Honouring your heritage

It’s great to integrate into the culture which we have chosen to settle, such as I was born in Romania of Greek father.Elli We came out as refugees, 300 Greek families from Romania who had been released by the Russians to leave due to our Greek nationality and from Greece on the Marshall Plan (agreeing to be declared stateless) choosing  Australia and arriving on the transport ship – General Ballou at Sydney in March 26th 1950 with my family. We settled in our new country nicely – my father George Polimeris, mother Eugenia, brother Apollon (5) and myself  Aphrodita (6) all speaking Greek and Romanian, except that my mother spoke self taught Italian, French, Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, Hungarian, Spanish,  and my father learned Italian in Australia, we all learned English too

Harbour Bridge

The Greek Romanians formed the Hellenic Cultural Association Acropolis (Greeks from Romania) and they organised regular get togethers such as the New Year’s Eve Dance and a picnic in the Royal National Park each year. In my thirties I became an Office Bearer on the Committee of this organisation then moved away and now I have returned to them and been voted on again at the end of 2013. This January we had a picnic at Ashfield Park and it was well attended with the Romanian Consul and his wife being there. There was music played on a violin by Olga just as she did when I was younger and we ate bbq skinless Romanian sausages with salad and shared the New Year’s Cake (Vasilopita) hoping to be the one to win the $400 gold coin. I felt warm and fuzzy inside with a bit of sadness because my father, mother and brother have died and yet it all seems just like yesterday with all these familiar people who know me and I know from so far back, how amazing is that – it’s like I’ve come home from a trip away.

I remember the first time I learnt to dance at  8 was when all the children my age bounced around close up in  front of the band as they played. Then my father began (my mother had abandoned us taking my disabled brother with her),  teaching me how to dance the tango and waltz. After that I learned for my debut Greek folk dancing which as a mother I taught my children and other children making up the multi ethnic children’s dance group performing at festivals. This came about when I became an ethnic community worker as my profession – I was educating people on the importance of honouring their heritage. In this dance group some of my children’s (Paul and Tina) friends were Italian, Yugoslav (as it was called then), Chinese, Greek Egyptian, and Anglo heritage. So I took my kids to, say, the Chinese Youth dance group and they taught us how to do the scarf dance and to the Romanian dance group who taught us how to dance some folk dances etc. The whole  group then were able to dance a variety of ethnic dances regardless of their ethnic origin. The dancers ranged in age from 7 to 14 and they performed to celebrate events such as Children’s week in the Town Hall square to the opening of the Ethnic Child Care Development Unit in 1979 of which I was the founding Co-ordinator and which was funded by the Federal Government Dept of Social Security. As Senator Guilfoyle was not available to carry out the ceremony the Hon Bob Ellicott,  Minister for Home Affairs represented her. To my delight  in 1980 Minister Bob Ellicott included me as one of the community representatives in the contingent funded to attend the United Nations Women’s Conference/Forum for Peace & Equality – Copenhagen. I had worked with him when he was the member for Wentworth and I was Co-ordinator  for NicNac Community Centre in Surry Hills as I had invited him to come and meet his constituents once a month  to assist them with problems they were experienced with, say, their unfair telephone bills when they were just pensioners. He was indeed helpful especially as he was a good lawyer and had ministerial clout.  Bob was known as a small “l” Liberal Minister.

As an ethnic community worker it was my role to impress on everyone how important multi-cultural thinking is TINA MAQ CENTRAL SUBS WINNER 1providing it means being proud of our heritage while at the same time integrating into the host society – that is trying to keep our customs because they are part of our identity – who we are, as well as adjusting those customs that clash too much with the host society so that we fit in more harmoniously. My daughter (18) won the double title of Miss Central Suburbs and Miss Central Suburbs Highest Fudraiser of Miss Australia Quest Spastic Centre (entered from the Greek Australian Region of MAQ ). We all know which those clashing customs are and so I will not list them all here except to mention that I do not believe it is acceptable to continue to persist with woman wearing head gear that covers their faces when being tested for/and driving which can be dangerous to others; or habits which support warmongering and riots, or rape, or female circumcision etc. In cases such as these the host society needs to rethink the setting of legal limits for multiculturalism before we “shoot ourselves in the foot” as has  been witnessed in other advanced minded countries which have been forced to backtrack their multicultural policies due to major conflict and  unrest as a result of antiquated customs from other cultures of immigrants entering into these progressive cultures (as in parts of France and the Scandanavian countries to name some).

