“The one who started Greek lessons first was our son Liam and I think what triggered it was the death of my mother, his grandmother in April and a need to go back to his roots”
Ron tells me about how his whole family including him, his wife Jane and their two adult children decided to start Greek lessons with our School some months ago.
Ron is based in the UK but was born in the middle of the Greek Civil War in Greece to an English diplomat and Eleni Kiortsi, a woman from Thessaloniki. While the bond between a Greek yiayia and her family needs no further explaining and is enough to understand what triggered Liam to go back to his roots after his yiayia passed away, Eleni was no ordinary yiayia. She was rather extraordinary.
Eleni Cubitt as she came to be known, our student Ron’s mother, was a filmmaker and an activist. As Dame Janet Suzman said in her obituary, Eleni was “electric, charming, voluble” and she had one dream; to help return the Parthenon Marbles back to her native country, Greece.
“My mother’s involvement started when after she had made some films she was invited to work in the Greek Embassy in London as a cultural attaché. She met Melina [Mercouri] who was the Cultural Minister and was passionate about the Marbles, my mother got to know her really well and started the Committee for the return of the Marbles to Greece of which she was Secretary for more than 25 years.”
Eleni’s commitment to seeing the Parthenon Marbles back in Greece pushed her to use her connections in the world of the arts and business in order to raise awareness about the cause in the UK. And while the Marbles might not be back yet, thanks to people like Eleni, this dream will for sure become a reality one day.
“It is still surprising how many people in the UK actually know about the Marbles that you wouldn’t normally expect them to know,” Ron adds.
Filmmaker, activist, ever Greek, but above all mother and grandmother, Eleni is survived today by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Ron and his family visit Greece every chance they get, keep in contact with family in Greece and are obviously great students in our Greek OnLine classes. Just a short conversation with Ron is enough to understand how much Greece means to him and his family and the idea that their Greek lessons help them feel closer to their Greek roots after Eleni’s passing is simply humbling for us to hear.
As far as his lessons are concerned, Ron hopes to improve his speaking skills and have a wider vocabulary. As a family they want to continue going to Greek islands they haven’t been before. We conclude our talk with a promise to meet in person in Greece in our Immersion Course for adults as soon as possible and get to hear more stories from this truly amazing Greek family that we are lucky enough to have in our own online family.
Ron, Jane, Liam, Zoe and Eleni… thank you…