I grew up in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, in a white and blue decorated home with a very classical order. With a lemon tree planted in my front garden, every weekend would consist of BBQs, sauce making and lots of eating. You can see where this is heading, right?
Noula Komilionis was born in Pyrgotos (Πυργωτός), a village south of the City of Kilkis (Κιλκίς) in Greece. Her parents were also born and raised in the village – surrounded by an array of extended family who lived in small cottages. A communal town with acres of farmland and greenery, the current population is just 163 people. Noula was only six months old when her parents decided to migrate to Australia; on one of the first voyages to Australia from the mainland of Greece. It took 17 days for the boat to arrive in Port Melbourne. My grandmother Vicki, was in search of a better life. “There was nothing for me in Greece. No work, nothing.”
My mum grew up in Port Melbourne, until she moved to Thomastown during her high school years. “Because I was so young, I was able to adapt. I had an accent, and still do, but I still fit in. I started where everyone else began.”
“The only thing that was difficult about growing up was that my parents were immigrants. Because they didn’t understand english, I had to take on a little bit more. With appointments, parent teacher interviews, general things. I really became their translator.”
Nunzio Settinelli was born in Coburg, into the hands of a big Italian family. His parents moved to Australia for a better life – his mum, only 18. Surrounded by aunties and uncles, multiple sets of cousins, and an extended range of relations to lean on, Nunzio was surrounded by his own kind – and identified as an authentic wog.
After high school, Nunzio went to college to study accounting. Luckily enough, it was at this point in both Nunzio and Noula’s lives where they crossed paths and fell in love. From two different cultures, two different religions, the pair triumphed. Their love was like nothing else. Nunzio made her laugh like no one else could. They both laughed at the same jokes, had the same favourite smell, and enjoyed each other’s cuisines.
At the brink of their relationship was their two very different sets of parents. I still don’t know if they quite got along back then. But nowadays, we’re like one big fat multicultural family. We celebrate each of the different religious holidays together, and spend our time as one.
And that’s how I came about. A multi-religious, greek and italian kid. I’m proud of my origins, my family and my culture. And if it wasn’t for my background, I wouldn’t be as outrageous as I am today.
Words by Kristen Settinelli