Tuesday, May 27, 2014

20 Question Time... Global Greek Style: Conversation with Dena Kouremetis - Writer, Columnist and Very Proud Mum!

Her Hellenism made her feel unique 
and Brand Strategist Peter Economides would be her nomination for a Nobel Prize
20 Question Time... Global Greek Style
with the talented

Dena Kouremetis
 Global Greek writer and Forbes Columnist who took a break from her writing
to hold this conversation with us...

Hellenism is…

The idea of being Greek and what that meant to me was established through my Greek-American parents.It told us we were special, we were unique and we had a pedigree unlike anyone else on earth – something to be cherished and perpetuated despite the fact that we lived in the U.S. 

During my most formative years, I did not live in a place where there were many other hyphenated Greeks. My parents were not college educated and none of their immigrant parents made it past the 4th grade, so my siblings and I had a very sketchy representation of ancient Greek history. It was not until my father took us to Greece when I was 13 that I began to appreciate the true depth of my heritage. It lives and breathes within me -- part of both the way I think of myself as well as the legacy I leave behind.

Did your Hellenism help get you where you are?

From the standpoint of feeling “different” – yes, it did. 
As a child, one would rather “blend in” and be one of the pack.  But my parents made it clear that we would never be like everyone else BECAUSE we were of Greek descent.So while immigrants in this country may have been considered lowly at a certain point in history, my siblings and I felt elevated in a way that was difficult to describe to others. 

Being Greek: Best Part….

How can you single just one thing out?  
It’s just FUN to be Greek! 
 It’s the food, the holidays, speaking Greek with your mom while trying on clothes and KNOWING the sales lady doesn’t know what you’re saying, the dancing, the jokes, the laughter – and being part of something much bigger than all of it put together. 

Being Greek: Worst part…. 

Trying to watch your weight at Easter time… 

Greeks who inspire(d) you…

Alexander the Great 
and so many others, 
I would take you well beyond your word count for this article… 

Greeks you like…
I can’t answer this question… I admire so many.

Greeks you don’t like…
I am dumbfounded by those who take their proud heritage for granted.

Your favourite Greek word…


Wikipedia defines it this way, Philotimo is almost impossible to translate sufficiently as it describes a complex array of virtues. Philotimo is considered to be the highest of all Greek virtues which determines and regulates how someone should behave in their family and social groups. In its simplest form, it means “doing good”, and it ensures your behavior will make you stand out from others. It will tell others what kind of a person you are and about the way you were raised by your family. Philotimo to a Greek is essentially a way of life. Children are said to have philotimo when they display unconditional love and respect towards their parents, grandparents, friends. It can mean gratitude for a small gift someone might have given you, or a small random act of kindness someone may have shown you. It is an appreciation and admiration for heritage, ancestors, pride. 
All that in one word.
 I ask you: Does any other language have a word that encompasses all that?

Your favourite Greek spot in the world…

While my magical “everything’s-a-photo-op” place on earth is Santorini, my favorite place has to be the balcony of my grandfather’s lofty house at the end of a cobbled goat path in the tiny Pelopponesian village of Isari. Even now I can close my eyes and hear donkey and goat bells, the faint wafting/wailing of bouzoukia and lyra during the “apoyevma” (afternoon siesta time),  the aroma of a well-cooked meal, and a vista of grape vines and olive trees. In this image, I dream of what life must have been like for those who came before me but were determined to make better lives for their families. 

I remember my first trip to Greece, when my father took us to someone’s house in the village our relatives wanted us to meet.  It was an old woman who was very poor. She offered us cold artesian water to drink and mint leaves to breathe in because she had no food to offer.  Hanging prominently on the wall of her sparse one-room house was a huge transistor radio, as if it were a piece of artwork. She explained that her cousin in the U.S. had given it to her so she could listen to music.  She heaved a big sigh and looked out her window to the valley below and said, “I am not poor. I have the mountains, the delicious cold water that comes from the earth, and loving people around me. I am a wealthy woman.”  I have never forgotten the simplicity of this woman’s outlook on life.

Your favourite Greek song…

Believe it or not, “Fengari Mou”
I first heard it on a Nana Mouskouri album in my teens.

Your favourite Greek meal… Who cooked it?

My mom’s oregano/lemon chicken, roasted potatoes, tiropita and pastitsio. Love was the main ingredient.

Your favourite Greek book…

Aesop’s Fables. 
The lessons are timeless.

Your happiest Greek memory….

The college year I spent in Athens at the American college, 
chronicled in my eBook, “Climbing St. Friday”… 
It was a year that changed my life.

Your saddest Greek memory…

Losing an older relative the year I spent in Athens and being too stupid and insensitive to visit him before he passed away.

Global Greeks at the Nobels  - Who would you nominate? Why?

