Off the Beaten Trail: In Search of St. Nicholas in Russia

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Velikoretsky St. Nicholas icon, St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow

 

 

Santa Claus is not from the North Pole. He is based on Nicholas, the Greek Orthodox Bishop of Myra, Lycia. This Greek/Byzantine city today is called Demre, in the Antalya province of Turkey.

            I had the unique opportunity of visiting Russia in late September through early October 2015, seeing the Byzantine Orthodox civilization of the North.  I visited sites of  Byzantine civilization in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Novgorod, the birthplace of Russian Orthodox Christianity. At Christmas 2015, there is a worldwide travel alert to Russia for a possible risk of travel due to increased terrorist threat (November 23, 2015).1   I managed to get out of Russia in safety.

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The Tretyakov Gallery has a St. Nicholas icon from the 12th-early 13th century.

A whopping 72% of the  Russian adult population identified themselves as Orthodox Christians in 2008.Every Greek family has a member or friend called Nick. Russian iconography that stems back to the 10th century gave me a new perception of this ethnically Greek saint.

My search for St. Nicholas began at St. Basil’s Cathedral (Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat)  Museum in Red Square, Moscow.  St. Nicholas of Velikoretskoye was in an illuminated case. It is a 16th century tempera on wood icon It shows St. Nicholas with scenes of his life.  In 1555 the icon was brought from Vyatka to Moscow. The name Velikoretsky  means “of the big rivers”.  St. Basils Cathedral is divided into ten inner churches. The southern church was consecrated in honor of  the Velikoretsky  St. Nicholas  icon.

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St. Nicholas of Zaraisk, Tretyakov Gallery

We did not have the time to visit St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral in St. Petersburg. It is associated with the Russian Navy and has two churches. The lower St. Nicholas church is located on the first floor. The main shrine has a 17th century Greek icon of St. Nicholas with a relic.8  The Church of the Saviour on the Spilt Blood has an 1890’s St. Nicholas the Wonder worker icon. Our main focus in St. Petersburg was the Hermitage, Peterhof Gardens and Catherine the Great’s Palace.

The Tretyakov Gallery has a St. Nicholas icon from the 12th-early 13th century, Tempera on Wood. This is the earliest surviving Russian icon. This is the Novgorod icon painting style, when Christianity was beginning. St. Nicholas of Zaraisk with scenes of his life is of the Rostov-Suzdal School of the late 13th-early 14th centuries. The only full length fresco of St. Nicholas with an open gospel, 1108-1113 A. D.  is displayed in the Tretyakov Gallery.

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Only full length fresco of St. Nicholas with open gospel, 1108-1113 A. D., Tretyakov Gallery.

On a visit to the “Decorated Icon Exhibit” at Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Moscow, and jeweled St. Nicholas icon was exhibited at the Fine Arts Center. The Cathedral is the largest Orthodox Church in the world. There is a side chapel of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker with a prominent wall icon. “It is located in the south part of the gallery, for the country where St. Nicholas lived. Christianity came to Russia from the south, so the paintings in St. Nicholas’ side chapel illustrate the history of Christianity from the 3rd to the 9th centuries AD, before Russia’s’ conversion to it. It is here that one can see…..the theme of the Seven ecumenical Councils. St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra, an ardent defender of Orthodox Christian doctrines, took part in the first Ecumenical council. That’s why these subjects are to be found next to those concerned with his pious life and Christian virtues in his chapel.”3         

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A jeweled St. Nicholas icon, Fine Arts Center, Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Moscow.

  The art of the Moscow goldsmiths in the 16th century is displayed in the Armory, Moscow Kremlin Museum. The art of fine enameling with large uncut stones is displayed in icons. “The folding icon of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Worker…is silver, but its cover is gold decorated with gems and pearls.”4

                We did not have the time to visit St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral in St. Petersburg. It is associated with the Russian Navy and has two churches. The lower St. Nicholas church is located on the first floor. The main shrine has a 17th century Greek icon of St. Nicholas with a relic.5  The Church of the Saviour on the Spilt Blood has an 1890’s St. Nicholas the Wonder worker icon. Our main focus in St. Petersburg was the Hermitage, Peterho  Gardens and Catherine the Great’s Palace.

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Side chapel of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Moscow.

            An eight hour round trip from St. Petersburg took us to Novgorod, near the Swedish border. “The Novgorod State Museum’s collection of early Russian painting is unquestionably one of the finest in the world…Highlights from the earliest period (11th to 13th centuries) include ..St. Nicolas of Myra in Lycia (St. Nicholas of Lipno). These are prototypical images of the 14th and 15th centuries. ‘St. Nicholas of Lipno’ icon painted by Aleksa Petrov in 1294 is the earliest dated Russian icon. The fact that it bears the artists’s signature gives it unique historical significance.” 6  A circular icon of St. Nicholas that is dated 13th-14th century? possibly 16th century is the first icon that came into view when we entered the icon section.The site http://www.novgorod.ru/english/read/information/icons-sorted/ shows St. Nicholas icons from the middle 13th to end of 16th century.

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Folding St. Nicholas icon, 16th century, Armory, Moscow

            Early Russian painting was one of the most significant achievement of this civilization. Byzantium with its capital in Constantinople had a unique splendor of artistic Christian art that impressed the Slavic tribes. The early Russians believed that they “knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth for surely there is no such splendor or beauty anywhere on earth. We know not how to describe to you. The only thing we are certain about if that God makes His dwelling among the people there and their service is better than in any other country. We can not forget the beauty.”7 The Russian icon for centuries has been striving to reflect the ideal beauty of the heavenly world. 8

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Circular icon of St. Nicholas that is dated 13th-14th century, possibly 16th century, Novgorod State Museum.

Nicolas, Bishop of Myra, has always been the most admired saint, according to the book, “The Russian Icon” by the editorial Board of the Russian Orthodox Church. He prays for all Christians, helps people in misfortunes, protects travelers and quickly defends those to whom injustice has been made. His veneration in Early Russia was almost as great as that of Christ and Mary. Numerous churches were dedicated to St. Nicholas. A large quantity of icons were created in his memory. Russian proverbs show a deep faith in his power.9 Our roots are in Greece, a country plundered by conquests. My 2015 Russian trip showed me that our Byzantine inheritance lived on after the fall of Constantinople with, as the next generation of my family says, “with the Greeks of the North”.

References:

  1. http://moscow.usembassy.gov/warden.html
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/11/religion-russia-orthodox-christian_n_4766753.html
  3. “Cathedral Of Christ The Savior (Ivan Fiodorov Printing Company: Russia, 2005), pp. 25-9.
  4. S. Goncharenko and V.I. Narozhnaya, “THE ARMORY: A guide” (Red Square Publishers:Moscow, 2012), PP.36-9.
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Nicholas_Naval_Cathedral
  6. N, Grinev, “NOVGOROD THE GREAT” (Ivan Fiodorov Art Publishers: St. Petersburg,2004), pp. 48-50.
  7. Editorial Board of the Russian Orthodox Church, “Russian Icon” (P-2 Art Publishers: St. Petersburg,, 2011) p. 1,
  8. “Russian Icon”, pp. 2-3.
  9. “Russian Icon” p. 9.

https://picasaweb.google.com/105743188183721570894/December142015-

Links:

http://www.tretyakovgallery.ru/en/- Tretyakov gallery

http://www.novgorod.ru/english/

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The Passing of a Great Lady who Saved Lives: Mrs. Dimitra Kustas

https://obittree.com/obituary/us/new-york/hopewell-junction/mchoul-funeral-home-inc/dimitra-kustas/3208321/tributes.php?c=1&id=10808043

Dimitra P. Kustas

Obituary for Dimitra P. Kustas

Dimitra (Kotsiou) Kustas passed away October 10, 2017. She was born January 5, 1927 in the town of Palaiopyrgos Greece. She was the youngest of 3 siblings, a brother George and two sisters Constance and Vicky. During the World War II she was sent to work in Tripoli and then after World War II and the Greek Civil War she returned to her village to find her parents had died. Her brother had left for Australia and her two sisters were married and so she went to stay with relatives and work in Athens.

