenic Initiative to make sure the funds got into the right hands.


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Please share what your Greek Culture means to you.

Christo Pappademos on the Island of Paros, Greece (Photo Credit: Chris Metos).

Christo Pappademos, Northern California: My Greek Culture is a great blessing to me. As Greeks, we proudly claim many accomplishments in the arts, in music, in philosophy, and in history. But to me, the most prized possession of our culture is our beautiful Orthodox Faith. To be born into this faith by virtue of our culture is a miracle in itself, so when people ask me about my heritage, it brings me great joy to be able to say, “I’m Greek.”

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What does FDF mean to you?

Alexander Kasolas (center), with his mother, Stella Pantazis (L), and father, Mike Kasolas (R). (Photo Credit: The Hellenic Journal).

Alexander Kasolas, Northern California: “For me, FDF is an incredible opportunity to celebrate our culture and faith, and of course, to dance and sing with my friends and cousins. At FDF, I enjoy reconnecting with friends I’ve met over the years at our Greek Village Metropolis Summer camp. This is my 10th year participating in FDF, where I am developing bonds that will last a lifetime.”

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What does FDF mean to you?

Sophia Konugres in Karpathos, Greece (Photo Credit: Sam Konugres).

Sophia Konugres, Southern California: “Christ is the center of our home. Our FDF ministry has been a blessing for many generations.  I remember when FDF first started 43 years ago. I was part of its first five years, and beyond.  Our dance group was named the Odyssey Dancers from Saint Prophet Elias in San Bernardino, CA.

Sophia Konugres in costume for the Odyssey Dancers (Photo Courtesy of Sophia Konugres)

At that time from what I recall we had only about five groups.   At this year’s FDF, we had 112 groups.  This warms my heart.  Bishop Anthony of Blessed Memory had this vision that has become a reality with the hard-working team behind it. Years later I directed at Saint Sophia’s Cathedral.  A rewarding experience to give back.

My children, now 24 and 21, also are blessed to go through the FDF Ministry.  Experiencing FDF as a parent was another beautiful bond as well.  They have long life friendships as I have also. Three years ago, we celebrated our 40-year anniversary of FDF. Myself with many other original dancers had the honor of performing on stage once again.  After our performance, Father Gary Kyriakou called up our spouses and our children. It was at that moment it was apparent how FDF came full circle! It gave me chills! It was an epic moment. I hold this beautiful ministry close to my heart.  My prayer is that it continues for generations and generations to come. FDF means Unity in our communities.  Celebrating our faith through dance is life!”


Email the author: Giuliana

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