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ITHAKA ON THE HORIZON: A Greek-American Journey



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    Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, Saco, Maine, USA 10-12 July 2009

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    The Patriarchal Theological Seminary of Halki is located on the Turkish island known as Heyelbiada in the Bosporus straits. It was closed in 1971 by the Turkish government and is the subject of much controversy since it is the only seminary in Turkey and the position of Ecumenical Patriarch can only be filled by a Turkish citizen. Sign the petition to reopen it at

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08 September 2007



Stavros, the poem encapsulates well the nature of the longing felt by Cypriot refugees, which is longing for a whole way of life. Each town and village in Cyprus before the invasion was its own distinct little world, and before belonging to and identifying with Cyprus or Greece, people, first and foremost, belonged to and identified with their town or village. I’m sure this applies throughout Greece, in places like Crete, Epiros, Rhodes, the Peloponnese and so on. The Turkish occupation far from reducing a Cypriot’s identification with his or her town and village has only served to increase it. I don’t think the Turks expected this. I think they thought after a few years the refugees would accept their losses. Not that the Cypriot refugee response is unique. I often hear of Palestinians made refugees by the Israelis in 1948 still longing for their way of life and expecting to return to their homes and land. Actually, being from Politsani and the City, you are a kind of double refugee, so I'm sure you know what I'm talking about.


I'm not sure how to explain this attachment that we feel to these places other than the fact that we have been there so long they have become a part of our DNA. Cypriots have responded to their particular tragedy in a unique way, they have built a democratic, thriving and viable state and have not resorted to violence. That is commendable and should be recognized accordingly. The Turks want others to respect them; respect is not necessarily earned by the unrestrained use of power as we Americans are beginning to realize. The importation of Turks from Anatolia into the occupied part of Cyprus has complicated an already complex situation. Turkish behavior has not been conciliatory. Turkish nationalism seeks to expand that country's borders, read what Ataturk had to say about the subject. The Turks can't have it both ways. If they want respect they must be willing to negotiate a just settlement on Cyprus.

My fervent hope for you and your family is that will be able to return to a better, more peaceful Cyprus. Next year in Yialousa.


Vasso Savvidou-mihalarea, Greece

My Divided Homeland (CYPRUS)

I tied my thoughts
to the little ship's mast,
slept on its deck
with a blank mind
only to wake up
surrounded by sea-gulls.
They looked at me sad;
alas! I couldn't play or laugh
as my thoughts were still stuck
on that little far away LAND.

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Searching for Ithaka

  • Keep Ithaka always in your mind. Arriving there is what you're destined for. But don't hurry the journey at all. Better if it lasts for years, so you're old by the time you reach the island, wealthy with all you've gained on the way, not expecting Ithaka to make you rich. Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey. Without her you wouldn't have set out. She has nothing left to give you now. And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you. Wise as you will have become, so full of experience, you'll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean. C. P. Cavafy


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