There she met Thomas and Zoe Cavalaris who wanted to bring back a nanny to help raise their two sons Jimmy and Tom in a traditional Greek household in Charlotte North Carolina. She immediately became part of the family and as was customary in Greek culture, the local Greek community looked for suitors. Family friends of the Cavalris’, Kosta and Katina Kontos knew of a young man Peter Kustas in Poughkeepsie, New York who they wanted to introduce to Dimitra. They arranged for Peter to come to Charlotte for a visit. They immediately hit it off and were married in 1955. The Cavalaris family married Dimitra as a daughter with a rehearsal dinner and full wedding and reception. and their son Tom was the “second best man”. He also baptized Dimitra and Peter’s only son, William.

Dimitra moved to La Grangeville New York and she worked in Pete’s restaurant called the Parkway Rest. They were very successful and loved by the community. Often in the Fall, there would be lines of people from New York City waiting to come in and eat at the restaurant after an outing to see the autumn colors or go apple and pumpkin picking. Pete and Dimitra were very generous known to help many in the community who needed a free meal or a place to stay in the attic bedrooms at the restaurant. After Peter’s untimely death in 1964, Dimitra became a single parent and went about raising her two children, Constance (Connie) and William (Bill). She was supported by her close friends John and Virginia Linardakis who were Connie’s godparents.

Along the way Dimitra sponsored her two sisters and their families to come from Greece in 1967 and 1969. Her sister Connie’s family included her husband George, their sons John and Peter, and their daughters Nicky and Maria. Her sister Vicky’s family included Nick her husband, their son Dimitri and their daughters Giota and Eugenia. Dimitra shared her home with her sisters’ families and even after they found places of their own, would continue to spend time visiting and hosting get-togethers with her relatives. The families flourished opening restaurants in Poughkeepsie, Rhinebeck and Hyde Park while others moved to New York City to became successful in business and teaching.

Dimitra never forgot her roots and how fortunate she had it in this country. She was a hard worker and at times held several jobs to make ends meet, which included the Alumni House at Vassar, Arlington School system, a commercial apple orchard in La Grangeville, and Orchard Communications as well as managed three rental properties on the Kustas estate. She was an incredible woman and so very generous to everyone. She loved to cook and whenever anyone came to visit, the Greek food and pastries came out.

Her daughter Connie graduated from Vassar and works at Marist College in their accounting department. Her son Bill graduated from SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry and Cornell University with a PhD. He works for the USDA-Agricultural Research Service in Maryland. Dimitra stressed education as being so important. She would often say to her grandchildren “School is the best!”, something she was never able to do for herself. She sacrificed all her time and energy on her immediate and extended family and friends.

She was loved and respected by all that came to know her as a loving and caring person. She always had on a smile and always remained positive even through some very difficult times, which was our blessing. Dimitra had a positive impact on many lives and always held to her strong beliefs in God and on being generous to others. She is survived by her son and daughter, her daughter in-law Bridget and her three grandchildren Mary Shea, Teresa and Peter in addition to a great number of cousins, nieces and nephews.

Memorial contributions may be made to The National Down Syndrome Society http://www.ndss.org/Ways-to-Give/

 

Determination and Vision at 2017 St. Nicholas Festival Flushing, New York

 

 

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“Real Leaders are ordinary people with extraordinary determination and vision”- Astoria Walk Dedicated in Honor of Peter F. Vallone, Sr.

Old-fashioned festivals free to public are becoming rare. Greek Orthodox Church festivals are being replaced by Taverna Nights with a $65+ fee. The 46th Annual Festival of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Flushing was held on Thursday, October 5th to Sunday, October 8th Columbus weekend. Admission was free. Attractions included souvlaki, gyro, pastries and loukoumades, a flea market, games, Church tours, Greek folk dancing performances by the schools, live Greek music and vendors. People attended, making it one of the most popular New York City festivals. A fabulous raffle of cars was offered. Sotirios Georgiou served as Festival Chairperson for the 13th year. The Clergy are Rev. Protopresbyter who is celebrating his 40th Anniversary Ministry in January, 2018, Rev. Presbyter Aristidis Garinis and Rev. Presbyter Andreas Houpos. Mrs. Athena Kromidas is the Principal of the William Spyropoulos School. Mr. George Kanellopoulos is Principal of the Arete and Stephen Cherpelis Greek Afternoon School.

The 111th Police Precinct expanded uniform and plain clothes officers. The October 1st Las Vegas shooting, at country music festival killing at least 59 people and injuring more than 500 near the Mandalay Bay Hotel-Casino, was a shadow over the week. P.O. Luigi Galano, P.O. John Erdman, Cpt. Isom and Lt. Sean Dolphin under Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector William McBride supervised with vigilance and professionalism excellent police surveillance. Street barriers closed 196th Street and Northern Blvd. Young and old walked with ease enjoying great summer weather. Church organizers with determination and vision made the Festival an outstanding New York City event.

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Food Court

Vendors Irene Tsiaris and Babis Sampelidis fashion unique jewelry, accessories, home décor in their “Glass Creations By Irene” business in display. “Our mission is to promote Greek-American art to the Greater American Public,” explained Irene.

“My energy is reflected in my icon painting on rocks. We form from spontaneous experiences and encounters with our environment.” These artists have created a powerful and moving collection of pieces showing their understanding of the art and culture of the world. The local vendors and banks have enjoyable displays. For more informations, contact info@stnicholasflushing.org.

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NYPD

Second generation graduates of the William Spyropoulos School and Arete and Stephen Cherpelis Greek Afternoon School played an active role in 2017.Sotirios Georgiou, a graduate of the William Spyropoulos School is serving over 12 years as Festival chairperson. His easy-going personality with a smile makes every festival special. “We are strong, working together,” he said. It is an honor to serve the church in such a way.”. His children, the third generation are playing an active role. For more information, visit www.stnicholasflushing.org.
Dr. Maria Teresa Sakatis Ioannou, a second-generation graduate has her three children, the third generation, enrolled at the William Spyropoulos School. Her parents, the late John Sakatis of Kos, Greece and Myrna Sakatis were devoted to church and school. Dr. Ioannou is carrying on a family tradition. “I graduated 27 years ago.,” she explained. “I see my children continue the legacy of this wonderful school. When I come to drop off and pick up my kids, I feel as if I am visiting my second home.” Dr. Ioannou has “Vida Dental Spa” at 11-01 154th St. Whitestone, N.Y.

Christopher Fillos, a second-generation graduate, can be seen cooking souvlakia for four days. His parents, Sotiria and Theodore Fillos have been helping in food preparation for many years. They are from Karpenisi, Greece. A strong, active group from their organization Evrytanon Amerikis “

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Karpenisi society

To Karpenisi” aids St. Nicholas church every year in all church events. The prefecture of Evrytania and its main town Karpenisi is known for its natural, mountainous beauty in central Greece. Historically, it has been a passageway through Greece for invaders. The Karpenisiotes are tough, determined, focused individuals. They are all united with one purpose: loyalty to family and friends by maintaining strong ties to the Greek language, culture and Orthodox religion.

