The Greek Orthodox community in Jordan dates back to the early Christian period. There are also those Jordanians of Greek origin who settled down in this land in the 20th century. This week, we took the story of one of them. Here is a snapshot of the interview originally made by greekamericangirl.com.
Lisa Karathanassis, can you give us a quick summary of your life? How did you arrive in Jordan?
I was born in November 1960 in Jordan. My grandparents moved to Jerusalem; that’s where my parents were born. Although my family stayed there for many years in Thessaloniki, they moved back to Jerusalem after the second world war. After the Israeli invasion took place in 1948, my family decided to go to Amman-Jordan. They lived in hope that one day they could return to and settle in Greece.
Sadly for them, that day never arrived. However, my sister married a Greek man and ended up living in Greece after she graduated from the University of Thessaloniki. My brother now lives in Canada after he married a Canadian woman shortly after graduating from the USA. Also, two of my uncles are now settled in Australia.
I lived in Thessaloniki as well for a year after I left high school. After that, I studied Computer Science in Amman. I’ve enjoyed a fruitful and exciting career. My husband is from Jordan, and we have three beautiful children together, two boys and one girl.
Have your Greek roots impacted upon your life and career?
During my early years at school, I had a tendency to hide my Greek roots because I thought it would help me fit in more. However, it turned out that my knowledge of the Greek language helped me with my English and Science studies. I have to thank my Nan unconditionally for teaching my siblings and me how to read and write in Greek. We attended a Greek summer school, but that didn’t help much in educating us about Greek history.
Since my childhood things have changed. I’m now extremely proud of my Greek heritage. During vacations, we visit Greece, especially at times like Easter.
What do you think has led you to success?
It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly. I’ve always considered myself to be hardworking, and I am good at motivating myself. My first job was at a photocopying shop in Greece. Since then I’ve always had a job.
Do you think that holding onto your Greek roots is important? If so, why?
Of course! Our heritage is very special and unique. It is the responsibility of the people of Greece to keep it alive and teach others. It’s crucial that Greeks remember how our ancestors left big imprints in the world. On the other hand, we can’t only live in the past; we need to work hard now to continue creating new histories that Greek’s can be proud of.
How do you remain faithful to your culture as well as respecting and adapting to the values of the culture that you now live in?
Luckily, I think that I’ve been able to combine both relatively well. The values of the locals including their generosity and reservations are very much in line with ours. Sadly, even some Greek people who live in the bigger cities have lost those credentials.