Book Launch in Astoria for the Village of Agios Georgios Sikousis, Chios, Greece

Books translators (standing) Hope Delane Demertzis and Efstratios Demertzis, with St. George Sikousis Syllogos board member Nick Papagiannakis.


By Eleni Sakellis

Published in The National Herald, October 13-19, 2018


I am excited that The National Herald has given Hellenic Genealogy Geek the right to reprint articles that may be of interest to our group. 


ASTORIA – A book launch celebrating The Village Agios Georgios Sikousis by Pantelis A. Mavrogiorgis, now available in English translation and e-book format, took place on October 7 at the Chian Federation in Astoria.

The event was sponsored by the St. George Sikousis Syllogos and was followed by the Sikousis General Assembly Meeting. Originally published in Greek in 1990, the book was translated by Hope Delane Demertzis and Efstratios Demertzis, and published to coincide with the 500th anniversary this year of the founding of the village. The St. George Sikousis Syllogos and its predecessor organization, the Agios Georgios Sikousis Society, was the patron and original driving force behind the publication of the book.

St. George Sikousis Syllogos President John Pilavas gave the welcoming remarks, thanking everyone for their presence, and noting that “this is a major milestone for our organization or any organization, in reality. We were able to take a book that was published in Greek, translate it into English so the next generation can understand and learn about our history, about our village. The individuals who took on this project, this long project started with different members including people like Peter Billis and continued on and on until we could get it done, it wasn’t something we sat down in one day and said let’s get it done, it took a lot of work, a lot of investment, a lot of donations. I also want to thank John Bougiamas and Kalliope Barlis who continued the effort to get this done.”

Bestselling author and Vice President of the Syllogos, Kalliope Barlis spoke in Greek about how the project began 30 years ago with Mavrogiorgis’ original book on the village. He wrote another two books as well, but the translation into English of the first book was finally completed through the efforts and the hard work of Barlis, John Bougiamas, and Nick Papagiannakis. Barlis pointed out that the English translation is an opportunity for the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to learn about their ancestral village.

“When I read the book, I understood the struggles, the joys of our village,” Barlis said.

She then noted that the founding of Agios Georgios Sikousis was based on religion with the Church of St. George, once the chapel of the monastery there, at its heart. 

“For the first time, we understand what they went through, what they suffered, and we should thank Panagiotis Billis who years ago donated funds and Fr. Nicholas Palis who started the English translation and later the Syllogos took on the project, Nick Papagiannakis, John Bougiamas, and myself, for the translators- Hope Delane Demertzis and Efstratios Demertzis to complete the project.”

Hope Demertzis said, “when we were asked to do the translation of this book we felt extremely honored because for one thing Mr. Mavrogiorgis wrote it as a tribute to his village and he dedicated it to his father explaining that his father was a village teacher, as we read it and we worked on it, we realized he was not just a village teacher, he was more than that, he was also a school administrator, a person who was interested enough in education to go into some continuing education program that had come in eventually and to learn how to teach even more subjects… It occurred to us that as we were reading this, the author’s father must have been present constantly in his mind and in his heart, and so was his village. What we learned, though I’ve been to Greece but not Chios, it was a trip to Chios I don’t think I will ever forget, understanding the history of the island and specifically what it was like in Agios Georgios Sikousis… Mavrogiorgis’ research was exhaustive.”

Her husband and co-translator, Efstathios, then spoke about how reading and rereading the book helped them understand what the author was trying to say. He quoted Kazantzakis, “‘You have your brush, you have your colors, you paint paradise and go in,’ and that is what Pantelis [Mavrogiorgis] did.” 

Copies of the book were available for sale at the event and are also available on Amazon. 

Pilavas said, “We will do everything we can to continue to preserve the history of our village, to promote it, and go beyond that to make sure our next generation, our children, who may not experience it the way we did because our grandparents were there, but we want them to know that it’s not just a vacation spot, there’s more to who we are. We’re Agiorgousoi and we’re proud of it.”