Stephen Cherpelis, Dikaiophylax Archon ( Defender of the Faith) of the Greek Orthodox Church and founder of the Areti and Stephen Cherpelis Greek Afternoon School of St. Nicholas Church,is from Karpenisi. President Demosthenes Triantafillou of the Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” thanked Mr. Cherpelis for his generous $500 donation to their Sept. 24th Testimonial for this writer.

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Dr. Ioannou with Myrna Sakatis.

Cherpelis “admires and respects the work of Hellenism and Paideia (education) of Prometheus and their honoree.” Every year he plays an active role selling Festival raffles, contributing to its enormous success.

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Dikaiophylax Archon Stephen Cherpelis

The congregation of the Greek Orthodox Shrine Church of St. Nicholas in 1971 was the first community organization to sponsor an ethnic festival in the New York metropolitan area. In 46 years, a growing circle of New Yorkers come to enjoy themselves. For more information, visit www.stnicholasflushing.org.

 

 

September 24th, 2017: Love of Greek Language, Culture and Heritage

https://hellenicnews.com/loyalty-friendship-expressed-september-24th-testimonial-honor-educator-catherine-tsounis/

LOYALTY AND FRIENDSHIP EXPRESSED AT SEPTEMBER 24TH TESTIMONIAL IN HONOR OF EDUCATOR CATHERINE TSOUNIS

By Catherine Tsounis, Contributing Editor

One hundred and fifty persons packed the Heritage Museum of Epirus at 25-14 Broadway, New York on Sunday September 24th to show loyalty and respect for the Greek language, culture and Greek Orthodox faith in the United States of America. The Hellenic News of America, Hellenic American National Council, Prometheus Greek Teachers Association, The Heritage Museum of Epirus and Hellenic Paideia Association of America will sponsor a Greek Heritage Education Luncheon honored Catherine Tsounis, Journalist/Writer/Educator of the Greek Language and Culture. Soprano Olga Xanthopoulos, internationally famous soprano, sang Tzivaeri, to honor Ms. Tsounis Asia Minor roots. Pianist/violinist/guitarist Erasmia Voulelatos added popular Greek melodies.

A power point presentation was presented by Prof. Tsounis describing her roots, highlights Honoree showing her Powerpoint presentation.of her 53-year career in Journalism from a High School sophomore, Real Estate Broker at Andrew Stype Real Estate in Mattituck, NY, and appreciation to sponsors and their staffs. The theme was “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others’ by Pericles. “I was deeply touched by the round of applause for my immigrant grandfather, Vlassios Tsounis, who served in the U.S. army in 1914,” said Prof. Tsounis. “He was a decorated purple heart veteran with the equivalent of the silver star. My father, George Tsounis was a second-generation purple heart recipient and a WWII prisoner of war for one year in East Germany. I was taught ‘my country right or wrong”. Because 75% of my family were refugees from the shores of Asia Minor, losing their lives because they remained Greek and Greek Orthodox, I felt I had a moral duty to perpetuate the Greek language, culture and Orthodox religion. My slide program showed my commitment to Hellenism since I was a teenager during the Vietnam War.” The September 24, 2017 PowerPoint Presentation by Catherine Tsounis was assisted by: Jerry Matovcik, under Director Jeff Walden of Mattituck Library, N.Y.; edited by Despina Siolas, MD/Ph.D.; program direction: Thanasis Tsuvelis, Michael Giakumelos MGTV USA and Prof. Alexander Colombos, Technology Director and Secretary of the Board of the Greek Teachers Association Prometheus.

A lavish luncheon, complements of the Sponsors, was served by the Greek Teachers Association Prometheus Board and members. Mrs. Chrisoula Zicopoulos, Director of the Heritage Museum of Epirus, Eva Kantlis, Vice-President, Society Epirotans “Anagenesis” and Panagiotis Vlassis helped in preparing the hall. All were invited to visit the Heritage Museum of Epirus. Irene Cheung, Founder and President of the Key Luck Club, has been assisting the societies with community support in Queens. A Prometheus Greek Teachers Fund was launched. Dr. Aristotle Michopoulos, Professor and Director of Greek Studies at Hellenic College, donated $10,000 along with other donors. For a complete list of donors and information, email dtrianta@aol.com.

The following Awards were given from The Hellenic News of America, Hellenic American National Council, Mid Atlantic Greek-American Foundation for Sergiani for Epirus, Prometheus Greek Teachers Association, Hellenic Paideia Association of America, and Federation of Hellenic American Teachers. Mrs. Elaine Xiaojiang Fan, Queens Borough Director of the City of New York Comptroller’s Office of Scott M. Stringer presented a 20 inch framed Commendation “for her many years of exceptional journalism, reporting on issues that matter to New York City’s Greek American community; for her commitment to preserving and promoting Greece’s rich history and vibrant culture; for her outstanding service as an educator at St. John’s University; for sharing the diversity that Greek Americans bring to our City’s  cultural landscape with readers; for honoring Greece’s extraordinary contributions to the world; gaining the respect, appreciation and gratitude of all she has worked with; and for her tremendous contributions to the City of New York. Scott M. Stringer, Comptroller, September 24, 2017.”

Mrs. Irene Cheung, President of the Key Luck Club of Bayside, New York said “Catherine Tsounis is a part of our community. I present this Merit Citation on behalf of Barry S. Grodenchik of the City Council.” The following citations were given from: Nicole Malliotakis, NYS Assembly; Aravella Simotas, NYS Assembly; Edward C. Braunstein, NYS Assembly; Paul Valone, NY City Council; Costa Constantinides, NY City Council and Michael N. Gianaris, NYS Senate District. B’NAI B’RITH INTERNATIONAL President Prof. Asher J. Matathias presented  “the happy augury that is the Greek Heritage Luncheon honoring Prof. Catherine Tsounis Siolas who has achieved distinctions as a writer, journalist and educator.”

The program opened with greetings by the following persons: Mr. Timoleon Kokkinos, Master of Ceremonies; Dr. Aristotle Michopoulos; President Demosthenes Triantafillou; Dr. Thalia Chadzigiannoglou, Education Counselor of the Greek Consulate of New York; Mrs. Maria Makedon, Director of Direct Archdiocesan District Office of Education; HNA Publisher Paul Kotrotsios, Queens Gazette Publisher Tony Barsamian; President Vasiliki Filiotis of Hellenic Paideia of America who represented ‎Stella Kokolis, President of the Federation of Greek American Educators, Mrs. Elaine Xiaojiang Fan, Queens Borough Director of the City of New York Comptroller’s Office and Mrs. Irene Cheung, President of the Key Luck Club of Bayside.

Master of Ceremonies Timoleon Kokkinos, a popular Astoria educator and former principal, Educator Maria Marketos of Astoria (left to right) and Dr. Despina Siolas, thanked all for coming. Dr. Aristotle Michopoulos, Professor and Director of Greek Studies at Hellenic College, encouraged all to join the Prometheus Greek Teachers Fund. Dr. Thalia Chadzigiannoglou, Education Counselor of the Greek Consulate of New York expressed “sincere appreciation for Prof. Tsounis’ dedication to Greek education. I invite all to aid Greek education.” Dr. Chadzigiannoglou initiated the first formal pedagogical programs which she taught free of charge to hundreds of Greek teachers in New York City, Long Island and New Jersey. Mrs. Maria Makedon, Director of Direct Archdiocesan District Office of Education, thanked the honoree for her dedication to Hellenism and the Greek Orthodox church. Mrs. Makedon with her Director the late Emmanuel Hatziemmanuel licensed Catherine Tsounis with a Greek Teachers license in 1975, aiding her in administering the first Greek regent exam in eastern Long Island.