Peter Economides
As the person who helped re-brand Apple computers, this remarkable man is doing everything he possibly can to help the Greeks renew faith in themselves.  He is a brand strategist with a global perspective, working hard to bring Greece into step with the rest of Europe while making sure the things that make Greece unique and special are not lost.

You meet the Prime Minister of Greece on the beach this summer…What would you tell him?

To begin a campaign to educate everyone in government in how to recognize and attack corruption when they see it, and to make Greek government the ideal and leader in a world that so desperately needs a role model.

You are the Prime Minister of Greece… for a week!
What three things would you do first? 
    I am not astute enough about the current situation in Greece to answer this question

    You’re one of our several million Global Greeks who are Greece’s Ambassadors in the World. Public Diplomacy at its best!  Have you done something to help Greece today?

    I wish I were a “mover and shaker” but alas – I am only a writer. I often write about Greece and the experiences I have had as “one of the tribe”… but I suppose my biggest claim to fame is having produced a non-college-educated (by choice) daughter who emulates the ideals of the hard-working immigrant who sees no limits to what he or she can do in life.  

    I come from a long line of business owners and self-determined types. My daughter was never really close to people who earned wages. And while there is certainly no shame in the seeking out the predictability of a paycheck, I think people often let go of their dreams while strapping themselves to having to have what others do in life. They live their entire lives not knowing the thrill of creating something that comes from deep within them.
    Each day is such a gift. 
    Not honoring that gift – to me – is tantamount to a travesty.

    Who would you include in a ‘Global Greeks for Greece’ Dream Team? 

    Peter Economides, 
    Gregory Pappas, 
    Rita Wilson Hanks, 
    Billy Zane, 
    Sid Ganis, 
    Alexander Payne, 
    and many, many others who are in the public eye and make no secret of their roots.

    And now for the best part… 
    Create a picture of YOUR Greece … 
    what would you put in it? 

    Seeing Greece through the simplicity and awe of my first time in the “old country”;  the glowing love of my gracious, generous relatives; the blue, blue sea against whitewashed dwellings; the bray of a donkey, the gravelly voice of a toothless yiayia dressed in black; a Greece that welcomes progressive ideas to get its people working again and capitalizes on its beauty without compromising its pristine appeal. And most of all, the pride Greeks take in just being Greek – no matter what trials and tribulations they have suffered.

    If we’ve missed something you would like to share with us in this 20 Question Global Greek Style interview, 
    please tell us …

    I firmly believe that you don’t have to have Greek blood to be a Hellene. 
    The many gifts Greeks have given to the world – mathematics, architecture, philosophy, philotimo, poetry, athletics, science and on and on – these are gifts being celebrated by and improved upon all over the modern world. 
    It is the spirit of Greece that lives in us all.

    Thank you Dena - It's been a pleasure!
    Ευχαριστούμε πολύ!

    More about Dena

    Since her debut as a newspaper columnist back in 1997, Dena Kouremetis has been tapping the keys as a journalist, author, and freelance writer for publications all across the country, including providing blog content for the prestigious Forbes.  

    She is the national Greek-American culture examiner for Examiner.com, as well as a regular blogger for her site, Communic8or.com, and regularly contributes to anthologies, web sites, and journals on topics ranging from love to pets to just being... Greek.
    Dena published her own coming-of-age eBook memoir, Climbing St.Friday in 2010, chronicling her life-changing year as a student in Athens’ American College of Greece during the military junta,  Climbing St Friday is a story that most of us who have grown up abroad can identify with readily, its many references to situations and experiences which we  have 'lived' shall we say, will make you smile, if not laugh outright!
    A talented and accomplished musician, she and her soul-mate George are regular members of a Sacramento, CA-based jazz/pops chorale and are at present preparing for  upcoming performances in Barcelona.

    Talent and business acumen run in the family... so it is only natural that the next generation is doing well too... the Greek beat goes on.

    Dena's daughter, Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso, recently won the coveted GABBY (Greek America’s Best and Brightest, similar to the Oscars but for accomplished Greeks) award for entrepreneurial excellence beating out well-known challengers, and is now
    a New York Times best-selling author with her memoir/business book #Girlboss. This comes after a whirlwind press and book tour, accompanied by none other than her justifiably proud Global Greek Mum! 

    As we Greeks say, the apple is sure to fall under the apple tree!

    At Global Greek World, We ♥ Greece...and it shows!
    © GlobalGreekWorld 2014 All Rights Reserved


    We welcome feedback from our readers, but please keep your comments polite and respectful. Anonymous comments will be evaluated and published only if considered appropriate.


    Related Posts with Thumbnails


    Archangel Michael's Shrine, Tarpon Springs, Florida, USA

    25th March Parade To Cenotaph Wellington, New Zealand

    25th March Anniversary Parade, Wellington, New Zealand