Friday, January 22, 2021

Greek LOL Student Stories: Novelist Voula Tsoflias and her Greek roots

Hellenic News
Hellenic News
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“Honor’s Shadow is a story of betrayal and revenge. How can Honor control her own pressing emotions and desires, as she attempts to contain the vengeful impulses of Tisi, her strange new client? Voula Grand is a writer to watch.” 

Apart from a writer to watch, Voula Tsoflias is another one of our amazing students who inspire us with their passion and commitment to learning Greek. Voula is a retired psychologist who lives in London. She is a novelist and she has Greek roots, her grandfather was from Chios. Greek culture and family was a constant in her childhood and her desire to come closer to the language of her father’s family proves that this hasn’t really changed.

 “Being Greek was a big part of my father’s life and therefore of our life. My father has never forgotten his father saying to him when he was 5, never forget that you are Greek. English was not allowed in my grandad’s house, so Greek was all around me when I was a child.” 

Voula was raised in a small Greek community in South Wales and Greek culture and family were big parts of her life. What actually pushed her to start learning Greek now, however, was a sort of a friendly bet…

 “We were on a trip in Tanzania about 18 months ago, she explains, and we were chatting about where to go next and a road trip around Greece sounded like a great idea. When my friends were worried about traveling around Greece without speaking the language, I basically told them to leave it with me. By the time we go to Greece, I said, I will be fluent in Greek and able to arrange everything. So basically my reputation now lies at the hands of my teacher, Eleftheria,” she jokes.

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Voula seems to be truly enjoying her learning experience, which is always so touching to hear. “My father is 92 and I have been writing to him in Greek which is something that has made him unbelievably happy. When I write to him he actually corrects my Greek, which makes me very happy.” “It’s a moving experience, she tells me, to learn Greek and it feels like  I am reconnecting with Greek culture and history.”

And although Voula is a relatively new student in our School, her interest in “Greek character” as she mentions is far from new. Voula has loved Greek mythology ever since she was a little girl. This interest of hers subtly permeates her first book, Honor’s Shadow, where there is a character called Tisiphone, named after the Greek Fury or Erinya of vengeance. “And this is what the book actually follows, Tisiphone’s journey from vengeance to forgiveness,” she tells me and I am instantly intrigued to read it.

Her interest in Greece intensifies in the book she just finished, Halo. “The main character Polixeni is born in Iceland and is adopted to Chios, my grandfather’s island. So a big part of the book is Chios, a place I come from, I have visited many times and was able to visualize and write about.”

I find her enthusiasm with Greek character very intriguing and she explains that “there is something exotic about Greece that is appealing to people, it’s a very different culture and a very different way of thinking. So it interests me and as a writer, you know, the subjects you write about, you learn deeply about.” 

And as for Voula’s future learning goal when it comes to Greek she says she remembers saying to herself “I’m not going to read the classics until I read them in Greek. But that’s a crazy thought. Maybe not the classics, but I would love to be able to read a modern book in Greek and understand it.”

If you ask me I am sure she will a lot sooner than she can even imagine.

Thank you, Voula for our interesting talk and for being part of our online Greek community. And as promised… See you in Greece!

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