Queens Gazette Publisher Tony Barsamian said “It is a privilege and a honor to be in a room with so many dignitaries and beautiful people from so many parts of Queens and New York and so many different things we do. We are here today to honor Cathy. I have published hundreds and hundreds of her articles in the Queens Gazette, weekend and week out. I can say Cathy is the closest thing to a work of art. She is always looked at, examined, sometimes controversial. Sometimes!  But always gets your attention. She connects to people, that is the success story behind her writing. It has been a wonderful experience to work with her. Her writing as myriad and as varied as going across countries, continents, oceans, seas, worlds, restaurants, churches, everything and anything. She has always been giving everything she has ever written her best, because she is the best. Thank you for being with us all these years.”

President Vasiliki Filiotis of Hellenic Paideia of America who represented ‎Stella Kokolis, President of the Federation of Greek American Educators congratulated the honoree for her unselfish donation of all Greek language and Greek culture projects. . Dr. John and Emily Antonopoulos, said “Catherine Tsounis is worthy of the honor she is receiving today. Her contribution to various community issues, especially in regard to education topics, is exceptional. She works without expecting personal gain, showing her unselfish character. We wish Ms. Tunis continuous success in her community service and journalism.”

“We did this for Prof. Tsounis-Siolas and through her to all the Greek Teachers. It does take a team and collective effort to succeed,” said Mr. Paul Kotrotsios, Founder & President
of The Hellenic News of America and Immediate Past President of the Hellenic American National Council. The meeting-Luncheon-Presentation was superb! Kudos to Katerina Tsounis-Siolas. She deserves the best, because she is the best! Thank you, President Demosthenes Triantafillou of the Greek Teachers Association ‘Prometheus’ for taking and materializing my initiative: to do something for the Greek teachers and honor Prof. Tsounis-Siolas. Dr. Panayiotis Baltatzis, the Secretary General of the Hellenic American National Council attended the event.

Mr. Kotrotsios said “The Hellenic News of America Awards Committee (HNA) and Hellenic American National Council (HANC) honors Prof. Catherine Tsounis, Journalist/Writer/Educator of the Greek language and culture for documenting the history of the Greek Diaspora in America. Thank you for all you do for the younger generations, the future of America. She is awarded ‘The Educator of the Year Award’ that will be presented on November 12, 2017 at the 30th Anniversary of the Hellenic News of America at the Merion in Cinnaminson, New Jersey and the September 24th Prometheus Luncheon at the Anagenesis Epirus Cultural Museum, Astoria, N.Y. by myself and Secretary General Dr. Panayiotis Baltatzis who represent HANC, Drs. Spiros and Emily Spireas Chairpersons of Sigmapharm Laboratories and HANC President Bill Mataragas.  All interested in attending the 30th Anniversary of the Hellenic News of America can email https://hellenicnews.com/events/30-years-anniversary/#tickets.

Publisher Paul Kotrotsios accomplished a remarkable fundraising effort for the event. Prometheus President Prof. Demosthenes Triantafillou spent five months and sleepless nights to produce a flawless testimonial event. The September 24th, 2017 Testimonial for Catherine Tsounis Siolas and the Fortieth Anniversary Luncheon held on February 28th, 2016 at Terrace on the Park, are the highlights of Prof. Triantafillou’s legacy as President of the Greek Teacher’s Association Prometheus. He mobilized community leaders, educators and parents from Astoria, New York and New Jersey to attend in a packed hall. Comments from the audience were: “what an incredible event!”; “over fifteen awards given” and “you could have heard a pin drop through the entire event.” Prof. Alexander Colombos, Secretary General and Technology Director and the Board of the Greek Teachers Association ‘Prometheus’ said “You inspired us all Prof. Tsounis!  You deserved that event and we were all united to make sure we don’t let you down. Physical therapist Kosta Koutsoubis said we thank Prof Tsounis “for her superior efforts. She provides a pillar of strength towards the Hellenic language, encouraging Hellenic history. She is catapulting our youth into a Brighter future.” Both Prof. Colombos and PT Koutsoubis are from villages in Chios that faces the honoree’s lost homeland of Tseme, Asia Minor. For more online information on Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus”,visit http://www.greekteachersprometheus.org/.

The Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” Board and members include: Very Rev. Demetrios Louras, St. Demetrios Cathedral, Astoria, Prayer; Executive Board, Demosthenes Triantafillou, President, Apostolos Fountas, Vice President, Alexandros Colombos, Secretary General & Director of Technology, Dr. John G. Siolas, treasurer; Board members, George Kanellopoulos, Timoleon Kokkinos, Sofia Kostaras, Meropi Kyriacou and George Melikokis; Alternate members, Cathy Koutsoupaki, Emmanuela Christodoulou, Vaia Tjionas; Advisory Board, Maria Makedon, Dr. John Antonopoulos; Auditing Committee, Spyros Koutsoupakis, Georgia Papadopoulou and Parent Liaison, PT Kosta Koutsoubis.

      

Awards

http://www.greeknewsonline.com/ekdilosi-tou-syllogou-ellinon-ekpedeftikon-promithef

Queens Gazette Honors Educator’s Testimonial

http://www.qgazette.com/news/2017-10-04/Features/Loyalty_and_Friendship_Expressed_at_September_24th.html

2017-10-04 / Features

Prof Catherine Tsounis presented With the Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” award by the Board. Prof Catherine Tsounis presented With the Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” award by the Board.One hundred and fifty persons packed the Heritage Museum of Epirus at 25-14 Broadway, New York on Sunday September 24th to show loyalty and respect for the Greek language, culture and Greek Orthodox faith in the United States of America. The Hellenic News of America, Hellenic American National Council, Prometheus Greek Teachers Association, The Heritage Museum of Epirus and Hellenic Paideia Association of America will sponsor a Greek Heritage Education Luncheon honored Catherine Tsounis, Journalist/Writer/Educator of the Greek Language and Culture. Soprano Olga Xanthopoulos, internationally famous soprano, sang Tzivaeri, to honor Ms. Tsounis Asia Minor roots. Pianist/violinist/guitarist Erasmia Voulelatos added popular Greek melodies.

A power point presentation was presented by Prof. Tsounis describing her roots, highlights Honoree showing her Powerpoint presentation. Honoree showing her Powerpoint presentation.of her 53-year career in Journalism from a High School sophomore, Real Estate Broker at Andrew Stype Real Estate in Mattituck, NY, and appreciation to sponsors and their staffs. The theme was “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others’ by Pericles. “I was deeply touched by the round of applause for my immigrant grandfather, Vlassios Tsounis, who served in the U.S. army in 1914,” said Prof. Tsounis. “He was a decorated purple heart veteran with the equivalent of the silver star. My father, George Tsounis was a second-generation purple heart recipient and a WWII prisoner of war for one year in East Germany. I was taught ‘my country right or wrong”. Because 75% of my family were refugees from the shores of Asia Minor, losing their lives because they remained Greek and Greek Orthodox, I felt I had a moral duty to perpetuate the Greek language, culture and Orthodox religion. My slide program showed my commitment to Hellenism since I was a teenager during the Vietnam War.” The September 24, 2017 PowerPoint Presentation by Catherine Tsounis was assisted by: Jerry Matovcik, under Director Jeff Walden of Mattituck Library, N.Y.; edited by Despina Siolas, MD/Ph.D.; program direction: Thanasis Tsuvelis, Michael Giakumelos MGTV USA and Prof. Alexander Colombos, Technology Director and Secretary of the Board of the Greek Teachers Association Prometheus.