Also I was for some years an Office Bearer in the Australian Hellenic Educational Society  of Australia (AHEPA) and enjoyed the fellowship it brought including encouraging my children when they become adolescents to join and my daughter, Tina, experienced her debut with her brother, Paul as her escort, which was lovely however is not something that takes place nowadays (too bad).

All I can say is Honour Your Heritage but make sure you take the part that is useful and loving and let go of the part that is hurtful and painful! It is a powerful feeling to know you belong to a group of like minded people who have the similar “roots” to you.Hands, photo by Marco Michelini, Firenze, Italy, reach outAffie Lets be friends






CAHS Convention June 2013 SYDNEY

Humanist Society of NSW bravely accepted its the responsibility to take on the helm of the national body of all the HumanistSydney States – the Executive of the Council of Australian Humanist Societies (CAHS) 2013-16 and that meant convening the CAHS Convention in Sydney which included the AGM with the election of the new Executive.  The Sydney Committee takes great pride in putting on a ‘good’ show and as I have the experience and enjoy the effort usually end up being the Convenor. The Committee is a great supportive group of people and this can make the planning quite enjoyable. The outcome was quite a success as we had:-

Friday 3rd May: 6pm Registration – Humanist House then Dinner Broadway Food Court

Saturday 4th May: 9.30-3pm CAHS AGM – Humanist House morning tea and lunch resulting in Paul Zagoridis as the new President, Mary Bergin -  Secretary and Ken Wright – Treasurer

Saturday Dinner Dance: 7.30 Ridges Hotel $65 (free under cover parking)


Paul, Robyn Williams, Ross, Mary





Entertainers:      George Eynon

George Eynon Entertainer




Talia  Nicolitsis, sang the Eva Cassidy version of  somewhere over the rainbow so see for her recent version see link:


for other Talia performances see You Tube : Talia Georgia Nicolitsis






Speakers: AHOY 2013 (Australian Humanist of the Year) Jane Caro and AHOY 1993 Robyn Williams AM (HumSocNSW Patron), Fred Flatow OHA 2013 (Outstanding Humanist Achiever), Dorothy Buckland Fuller (HumSocNSW Patron), Roslyn Ives (Past President CAHS), Paul Jane, Robyn& AffieZagoridis (President CAHS 2013),  Affie Adagio MC. Others present were Lee Rhianon The Hon member for NSW MLC Lee & John

(a HumSocNSW  member since her youth whom I believe, if I have the correct title, will  not be pleased with me using it), delegates from interstate, our Viewpoints editor (Frank Gomez and his partner Marco),  our Treasurer – Victor Bien and his wife Silvana, and our President – John August, of course Angela Drury, Brian Edwards and our pioneer Vicky Potempa and our generous an lucky Sturt Duncan who not only bought one of our Affie artworks but also won the second one that was raffled. We also had guests who were friends of our members and hence had a full house at the dinner. Our entertainer George Eynon who is originally a New Zealander ended his performance with some Maori amazing songs. Fantastic evening it certainly was.Silvana Victor

Marco Fabiani  Frank Gomez Editor





Fred OHA











Sunday: The Manly Ferry trip was the chosen tourist attraction and John August led the group of interstate and Sydney hosts to Manly on the beautiful half hour ride on our fascinating harbour which can get a bit choppy at the crossing of the heads but I thought everyone would benefit from a little adventure. One they reach Manly they had a walk to the Promenade and lunch at a lovely place near the beach                    What memories?Manly tour


Monday:   At State Parliament House Theatrette we had a Conference

9.30 Paul Zagoridis – CAHS President – WelcomeDr Nadine ShemaPaul Affie & GLAPD Panel





9.45 The African GLAPD Panel (Great Lakes Agency for Peace & Development)  led by Dr. Nadine Shema who introduced us to their work of raising awareness and funds for the countries surrounding the Great Lakes and not only the situation improvement but how much needs to still be achieved. As a result HumSocNSW became an organisational member for $100 p.a. to support them in there work and a resolution had eventuated from that session encouraging assististance.

11.30 Ethics Education Initiatives in Australia – After morning tea Ian Bryce  convened a panel of outstandingIan Bryce leaders in the field of ethics classes: St. James Ethics School – Simon Longstaff AOM (Executive Director) and Teresa Russel (General Manager) Ethics Classes; John Kaye – Greens MP; John Russell (Social Worker) Humanist Society Vic, Dr Victor Bien originally member of Federation of P&C Association commissioning (2005) St. James Ethics Centre instigating ethics classes.

