NAME: Litsa Karathanassis
WHERE IN THE WORLD: Amman, Jordan
Briefly narrate the story of your life. How did you get to Jordan?
In Nov 1960 I was born in Jordan. My grandparents were from Asia Minor and they moved to Jerusalem where my parents were born. My mother’s family stayed a number of years in Thessaloniki but left after WWI to go back to Jerusalem. After the Israeli invasion in 1948 my family moved to Amman-Jordan on temporary basis hoping that one day they will be able to move back to Greece and settle there.
That day never came, although my sister who graduated from the university in Thessaloniki married a Greek and stayed there. My brother graduated from USA married a Canadian and moved to Canada. Both my uncles ended up in Australia.
After high school I did live in Thessaloniki for a year, but I came back after that and completed my higher education in Computer Science here in Amman. I have had a successful career and I married a Jordanian and have three children, Faris (Petros), Ramzi (Giorgos), and Katerina.
To what extent has your “Greekness” impacted your life and work?
In my childhood I thought that in order to fit that I had to hide my “Greekness”, the language however helped me in my study of Science and English, and I give credit to my grandmother for teaching us how to read and write in Greek. The Greek summer school did not add much to that, so we had little knowledge of the history.
The situation completely changed later, I am now extremely proud of being a Greek. We spend most of our vacations in Greece, we keep some of the traditions especially those related to Easter Time.
I have always been a hard-working and self motivated person. During my year in Greece I worked at photocopying shop and did not stop working ever since.
Do you think it is important to hold on to your Greek heritage? Why?
Absolutely, our heritage is unique and it is up to us to keep it alive. It is our duty as Greeks to go beyond “just being Greeks” and remind everyone how our ancestors have impacted the world. On the other hand we need to realize that we cannot keep living in the glories of the past and we need to work very hard today to remain worthy of such rich heritage.
How do you negotiate the push/pull of staying true to your culture and keeping your roots vs.adopting the values and customs of the larger culture you live in? (Think of this question esp. with regards to raising a family. )I believe that I was able to do both, to some extent. The local values, reservations and generosity complement our own. Even though I noticed that the Greeks who live in the big cities of Greece have lost some of those values. They have adopted the “δε βαριεσαι” philosophy, and have no interest in going out of their way for anyone.