Powerpoint slide OFF THE BEATEN TRAIL: THE ASSUMPTION AND ANNUNCIATION CATHEDRALS OF MOSCOW'S KREMLIN, reprinted in Pravoslavie.ru and circulating 60 million Russian Orthodox Christians.Powerpoint slide OFF THE BEATEN TRAIL: THE ASSUMPTION AND ANNUNCIATION CATHEDRALS OF MOSCOW’S KREMLIN, reprinted in Pravoslavie.ru and circulating 60 million Russian Orthodox Christians.A lavish luncheon, complements of the Sponsors, was served by the Greek Teachers Association Prometheus Board and members. Mrs. Chrisoula Zicopoulos, Director of the Heritage Museum of Epirus, Eva Kantlis, Vice-President, Society Epirotans “Anagenesis” and Panagiotis Vlassis helped in preparing the hall. All were invited to visit the Heritage Museum of Epirus. Irene Cheung, Founder and President of the Key Luck Club, has been assisting the societies with community support in Queens. A Prometheus Greek Teachers Fund was launched. Dr. Aristotle Michopoulos, Professor and Director of Greek Studies at Hellenic College, donated $10,000 along with other donors. For a complete list of donors and information, email dtrianta@aol.com.

Packed hall.  Packed hall.The following Awards were given from The Hellenic News of America, Hellenic American National Council, Mid Atlantic Greek-American Foundation for Sergiani for Epirus, Prometheus Greek Teachers Association, Hellenic Paideia Association of America, and Federation of Hellenic American Teachers. Mrs. Elaine Xiaojiang Fan, Queens Borough Director of the City of New York Comptroller’s Office of Scott M. Stringer presented a 20 inch framed Commendation “for her many years of exceptional journalism, reporting on issues that matter to New York City’s Greek American community; for her commitment to preserving and promoting Greece’s rich history and vibrant culture; for her outstanding service as an educator at St. John’s University; for sharing the diversity that Greek Americans bring to our City’s  cultural landscape with readers; for honoring Greece’s extraordinary contributions to the world; gaining the respect, appreciation and gratitude of all she has worked with; and for her tremendous contributions to the City of New York. Scott M. Stringer, Comptroller, September 24, 2017.”

Mrs. Irene Cheung, President of the Key Luck Club of Bayside, New York said “Catherine Dr.  Dr. Thalia Chadzigiannoglou, Education Counselor of the Greek Consulate of New York (left to right), Mrs. Maria Makedon, Director of Direct Archdiocesan District Office of Education; President Irene Cheung of the Key Luck Club, Mrs. Elain Xiaojiang Fan, Queens Borough Director of the City of New York Comptroller's Office and honoree Prof Catherine Tsounis.Dr. Dr. Thalia Chadzigiannoglou, Education Counselor of the Greek Consulate of New York (left to right), Mrs. Maria Makedon, Director of Direct Archdiocesan District Office of Education; President Irene Cheung of the Key Luck Club, Mrs. Elain Xiaojiang Fan, Queens Borough Director of the City of New York Comptroller’s Office and honoree Prof Catherine Tsounis.Tsounis is a part of our community. I present this Merit Citation on behalf of Barry S. Grodenchik of the City Council.” The following citations were given from: Nicole Malliotakis, NYS Assembly; Aravella Simotas, NYS Assembly; Edward C. Braunstein, NYS Assembly; Paul Valone, NY City Council; Costa Constantinides, NY City Council and Michael N. Gianaris, NYS Senate District. B’NAI B’RITH INTERNATIONAL President Prof. Asher J. Matathias presented  “the happy augury that is the Greek Heritage Luncheon honoring Prof. Catherine Tsounis Siolas who has achieved distinctions as a writer, journalist and educator.”

The program opened with greetings by the following persons: Mr. Timoleon Kokkinos, Master of Ceremonies; Dr. Aristotle Michopoulos; President Demosthenes Triantafillou; Dr. Thalia Chadzigiannoglou, Education Counselor of the Greek Consulate of New York; Mrs. Maria Makedon, Director of Direct Archdiocesan District Office of Education; HNA Publisher Paul Kotrotsios, Queens Gazette Publisher Tony Barsamian; President Vasiliki Filiotis of Hellenic Paideia of America who represented ‎Stella Kokolis, President of the Federation of Greek American Educators, Mrs. Elaine Xiaojiang Fan, Queens Borough Director of the City of New York Comptroller’s Office and Mrs. Irene Cheung, President of the Key Luck Club of Bayside.

Master of Ceremonies Timoleon Kokkinos, a popular Astoria educator and former principal, Educator Maria Marketos of Astoria (left to right) and Dr. Despina Siolas. Educator Anna Marketos of Astoria (left to right) and Dr. Despina Siolas.thanked all for coming. Dr. Aristotle Michopoulos, Professor and Director of Greek Studies at Hellenic College, encouraged all to join the Prometheus Greek Teachers Fund. Dr. Thalia Chadzigiannoglou, Education Counselor of the Greek Consulate of New York expressed “sincere appreciation for Prof. Tsounis’ dedication to Greek education. I invite all to aid Greek education.” Dr. Chadzigiannoglou initiated the first formal pedagogical programs which she taught free of charge to hundreds of Greek teachers in New York City, Long Island and New Jersey. Mrs. Maria Makedon, Director of Direct Archdiocesan District Office of Education, thanked the honoree for her dedication to Hellenism and the Greek Orthodox church. Mrs. Makedon with her Director the late Emmanuel Hatziemmanuel licensed Catherine Tsounis with a Greek Teachers license in 1975, aiding her in administering the first Greek regent exam in eastern Long Island.

Principal Mrs. Athena Kromidas of William Spyropoulos School, Principal George Kanelopoulos of Stephn and Arete Cherpelis Greek Afternoon School and friends. Principal Mrs. Athena Kromidas of William Spyropoulos School, Principal George Kanelopoulos of Stephn and Arete Cherpelis Greek Afternoon School and friends.Queens Gazette Publisher Tony Barsamian said “It is a privilege and a honor to be in a room with so many dignitaries and beautiful people from so many parts of Queens and New York and so many different things we do. We are here today to honor Cathy. I have published hundreds and hundreds of her articles in the Queens Gazette, weekend and week out. I can say Cathy is the closest thing to a work of art. She is always looked at, examined, sometimes controversial. Sometimes!  But always gets your attention. She connects to people, that is the success story behind her writing. It has been a wonderful experience to work with her. Her writing as myriad and as varied as going across countries, continents, oceans, seas, worlds, restaurants, churches, everything and anything. She has always been giving everything she has ever written her best, because she is the best. Thank you for being with us all these years.”

Physical Therapist Kosta Koutsoubis (2nd from left) and members of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Flushing. All photos are by Despina Siolas, MD./Ph.D. PHOTOS BY DESPINA SIOLAS Md/Ph.DPhysical Therapist Kosta Koutsoubis (2nd from left) and members of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Flushing. All photos are by Despina Siolas, MD./Ph.D.PHOTOS BY DESPINA SIOLAS Md/Ph.DPresident Vasiliki Filiotis of Hellenic Paideia of America who represented ‎Stella Kokolis, President of the Federation of Greek American Educators congratulated the honoree for her unselfish donation of all Greek language and Greek culture projects. . Dr. John and Emily Antonopoulos, said “Catherine Tsounis is worthy of the honor she is receiving today. Her contribution to various community issues, especially in regard to education topics, is exceptional. She works without expecting personal gain, showing her unselfish character. We wish Ms. Tunis continuous success in her community service and journalism.”
“We did this for Prof. Tsounis-Siolas and through her to all the Greek Teachers. It does take a team and collective effort to succeed,” said Mr. Paul Kotrotsios, Founder & President
of The Hellenic News of America and Immediate Past President of the Hellenic American National Council. The meeting-Luncheon-Presentation was superb! Kudos to Katerina Tsounis-Siolas. She deserves the best, because she is the best! Thank you, President Demosthenes Triantafillou of the Greek Teachers Association ‘Prometheus’ for taking and materializing my initiative: to do something for the Greek teachers and honor Prof. Tsounis-Siolas. Dr. Panayiotis Baltatzis, the Secretary General of the Hellenic American National Council attended the event.

