Meet John Kazaklis
I have a great passion to seek out stories and content regarding people groups and languages that have yet to be told. What inspired this? The diverse surroundings of my upbringing in the DC Metro Area as well as my family's unique history have both played a great role in this.
My paternal grandparents were refugees with roots in the Greek hinterlands of Northern & Eastern Thrace (present-day Bulgaria & European Turkey) where they eventually settled in Greek Macedonia around 1915. My maternal grandfather was the son of a Lebanese immigrant who left Beirut on a boat in the early 20th Century and made his way to Buenos Aires. He eventually settled in southern Bolivia where a small Arab colony was formed in the city of Tarija. My maternal grandmother was orphaned at a young age due to a catastrophic war between Bolivia and Paraguay. My parents left their native countries for the US in the 1970s with their suitcases and a legacy full of family history.
So yes, I do come from a crazy family of Bolivians and Greeks where English, Spanish, and Greek were spoken at home. Born and raised in the DC Metro Area, I grew up in one of the most diverse suburbs in the country. My childhood was where I was exposed to people from just about every kind of cultural, religious, and linguistic background. I went to high school with Bolivians, Afghanis, Koreans, Palestinians, Salvadorans, and plenty of mixed kids like myself.
My father also played a pivotal role in helping me interact with all kinds of people that were different from us. I have memories of him always inviting people he would randomly meet around the neighborhood over to the house to share a cup of coffee or a meal. This was his way to meet new people and have an excuse to debate about religion and politics like the true Greek he is. My parents were also eager to take the family to their homelands as well. Because we had extended family in both Bolivia and Greece, we traveled to both places throughout my childhood. This is where I developed my love for travel and feeling like "home" could be multiple places instead of just one single geographical location.
So maybe it's in my DNA or maybe it's because of my childhood, but ultimately I want people to feel more connected and more empathetic towards each other. I think this happens when we are open to learning about others outside of our tribe and getting to know them. One way for this to take place is through staying curious and through reading. I hope that reading stories from Istoria will make you feel more connected to your neighbor-- whether they are in your own backyard or on the other side of the world.