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Giota Salpeas

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Giota Salpeas was born in 1997 in Baltimore, Maryland. Both of her parents families are from Greece. Growing up in a Greek community has shaped many aspects of Giota's life.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Please contact Immigration History Research Center staff for permissions not covered by this Creative Commons license.

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My identity comes from my Greek heritage. Both my parents are Greek and both were born and raised on the motherland. The majority of Greeks (at least all of the ones I know) are headstrong, loud, loving people. They will feed you until you feel like a whale, yell at you for not making things go their way, and love you forever (if you can win them over, like I did). Being Greek has definitely changed my life, in fact it has defined my life. There are some stereotypes out there about Greeks (especially if you've seen some of the movies out there), while that isn't completely inaccurate, they did exaggerate some things. My family is pretty big, they are loud most of the time, but not to the extent people normally believe. I grew up mainly in our Greek community. I went to a Greek Orthodox Church, and when I was in middle school I joined our church's youth group. The other kids in my youth group became some of my closest friends. Some of us even went to school together. I'm not saying this made me very sheltered but it did impact my life. In some ways I guess it did shelter me from some of the outside world because I mainly had Greek friends and we did everything together. I did have my friends who weren’t Greek from my neighborhood but I think they almost felt excluded sometimes because those of us who were Greek went to Greek events from our church and they felt excluded.
I remember when I was younger my grandmother was babysitting me and she said to me once, “Let me tell you something. We are lucky to be who we are because we are Greek. People who are not Greek, wish they were Greek.” I just remember sitting there laughing with her but in a sense I understood. Obviously no one thinks about in their lives “Wow I wish I was Greek”, but it’s the sense of community and family that I think she was talking about. No matter where I was when I was younger, whether it was church, at home, at my cousins’ house, or my friends’ house who was Greek, you always felt at home and welcomed. I never once felt discomforted or uneasy being somewhere new because we were one big community. I felt like I was Hannah Montana, living a double life, one which was with my Greek community, and the other as an American girl who went to school and lived in a mixed community and now is in college without any of those Greek friends I grew up with. I feel like having that sense of community made me into the outgoing crazy person that I am today, but it also helped me realize that not everyone is the same and that not everyone grew up the same way I did with that sense of community but having that cultural background does help a lot.