Mr. Kotrotsios said “The Hellenic News of America Awards Committee (HNA) and Hellenic American National Council (HANC) honors Prof. Catherine Tsounis, Journalist/Writer/Educator of the Greek language and culture for documenting the history of the Greek Diaspora in America. Thank you for all you do for the younger generations, the future of America. She is awarded ‘The Educator of the Year Award’ that will be presented on November 12, 2017 at the 30th Anniversary of the Hellenic News of America at the Merion in Cinnaminson, New Jersey and the September 24th Prometheus Luncheon at the Anagenesis Epirus Cultural Museum, Astoria, N.Y. by myself and Secretary General Dr. Panayiotis Baltatzis who represent Drs. Spiros and Emily Spireas Chairpersons of Sigmapharm Laboratories and HANC President Bill Mataragas.  All interested in attending the 30th Anniversary of the Hellenic News of America and buy a journal page, can email https://hellenicnews.com/events/30-years-anniversary/#tickets.

Publisher Paul Kotrotsios accomplished a remarkable fundraising effort for the event. Prometheus President Prof. Demosthenes Triantafillou spent five months and sleepless nights to produce a flawless testimonial event. The September 24th, 2017 Testimonial for Catherine Tsounis Siolas and the Fortieth Anniversary Luncheon held on February 28th, 2016 at Terrace on the Park, are the highlights of Prof. Triantafillou’s legacy as President of the Greek Teacher’s Association Prometheus. He mobilized community leaders, educators and parents from Astoria, New York and New Jersey to attend in a packed hall. Comments from the audience were: “what an incredible event!”; “over fifteen awards given” and “you could have heard a pin drop through the entire event.” Prof. Alexander Colombos, Secretary General and Technology Director and the Board of the Greek Teachers Association ‘Prometheus’ said “You inspired us all Prof. Tsounis!  You deserved that event and we were all united to make sure we don’t let you down. Physical therapist Kosta Koutsoubis said we thank Prof Tsounis “for her superior efforts. She provides a pillar of strength towards the Hellenic language, encouraging Hellenic history. She is catapulting our youth into a Brighter future.” Both Prof. Colombos and PT Koutsoubis are from villages in Chios that faces the honoree’s lost homeland of Tseme, Asia Minor. For more online information on Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus”,visit http://www.greekteachersprometheus.org/.
The Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” Board and members include: Very Rev. Demetrios Louras, St. Demetrios Cathedral, Astoria, Prayer; Executive Board, Demosthenes Triantafillou, President, Apostolos Fountas, Vice President, Alexandros Colombos, Secretary General & Director of Technology, Dr. John G. Siolas, treasurer; Board members, George Kanellopoulos, Timoleon Kokkinos, Sofia Kostaras, Meropi Kyriacou and George Melikokis; Alternate members, Cathy Koutsoupaki, Emmanuela Christodoulou, Vaia Tjionas; Advisory Board, Maria Makedon, Dr. John Antonopoulos; Auditing Committee, Spyros Koutsoupakis, Georgia Papadopoulou and Parent Liaison, PT Kosta Koutsoubis.

Facebook links:
https://m.facebook.com/despina.siolas/videos/10102845888403784/
https://m.facebook.com/despina.siolas/videos/10102845894616334/
https://m.facebook.com/despina.siolas/videos/10102845892485604/
https://m.facebook.com/catherine.tsounis/videos/1451605368259216/
https://m.facebook.com/catherine.tsounis/videos/1451583131594773/
https://m.facebook.com/catherine.tsounis/videos/1451581188261634/
https://m.facebook.com/catherine.tsounis/videos/1451569228262830/
https://m.facebook.com/catherine.tsounis/videos/1451542004932219/
https://m.facebook.com/HellenicNews/videos/1363398323770488/      barsamian
https://m.facebook.com/catherine.tsounis?sk=approve&highlight=1015591968…
Internet links:
https://youtu.be/24TF2XwUTYY?t=24- e.kirikas
https://www.ekirikas.com/%CE%B9%CE%B4%CF%81%CF%85%CF%83%CE%B7-%CF%84%CE%…

Lifetime of Journalism and Education

http://www.qgazette.com/news/2017-10-04/Features/Prof_Catherine_Tsounis_Honored_For_Lifetime_Of_Wor.html?print=1

2017-10-04 / Features

Prof. Catherine Tsounis Honored For Lifetime Of Work

 Prof Catherine Tsounis presented With the Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” award by the Board.  Photo Despina Siolas, MD./Ph.D. Prof Catherine Tsounis presented With the Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” award by the Board. Photo Despina Siolas, MD./Ph.D.One hundred and fifty persons packed the Heritage Museum of Epirus at 25-14 Broadway in Manhattan on September 24 in a show of loyalty and respect for the Greek language culture and the Greek Orthodox faith in America by honoring Dr. Catherine Tsounis for her lifetime of work.

Journalist, writer and educator of the Greek culture and language, Prof. Tsounis gave a power point presentation describing her roots, highlights of her 53-year career in journalism from a high school sophomore to real estate broker at Andrew Stype Real Estate in Mattituck.

Queens Borough Director of the City of New York Comptroller’s Office of Scott M. Stringer presented a 20-inch framed Commendation “for her many years of exceptional journalism, reporting on issues that matter to New York City’s Greek American community; for her commitment to preserving and promoting Greece’s rich history and vibrant culture; for her outstanding service as an educator at St. John’s University; for sharing the diversity that Greek Americans bring to our city’s cultural landscape with readers; for honoring Greece’s extraordinary contributions to the world; gaining the respect, appreciation and gratitude of all she has worked with; and for her tremendous contributions to the City of New York. —Scott M. Stringer, Comptroller, September 24, 2017.”

Gazette Publisher Tony Barsamian said, “It is a privilege and an honor to be in a room with so many dignitaries and beautiful people from so many parts of Queens and New York, and so many different events that we are involved with. We are here today to honor Cathy. I have published hundreds and hundreds of her articles in the Queens Gazette, week in and week out. I can say Cathy’s writing is the closest thing to a work of art. It is always looked at, examined – sometimes controversial. Sometimes! But she always gets your attention. She connects to people, that is the success story behind her writing. It has been a wonderful experience to work with her. Her writing is myriad, and as varied as going across countries, continents, oceans, seas, worlds, restaurants, churches, everything and anything. She has always given everything she has ever written her best, because she is the best. Thank you for being with us all these years.”

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Photo Despina Siolas, MD./Ph.D.

Prof Catherine Tsounis presented With the Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” award by the Board. 21p1.jpg

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Dr. Dr. Thalia Chadzigiannoglou, Education Counselor of the Greek Consulate of New York (left to right), Mrs. Maria Makedon, Director of Direct Archdiocesan District Office of Education; President Irene Cheung of the Key Luck Club, Mrs. Elain Xiaojiang Fan, Queens Borough Director of the City of New York Comptroller’s Office and honoree Prof Catherine Tsounis.photo5.JPG

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On the Road in Greece: Seeing the Aktiou Tunnel and Pindos Mountains of Epirus

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Pindus mountains

 

“We will pass through the undersea tunnel of Aktiou,” explained Kostoula Kapogiannis, our tour guide on our three-day excursion was of Lefkada, Epirus and Central Greece with Kapogiannis Tours of Tripoli for 160 euros. “This is the road through Preveza to Metsovo. We will pass through scenic mountain mini-cities full of atmosphere and traditional character. It is famous for its local products and the “Land of the National Benefactors.”

