“Have you always wanted to see how Lemnians host an event? Want to make Yiayia and Pappou proud? Then you should sign up to become a member of the Lemnian Youth of Victoria! ”
This is the call of the young Lemnians to their peers of Lemnos heritage as well as to the ones who admire the history and culture of the Aegean island, in an effort to revive the Lemnian Youth Committee that remained inactive for decades.
At the helm of this initiative are eight “fresh” faces, from 19 to 26 years old, led by the “Benjamin” of the group, 19-year-old Joanna Angeletos, who spoke to Neos Kosmos about the attempt to reignite the spark of interest to young Lemnians into restarting the Youth Club.
“WE ARE LUCKY TO BE LEMNIANS”
The question inevitably comes to what was it that prompted a young student to become interested and want to become so dynamically and actively involved with the Lemnian Community?
“My dad is a Lemnian, so I’m half Lemnian, but I obviously consider myself just Lemnian, like everyone else. And he (dad) always tells me so many stories from when he was younger, especially from his involvement in the Lemnian Community, and it really sparked my interest. Obviously, when I was younger, I did go to many of the events, but it kind of fizzled out a bit as I got older, as there wasn’t a very big presence of the youth in the community. But recently, I’ve gotten involved in the university committees and I started wondering ‘why can’t there be a reignition of the Lemnian youth?’ And I always hear stories about snow trips from the youth back years ago, and how there’d be four buses full of young people whereas now, we’re struggling to get people to come on board of the Committee. So, I thought, why not do something like that?”.
Joanna explains that the ultimate aim of the Lemnian Youth of Victoria is to create a sense of community and belonging among the younger generation of Lemnians, so that our “rich heritage” is not lost.
“We are definitely very fortunate to be able to call ourselves Lemnians, we have such a rich culture. And I think that it is imperative that as the youth we are able to prolong the traditions, the history of the customs, and all the culturally significant aspects of Lemnos. So, in Victoria, we need to really create that sense of community and belonging, still and make that carry on. Because as being Linnaean, you often meet someone new within the Greek community, and get talking, and then discover that they’re also Lemnians and it just brings that deeper connection. So, we definitely need to remain in unity so that we can experience the same as what our parents and our grandparents did, as I mentioned earlier, and hopefully, we’ll be able to create an intergenerational community that, you know, continues after us because as it stands, we as the youth are the future”, Joanna said.
A DIFFICULT MISSION
Apparently, the eight young Lemnians are facing a hard task. Young people’s interests have changed over the years and when an institution has been dormant for so long it is difficult to revive it. However, not impossible, especially when the reins are taken over by people full of passion, enthusiasm, love and pride for their origins.
The Committee’s strategy to attract members is based on inclusiveness, as the chairperson explains.
“We need to be able to bring the youth together and celebrate the different Lemnians’ achievements, so that we, as a community, can rise up. And I think another important thing is that we’re inclusive, so it can be open to, not only Lemnians, but people outside of the community so that we can all celebrate Lemnos together”, Joanna said.
The newly formed Lemnian Youth Committee is doing everything it can to make its existence known to the wider Greek community. And this is currently the biggest bet for its members.
“Our main goal at the moment is to raise awareness of our new committee, get more Lemnians involved, get the older generations of Lemnians to tell their grandchildren, tell their children that ‘the Lemnian Youth is back, you need to sign up, get involved’, so that we can all create a stronger community for the future, and also make new “παρέες”, make new connections and friendships as well”, said the 19 year old President of the Committee.
Aside from the social media platforms, Lemnian Youth is trying to take advantage of every avenue open to it through the central Lemnian Community of Victoria and its other subcommittees, to attract the interest of more young people.
“Especially the seniors, most of whom were born in Lemnos, have a lot to teach us. They’re the main source that we have of culture and all in all of the community because they started it, they’re the ones who founded the club. They once upon a time were in the Lemnian Youth, years ago, like my dad was, I know that the president, Phil Diamataris, was in the first Lemnian Youth, so I think that from them we can actually learn how to go about running our new Youth Club. And so far, we’ve received lots of support from them. And I’ve been told by the main Committee, the Women’s Committee and the Seniors Committee that they will help us with anything we need”, Joanna said.
The 19-year-old chair of the Lemnian Youth Club recognises that our culture and language are in danger of disappearing along with the first generation of immigrants, but she strongly believes that young people can and should do something to prevent this.
“I definitely believe that there are customs and traditions that have probably phased out a little bit as the generations have gone along, but a lot of them (representatives of the first generation) are still alive. So, we can definitely ask those questions. And by making this Youth Committee, we can try and get as much information we can before it’s too late, so that we can, as community and committee, pass that on to the rest of the youth”.
Joanna and Vice-Chair of the Committee, Christina Vemi, will visit Lemnos this year together and they hope that “we will learn some things from our trip there that we can bring back and share. Many of us young people have never been to Lemnos and if we could organise some trips in the future, I think it would help us feel more connected to the Lemnian culture,” Joanna said.
Trips to Lemnos may be part of the Youth Committee’s future plans, but for now we will be able to meet them at the “Glitz and Glamour Gala”, an event that they are co-organising with the Lemnian Communtity of Victoria on Saturday 28th May.
“It’s just more of a not too formal event, where everyone can meet each other and have a good time. Following that, in the future, we’re looking at having a cocktail night and then other little events like ‘πανηγύρια’ and just little ‘get to know you’ events as well”, Joanna said.
“WE HAVE BIG SHOES TO FILL”
Joanna Angeletos is a proud young Lemnian who feels it is her duty to live up to the expectations of her ancestors and together with the rest of her team in the Youth Committee to continue the legacy they inherited by their predecessors.
“We’ve got big shoes to fill. Lemnian Community has a big reputation and if you identify yourself as a Lemnian within the Greek community, you need to live up to that identity. So, not only for the other reasons I listed, but for all of our predecessors that worked so hard to actually create the (Lemnian) community, I think we owe it to them as Lemnians to also do something important and big for our community”.