Ethics Panel





Dorothy Buckland Fuller (Humanist Society NSW Patron) expressed our appreciation and gratitude to the speakers of both Panels.






   1.oo Lunch and close of CAHS Convention

Feedback from attendees from Sydney and interstate was extremely favourable as to the standard of the CAHS Convention and that it had been an enjoyable experience. We were all grateful for participants being so thoughtful as to give us feedback as this makes all the effort worthwhile. For example, 2 weeks prior to the weekend of the Convention we had 9 firm bookings when the function room was booked for 50 people! Cancelling the dinner dance was not at all in question and on the night we had a full house. So it was worth the stress because it was indeed wonderful to connect with everyone from interstate  and celebrate.





Birthday celebration

Circle of Love, photo by Lioness 65, Frankfurt, Germany, family meetingWhen a family meets for the birthday celebration of another family member it is, indeed, a special day. The food is familiar, the presents are enjoyable and everyone enjoys touching base with family. In this day and age everyone is so busy and it is days like this that brings everyone together. For a few hours there is a circle of love, usually, together with laughter and fun.

today was my 13 year old granddaughter’s birthday
and Gaby had requested that it be a
birthday celebration with her extended family
so there were 20 people present and
there was laughter and fun and delicious food
on another day she will celebrate with her friends
how enjoyable it was today as we all came together
and spent a lighthearted celebration with her
she loved opening her gifts and especially
playing with her cousins all at once

Circle of Love, photo by Lioness 65, Frankfurt, Germany, family meeting

Children need love, so parents chill out

Anger, photo by Ivar van Bussel, Groningen, Netherlands, abusive tantrumsFathers and mothers, with small children, are usually at a Life Stage when stresses affect their behaviour, making them intolerant. It’s vital that we don’t psychologise abusive behaviour exhibited by stressed parents. In other words, avoid excusing abusive actions just because parents are stressed – there’s no excuse good enough for abuse. So parents, remember that although you’re having a hard time, when you over-react about your children’s mistakes this negatively impacts on their self-esteem. Also your behaviour is seen as inappropriate and abusive by children and everyone around too! What’s more if the ‘punishment is too severe then the lesson is lost’. When you’re finding it difficult to keep your cool, then maybe you need to see a therapist so that you can let off steam before it becomes abusive for everyone concerned. Children need love to grow healthily, not fear. Childrearing specialists claim that prisoners didn’t get there from too much parental love as children.

she was almost hysterical as she told me
how her family was driving her crazy
her husband was in the same state!
you may say “no wonder” when they
are in stressful jobs and trying to
make a decent lifestyle for their family!
then as the story unfolded they realised that
their lives had become unmanageable due to
hard work, lots of bills and not enough rest
everything had become so serious and
children have no way of knowing how
to deal with their parents’ stress, therefore,
they chose to do things as a family that
would bring them fun and relaxation
as well as putting their home in order
instead of just excusing the dysfunctionality

Family gatherings

Paper family, photo by Brian S, Jakarta, Indonesia,  family reunionsAt the end of the year, for the festivities there are many family gatherings. Relatives get together to celebrate and have fun. Sometimes this is a wonderful experience and at other times the unintended happens with arguments and hurt feelings. The success of family gatherings depends on the members of each family and how important it is for them to strengthen family ties. When people can put principles above personalities they can enjoy fulfilling relationships in their families and can spend enjoyable get togethers. Instead of becoming offended about something it’s better to ask “how important is it?” and let go of the hurt.

each year her family comes together
and it’s an enjoyable event that she
looks forward to each time
kids grow up and have their own families
so the family gatherings that parents
can depend on taking place
become fewer and therefore
even more special
she thought herself fortunate
that her family continues to value
attending these yearly events with her
which brings them all together for some fun


lonely, photo by Hipolito Alonso, Rio Gallegos,  Argentina, alone, singleHuman beings have an innate need to belong. This includes being in a union with a significant other and groups such as family, friends, community, work. Happiness also comes as a result of activities carried out alone such as walking and meditation. Then again sometimes being alone can bring on feeling lonely. This may not last long but it is a feeling which is unsettling. Nevertheless, without this feeling we would not socialise, so it has its value even though it is a nuisance.

it was a relatively happy day for me
then out of the blue I felt lonely
so I sat with the feeling for a moment
am I isolating? have I socialised lately?
then I realised that I am faced with a
necessary but unpleasant task to do now
which made me miss having fun with others
so feeling lonely was more manageable than
feeling self pity!
better get on with it I guess and
if I still feel lonely I’ll call someone