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The undersea tunnel of Aktiou.

The undersea tunnel of Preveza open our eyes to the modern Greece that links geographical areas. “The undersea tunnel of Preveza – Aktio connects the strait that separates mainland Greece from Epirus in the Ambracian Gulf. The construction of the project begun in the mid-1990s and was completed in 2002. Its cost was EUR 58,904,232.13 and is considered one of the most expensive public works in Greece, after the Egnatia Odos, Attiki Odos and the suspending bridge of Rio. The distance of the port of Aktio from the old ferry boat port of Preveza is 725 meters while at the narrowest point, the Cape Akritas (where the lighthouse and canon emplacement of 1897 are standing) up to the new breakwater of Preveza is only 600 meters. This strait from ancient times up to 2002 was connected only by ferry boat with frequent problems due to rough seas, lack of night routs and long waiting hours during summer. All these now belong to the past.”1

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We passed a truck with oversize watermelons, honeydews and potatoes.

On the road to Preveza, we saw modern two-story homes in the traditional architecture of Epirus, forested with oak, fir, beech, and pine. Graffiti was absent. We passed a truck with oversize watermelons, honeydews and potatoes. The area is composed of cultivated farmland. I now understand why Albania wants to acquire Epirus. Elpida Litos, a senior citizen from Greek Northern Epirus (in Albania) said “The Pindus mountains are the site of Greek blood.” She was referring to WWII and the Greek civil war.

We passed through the Pindus Mountains for two days, seeing Ioannina, Metzovo and the Zagorian villages, including the Vikos Gorge. The range encompasses two national parks, the second largest gorge in Europe and some of the  highest mountain peaks in the country. “The Pindus mountain range is located in northern Greece and southern Albania. It is roughly 160 km long, with a maximum elevation of 2,637 m (Mount Smolikas). Because it runs along the border of Thessaly and Epirus, the Pindus range is often called the “spine of Greece”. The mountain range stretches from near the Greek-Albanian borders in Northern Epirus, entering the Epirus region and Macedonia region in northern Greece down to the north of the Peloponnese. Geologically it constitutes an extension of the Dinaric Alps, which dominate the western region of the Balkan Peninsula. This vast complex of mountains, peaks, plateaus, valleys and gorges traverses the Greek mainland from the Northwest to the Southeast. Its length reaches almost 230 kilometers and its largest width is 70 kilometers.”2

We saw the Vikos Gorge at the Zagorian village of Monodendri. “The Vikos gorge is a 20km long gorge between the villages of Monodendri and Vikos, and is in the Guinness book of records as the deepest gorge in the world (calculated from width: depth ratio). The average depth of the gorge is 700 meters, but its highest point is 1,600 meters, the width varies from 450 to just a few meters. The Vikos Gorge makes up the majority of the Vikos-Aoos National Park and has the Voidomatis river running through it, which is also the cleanest river in Europe. The gorge is very important to scientists as it has some unique eco-systems and endangered wildlife and plants. The gorge is popular during the summer months for hiking, the full distance of the gorge doesn’t have to be walked, you can enter and leave the gorge at different points along the way.”3

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Pindus mountains.

One group member said, “we almost went into Albania.” I was told that Greeks do not like to travel to Albania. Seeing these mountains gave me an understanding into the heroism of the villagers who fought Italy, Germany and suffered the worse with the guerillas in the Greek civil war.

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Vikos Gorge.

The Hellenic News of America, Hellenic American National Council, Prometheus Greek Teachers Association, The Heritage Museum of Epirus and Hellenic Paideia Association of America will sponsor a Greek Heritage Education Luncheon honoring Catherine Tsounis, Journalist/Writer/Educator of the Greek Language and Culture. The event will be held on Sunday, September 24th, 2017, 3:30 p.m. at the Heritage Museum of Epirus, 2514 Broadway, 3rd floor, Astoria, NY. The Luncheon is free, complements of the sponsoring Organizations. Registration in the Prometheus Greek Teachers Pension Plan will take place. All are invited to visit the Heritage Museum of Epirus. Please RSVP Prometheus Greek Teachers Association President Demosthenes Triantafillou at 551-574-2781 or email Dtrianta@aol.com and John Siolas 718 631-7237 or jsiolas@hotmail.com.

 

 

References:

  1. http://www.aktiotunnel.gr/en/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pindus
  3. http://www.athens-greece-guide.com/zagoria.htm

 

Photos:

Photo1-The undersea tunnel of Aktiou.

Photo2 – We passed a truck with oversize watermelons, honeydews and potatoes.

Photo 3 – Pindus mountains.

Photo4 – Pindus mountains.

Photo5 – Vikos Gorge.

Photo 6 – Vikos Gorge

Photo 7 – Vikos Gorge

Greekreporter.com: A Conversation with Catherine Tsounis On September 24th Awards Luncheon

Reprint from Greekreporter.com article by Christina Flora

A Conversation with Catherine Tsounis On September 24th Awards Luncheon

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Sponsors Hellenic News of America and The Heritage Museum of Epirus Sergiani social in Astoria at the Cefalos Society Hall.

The Hellenic News of America, Hellenic American National Council, Prometheus Greek Teachers Association, The Heritage Museum of Epirus and Hellenic Paideia Association of America will sponsor a Greek Heritage Education Luncheon honoring Catherine Tsounis, Journalist/Writer/Educator of the Greek Language and Culture. The event will be held on Sunday, September 24th, 2017, 3:30 p.m. at the Heritage Museum of Epirus, 2514 Broadway, 3rd floor, Astoria, NY. The Luncheon is free, complements of the sponsoring Organizations. Registration in the Prometheus Greek Teachers Pension Plan will take place. All are invited to visit the Heritage Museum of Epirus. Please RSVP Prometheus Greek Teachers Association President Demosthenes Triantafillou at 551-574-2781 or email Dtrianta@aol.com and John Siolas 718 631-7237 or jsiolas@hotmail.com.

Prof. Demosthenes Triantafillou, President of the Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” wrote that “on September 24th, the Greek American Community will pay tribute to one of our distinguished Greek American writers: writer, journalist and educator Catherine Tsounis-Siolas, for her contributions to the promotion and perpetuation of the Greek American Heritage! The event is unprecedented in its meaning, expression of recognition and appreciation of Catherine’s commitment.

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She has been a classical pillar that has done exemplary academic work to highlight the Greek American experience in her wonderful books. Her books are treasured in libraries and many Greek American households. She has been a beacon of inspiration to all of us! The Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” is proud to cosponsor this honorary luncheon and invites all Greek Americans to participate in this unique event and share the pride and joy with all of us!”

The Hellenic News of America had a conversation with Prof. Tsounis of her career. “I am totally surprised by this exceptional honor,” she said. “I am really humble and prefer not to be seen. Mr. Paul Kotrotsios, Publisher of the Hellenic News of America, conceived of this award. He joined forces with Prof. Demosthenes Triantafillou, President and Prof. Alexander Colombo, Secretary General and Technology Director and the Board of  the Greek Teachers Association ‘Prometheus’, Bill Mataragas, President, Hellenic American National Council Board (HANC), Director Chrisoula Zicopoulos of The Heritage Museum of Epirus and President Vasiliki Filiotis of the Hellenic Paideia Association of America. Irene Cheung, Founder and President of the Key Luck Club, has been assisting the societies with community support in Queens, New York. I am very appreciative of their efforts.”

