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Stella Grammenos-Dimadis knows the story of migration all too well. Her family migrated to Australia from Greece in the ’60s and in the '70s they returned to Greece only to stay for 6 months before they migrated for a second and final time to Australia.
Her maternal grandmother was a refugee. She fled Asia Minor (Anatolia) in the 1910s and found herself, a young girl with most of her extended family missing or killed, in Greece.
Stella grew up with hearing these stories, often interwoven with fairy tales. Later she understood that traumatic experiences leave indelible marks that last generations.
"Over a hundred years and over a few generations, there has been so much movement globally," Grammenos-Dinmadis tells SBS Greek.
"I always wanted to document the migrants' stories before it’s too late. I started from my family, interviewed my mum and then branched out to other migrants I know."
And so the project known as Migrant Stories was born.
Melbourne based Grammenos–Dimadis is focusing on the first year of settlement in another country.
"I want to see the trials and tribulations these migrants face when they come to Australia," she says. "I am particularly interested in the first year rather than a lifetime of what migration meant to an individual."
Listen to Stella Grammenos–Dimadis full interview (in English) with SBS Greek in the audio player above.
Using her film-making skills she embellishes the interviews with visual material from the first year of settlement to create a three-four minute short film.
The first series, comprised of six interviews have been released online via the Migrant Stories Facebook page.
"I wanted to see if some of those dreams that they had actually became reality or some of those dreams had to change to adapt to the new country,” Grammenos-Dimadis says.
Watch the first video in the series below:
Given that migration has been part of Australia’s history for decades what new elements does the Migrant Stories series bring?
Grammenos–Dimadis is interested in the coping mechanism that people develop and the process of adjustment during the first year of settlement.
“That first year is very, very important and a lot of things get set up for people,” she says.
“What that first year means to an individual and how they cope, and what support systems or coping mechanisms do they put in place so that first year comes quite smoothly for them."
Migrant Stories is an inclusive project. Migrants from all nationalities, walks of life or age group, can participate and tell their story to Grammenos–Dimadis who is keen to hear from anyone willing to share his/her experiences.
An interpreter will be provided if language is a barrier.
“Migrant Stories is open to as many cultures as I can personally be able to document in the next year or so,” she says.
Grammenos–Dimadis encourages anyone interested in participating to contact her via her film company Medea Films.
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