The tale of the indigenous is everyone’s story. What would happen if we all traced the beginnings of our ancestors? Indigenous means originating or occurring naturally in a particular place; native. In 2020, I sought to help with our understanding to decrease bias and increase connection with unity as a human race. My pathway led me to conduct appreciative inquiries with individuals who have ties to supporting indigenous communities or have ties to their family’s original environment.
I met Nicolle Ma through a mutual connection and found her to be an inspiration in gathering resources to support local projects. During the early stages of the pandemic, Nicolle worked with the Aunty Sewing Squad in the Navajo nation and the Navajo/Hopi Nation relief fund to provide masks for the indigenous people where COVID 19 rates have been reported to be the highest in our nation. The Navajo nation is 13x more likely to not have running water, easy access to roads, infrastructure, electricity, or WiFi. Her advocacy includes working collaboratively with locals with initiatives to meet physical needs and foster equality for healthcare.
After working with community leaders in the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) community, including the National Pacific Islander COVID-19 Response Team and the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO), Nicolle’s organization, Supply and Protect Healthcare Workers, made a recent donation to 6 medical facilities in Hawaii, Saipan (which is part of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. Commonwealth), and two countries: Palau and Micronesia (specifically the two states of Chuuk and Kosrae). Nicolle has expressed her gratitude to work together with these organizations and the opportunity to help as well as learn more about the NHPI community.
My parents were indigenous to Cyprus, where all of our relatives were forced off their land in 1974 by Turkey. The land, although currently ‘illegally occupied,’ remains under Turkish occupation to this day. My relatives have resettled to the southern part of the island of Cyprus and they live productive lives. I am first generation Greek American and was in Knoxville, TN with my parents during the invasion. My upbringing included an understanding of loss when I would visit family in Cyprus. My late father read and spoke Ancient Greek fluently, as an indigenous person to Greece. He wrote a book translating passages of the New Testament in the Bible, increasing understanding through original text. His book is soon to be published.
I connected with Christiana Gardikioti through the NOWWHAT?! Collective. Christiana lives in the Paralio Astros Arcadia region of Greece where the indigenous people still living, speak our original language of Ancient Greek. In honor of her late father, Christiana is committed to create community utilizing the mountains as the factory utilizing the existing resources by empowering the indigenous people of the area to use their innate talents. There is bio diversity in the Mediterranean eco system as the source to make a living. Youth have left the local villages in search of successful careers, with many leaving Greece altogether. Redefining success is also an initiative within the region.
Alexia Georghiou, founder principal with The Resilient Pathway, is a consultant with 25 years of experience teaching healthy cultural & social norms to individuals, groups, & families with well-being tools, fostering wholeness in communities. Specialist with communication, problem solving & conflict resolution training, evidenced by the ability of families worked with to mend relationships and meet life goals. She has executed communication strategies with payers, resulting in retention of clients for mental health providers; 30% above the industry standard. She has a passion to foster well-being in individuals, teams & organizations through effective change management strategies. Certified in Leadership & Management with a thorough understanding how management techniques impact human behavior, positively affecting employee engagement, productivity, & organizational bottom line earnings. She currently serves on the board of The Knoxville Association of Women Executives as President Elect/VP, in preparation of being the President in 2022. Her courses on resilience, motivating multi-generational teams and organizational culture are elective courses for The University of Tennessee Conferences & Non-Credit Programs Leadership Certification.