She continued saying “I prefer working in the shadows, in journalism, Greek education and as an Associate Broker at Andrew Stype Real Estate Inc.in Mattituck, NY. I feel I have an obligation to pass on the legacy of the Greek language, culture and Greek Orthodox faith to the next generation. I want to perpetuate the work of my generation.  We must inspire our children and their network to be proud that they have Greek roots. Isocrates first defined a Hellene as ‘He who partakes in the Hellenic Paedeia (education) is a Hellene.’ This statement made 2,500 years ago, describes our life in America today.

The writer described her family background. “My parents, George Tsounis and Mother, Cleopatra Athena Pappas (Papatonakis) were born in the United States in 1922 and 1923. Their parents were from 1900’s Limnos, Chios when it was part of the Ottoman Empire and Western Anatolia refugees from Tseme and Katopanagia in the State of Izmir. I was mesmerized by my vivacious grandmother, a brunette with olive complexion and blue eyes as light as the Aegean Sea. She was an independent, businesswoman, with cosmopolitan clothes. She played rebetika, told fortunes by reading cards and from Greek coffee. Speaking Greek at home with Yiayia Despina changed my life. I felt comfort being around Greek speaking persons because of her. My Mother’s Father, Christo Pappas (Papatonakis), became an American citizen in 1912 by passing the U.S. citizenship exam. Nuns and priests were in my Mother’s family.  My Mother, Cleo, helped to establish St. Demetrios Greek American Parochial School of Astoria in 1957, and the Transfiguration of Christ Greek Orthodox Church, in Mattituck, New York.”

She stated that she “came from a home that believed ‘America is the only hope for us. This is our country, right or wrong.’ We were taught an intense loyalty of the same type to the Greek Orthodox Church of America. I have incorporated these themes in my writings. I grew up in Astoria on 37 St. with family. My Dad’s godparents, Nicholas and Catherine Christofis, our koumbaroi from Panagia, Limnos and their children, Mary Christopher Rallis, a retired NYC school system professional, my godfather Chris Christopher, a WWII veteran and the first United Nations cartographer and godmother Aspasia Christopher, the first NYC Greek-Bilingual guidance counselor lived a few houses away. Their daughter, Diane Christopher and her family have continued the friendship from 1900’s Limnos till today. Greek ties are held from generation to generation.

My education was at St. Demetrios of Parochial School, and Bryant High School in Astoria, New York. I acquired a Bachelor of Arts degree from Queens College. I hold a Master of Arts degree in Byzantine History from the Queens College Graduate School of CUNY.  I am a veteran teacher of the New York City School system, with an emphasis on Bilingual-Greek language studies. From 1975-1977, I began teaching Greek Afternoon School at the Transfiguration of Christ Greek Orthodox Church in Mattituck, New York.”

She explained that “Teaching Greek in Mattituck led me to secure a Greek Teacher’s License from the Archdiocese of North and South America and a Bilingual Greek ancillary license from the City of New York. It led to a career as a Greek translator and later as an adjunct instructor of Modern Greek in St. John’s University for thirteen years. Communicating in Greek helped me sell and invest in Mattituck real estate. Through the help of Val, Andrew and Erica Stype of Andrew Stype Real-estate, I have been an associate broker from the mid 1980’s.”

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Sponsor Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” 40th Anniversary, March 7, 2016 at Terrace on the Park with the Hellenic Paideia of America Organization.

Ms. Tsounis explained she “is a photo/journalist on the national and international scene from 1974, in the internet, magazine and newspaper mediums. I began my journalism career in Mattituck. My parents and their Cypriot immigrant friends from Kyrenia and Asgata encouraged me to write articles about their church building efforts. My first break was with the Long Island Traveler Watchman, then Suffolk Times and Suffolk Life in 1964. They published everything I wrote from the age of 16 years old, as a High School sophomore. This inspired me to continue writing and build a career in Greek-American newspapers. Today, I work closely with Publisher Paul Kotrotsios and Co-Publisher Ms. Aphrodite Kotrotsios of the Hellenic News of America. Mr. Apostolos Zoupaniotis, publisher of the Greek News of America, helped me acquire a NYPD press card. I collaborate to create articles with his partner, Mr. Dimitrios S. Panagos. Mr. Tony Barsamian, publisher of the Queens Gazette, says ‘I publish all your articles’ including pieces on modern and Byzatine publishes my articles, that included my discovery of Byzantine Russia. My publishers and newspapers: Anastasios Papapostolou, Editor of the GreekReporter.com; Mary and Christos Papoutsy of Hellenic Communication Service; Margo Castigates and Jimmy Kapsalis of the Hellenic Times; Hellenic Voice; Hellenic Chronicle; Proini; Orthodox Observer; Tribune; Courier; Bayside Times; Queens Chronicle; St. Nicholas Church of Flushing Argus and other publications.”

She described her university career “as an adjunct instructor of the Modern Greek Language and Literature at St. John’s University, Queens, New York from 1997-2010. We created: scholarship program through donations from Greek organizations and private donors; a lecture series, Greek culture evenings and a Modern Greek Honor Society through the assistance of the Arcadian Association of America ‘Geros tou Morea’. Dr. John Spiridakis and Dr. John G. Siolas were inspiring with Dr. Gaetano Cipolla and Dean Salvatore Spizziri. I was inducted into “Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers,” in 2002 and 2005. Another honor was the granting as the first third generation Greek-American to be awarded the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, USA scholarship in category B in 2002-2003 for advanced teacher training. In 2005, the New York City Council Proclamation awarded me a proclamation in commemoration of the 184th Anniversary of Greek Independence for my contribution to New York City and the Greek-American community.

On April 24, 2010 at the 19th Hermes International Expo in Atlantic City, as a member of the Federation of Hellenic Teachers in the USA and the Greek Teacher Association Prometheus, I was honored for keeping Hellenism alive in the United States. I would like to thank Mrs. Stella Kokolis, President of the Federation of Hellenic American Teachers for her continuous support since the 1980’s. A citation was given by New York City Councilman Paul Vallone of the 19th District for my book Through My Eyes: St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church Flushing, New York 1987-2014’ on March 10, 2015.”

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Photo 3 – Sponsor Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” 40th Anniversary, March 7, 2016 at Terrace on the Park with the Hellenic Paideia of America Organization.

She described the goal of her books. “‘The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life,’ says Plato in the Republic. Our books, co-authored with Dr. John G. Siolas, attempted to give a glimpse into Hellenism that is the root of western civilization. Our books include: Through My Eyes: St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, Flushing, New York 1987-2014; Greek-American Experience; Greek-American Experience II; Greek-American Experience III; Greek American Experience IV; Greek-American Anthology 2005-06; 2005;Anthology of  Greek-America; Greek-American Anthology 2005;  Transfiguration of Christ Church Mattituck, 1978-2005; Through My Eyes: The Hellenic-American Taxpayers & Civic Association of Southold Township, 1977-2016 and Transfiguration of Christ Church, Mattituck, New York, 1969-2013. I deeply appreciate the technical assistance rendered by the Mattituck Free library under Director Jeff Walden and staff Jerry, Lynn, John, Linda, Shauna, Diana, Debbie, Katie and Lynnis.

I will like to conclude by saying I am what I am because of one person: Dr. John G. Siolas. His inspiration created my careers. Dr. Despina Siolas, my daughter advises and directs my journalism pursuits, especially on my blog Greek American Experience.wordpress.com and Facebook. My son-in-law, Laurentino Ibarra is the reason we are travelling to Arcadia, Greece. ‘Go and preserve your real estate in Arcadia so my family has Greek roots,’ he said. Finally, my accomplishments are the result of the Greek-American community who have unanimously supported me. Their names are too numerous to list. You are all appreciated. I have attempted to follow Pericles quote that “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”

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