Well what can I say – the Corsica book launch on Sunday was a resounding success. Better than I had imagined.
It was such a special event and I was so pleased that some of the passengers (who are now aged in their late 80s and 90s) were able to attend along with their families. This was the first reunion ever organised in Melbourne since the dilapidated and broken-down Corsica was berthed at Station Pier seventy years ago. Understandably it was a very emotional reunion with many tears shed.
I was also very proud to have an audience that included both Greek and Turkish Cypriots (Muslims and Christians) gathered in the same room, sitting side by side and sharing this very special and historical moment together. This was my ambition and one of the highlights of the event.
It also brought me great joy to see and hear how the younger members of the audience responded to my talk and visual presentation and to the large exhibition posters on display. They took turns to express their ‘thanks’ for helping them to learn and appreciate the struggles and sacrifices that their parents or grandparents had endured in order for them to have a better life. Their thanks and appreciation was reward enough for all my hard work and sleepless nights over the last ten years. This is ultimately why I created Tales of Cyprus in the first place. Apart from my own personal tribute to a bygone era, and my quest to preserve the living memories of my parent’s generation – I also wanted to inform and educate current and future generations about our extraordinary Cypriot elders and ancestors.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank a few people who help me along the way and gave me the courage to commit time, money and energy to this most worthy passion project.
Firstly, to my wonderful wife Christina. Thank you for your unconditional love and encouragement. You were also there to prop me up when my legs and mind became too weary. Your unwavering support gave me the freedom and the space to travel far and wide to gather these precious stories before it was too late. I couldn’t have achieved this much without you.
Secondly, I would like to thank all the amazing passengers who travelled on the Corsica who I met and interviewed over the last ten years. You invited me into your homes and trusted me to write and preserve your oral history and for that, I am eternally grateful. Thank you also to your spouses, children and grandchildren who helped along the way. Without your trust and support, these stories of migration would never have been documented. In addition, I would like to thank all the fantastic people who knew someone from the Corsica who had sadly passed away or was struck down with dementia. You made the time to share their stories with me and gave me access to your precious family albums. Please know that you have done an amazing and important job to help preserve the memory and the stories of your loved ones. May they all Rest in Peace.
Special thanks to all the people who shared their time and wisdom about immigration, shipping and of course the Corsica with me. You know who you are. You put up with my constant phone calls, messages, emails and questions so that I can write a more accurate and authentic historical account of post-war migration. This includes all my Greek, Maltese, Italian, Turkish, Lebanese, British and Australian friends and contacts. You are all incredible.
Lastly, a big thank you to all of you – my loyal and wonderful Facebook family. You have inspired and encouraged me over the years to keep researching, writing and documenting the oral history of our elders and to explore our mostly forgotten cultural heritage.
Although I am tired, I am extremely proud of everything that I have been able to achieve in such a short time, mainly due to all your help, encouragement and support. To that end, I will always be grateful.
Onwards and Upwards! (After a brief rest).
Costas Emmanuelle