A live voice of Hellenism in the distant Cordoba
Although she was born and grow up in Buenos Aires, she was raised as an original Greek woman, with her family, and next to the Greek immigrants’ community, who convey to her the Greek values and principles, along with Orthodox faith. During her early years, Mrs Zonara visited with her father Thessaloniki, which is one of the many beautiful memories she has from her childhood.
She volunteers every day to Hellenism in the distant Cordoba in Argentina. Giving an interview in Athens – MPA news agency, Mrs. Zonara keeps no secret of her passion for the Greeks of Cordoba, who, according to her, «they are struggling to keep their identity» in a place where everything which is Greek is considered to be an idol. Even the merest mention that you are from Greece is enough to receive admiration.
Since 1977, she voluntarily teaches the Greek language to young children, and since 2002, along with her significant philanthropic activities, she directs the Linguistic, Cultural Center of the Greek community in Cordoba. She is proud to have Greek blood run in her vains and as Mrs. Zonara says, «Greece is my life and my joy is to see our children follow, with a passion, the same path. My greatest satisfaction is when we are hosting friends from Greece and they tell us how they find in us a part of homeland.»
Her family’s story is no different from those of the thousands of other immigrants who left their country to seek a better future abroad. Her father, Michael Georgalas left from Chios in 1939. His destination, Argentina, and he took with him his hope and dreams. He was not care about the money. Arriving in Buenos Aires he was lucky to meet with Mike Orfanos, who was his first and most important abutment in a foreign land.
Michael Georgalas knew very well the art of making halva, and this was an activity which nurtured many people over the years since the small shop he established at his beginning, which eventually became a factory with 1,500 workers.
From an early age, Mrs Zonara remember herself being actively involved in the Greek community-La Colectividad Helenica, where she learned the Greek language and the traditional dances of her homeland and she became a communicant of the traditions of Greek culture. She studied to become a Teacher at the School Nuestra Senora del Perpetuo Socorro in Buenos Aires, but that was not an obstacle for her active participation at the events of the Greek Youth, Community, where she met her husband, Kyriakos Zonaras, from Athens, who was the president of the Greek Youth and a member at the Greek Dance Group of the Community.
Having of love for the homeland in her heart, she followed her husband in Cordoba. Since 1977, she was in contact with the Greek community of Cordoba and offered voluntarily, to teach the Greek language to the children, something that she continues uninterrupted to do until today. At the same she developed a remarkable activity at the Ladies Benevolent Fraternity of the city, which served as chairman during the 1990s.
Since 2002, Mrs. Zonara directs the Linguistic and Cultural Center of the Greek Community of Cordoba, where she teaches the Greek language to the children, adolescents and adults, of Greek and non-Greek origin. Moreover, she delivers seminars on topics related to the Greek tradition and customs that concern even the culinary art.
It is worth mentioning that the Greek dance is being taught by an Italian named Christian Lamakia, who has visited Athens twice for lessons at Dora Stratos. Another important element that shows the people’s love for Greece is that Mrs. Zonara with one more homogeneous are the only Greeks to dance among twelve other adults. And even if the Greek migration in the region has stopped for many years and the spreading of the Greek language is becoming increasingly difficult because of the plenty mixed marriages, she is optimistic in her every single word.
«I do not think the Hellenism will be lost in Latin America, although mixed marriages are the majority,» she said. «What we see-is still- the pride of the local people who marry a Greek girl or Greek boy. And we embrace them with the same love. After all, Greeks and Argentineans, we look like a lot. The active members of the community are around 200 and we feel as one big family. We are a part of Greece in Cordoba, and people know it «.
At the end of the interview, Mrs. Zonara notes that she maintains constant contact with the Department of Classical Studies at the National University of Cordoba, where she would love to see modern Greek to be taught soon. It is the oldest educational institution in Argentina, which is decorated by the marble statues of Aristotle and other ancient Greek philosophers, offered by the Greeks of Cordoba.