Last Song to Xenitia
a Documentary Film by Athena Scotes
My grandmother's story is a familiar one to millions of immigrants. Vasiliki left her homeland as a bride in search of a better life in America. The Greeks call this xenitia, which means living as a stranger in a foreign land. In America she found hope, raised a family and worked hard. She was thankful for everything that America gave her, but she never forgot her homeland. For over eighty years living in xenitia, she kept hundreds of ancient songs alive. They linked her to those she left behind and to the homeland she loved so dearly. These songs evoked bittersweet memories of why she and many like her were forced to leave and seek a better life in xenitia. She sang these songs to her children and grandchildren. Nearing 100 years old she would dictate over 340 songs to her son- these songs were eventually published in a book.
Now, at the age of 103 she journeys for the last time back to Greece with her book of songs. She is honored by the President of Greece, as a preserver of an ancient oral tradition and a folk poet in her own right. Her songs are even recorded by famed Greek folk singer, Lakis Halkias. A concert of her songs is held in her remote mountain village. While on this journey, she finds that Greece is in crisis. Economic crisis, cultural crisis and, perhaps, even an identity crisis. We travel through Greece together and meet young people, who are struggling with the choice of leaving their homeland once again to live in xenitia. Vasiliki spent her life in xenitia - for her and her generation this was the answer to their problems. But she tells the youth that today, for them, xenitia may not be the answer.