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Cornelia, Greece

My name is Cornelia Katrani. I am 46. Well, I will be turning 46 years old in a month. I am from Greece. I come from a suburb out of Athens.

When I lived in Greece, I was working for the Red Cross as a nursing auxiliary for quite a few years. And before that, when I was younger, late teens early twenties, I was working on the island during touristic season, which was great.

I first left Greece in 1994 on an exchange, on a European project to come here, similar to Erasmus but with a different name. The placement was in Northern Ireland for 3 months, but then I went home again. Well I wasn’t sure if I was going to live permanently or not. I came here in Christmas, December 1999.

[Did you come to NI with anybody?] No, I came here alone. I’ve been living in Northern Ireland for 15 years.

[Why did you decide to stay?] Because I met a man and I fell in love with him. Just now, the last years, I decided to go back to studying. I am a mature student doing anthropology and finishing; I’m in my final year.

[Do you know what you want to do with your degree?] Yes, I have a few ideas in my head. I am interested in conflict and how that affects young people, especially children, because I worked with children before, with learning disabilities, for 10 years before I went to my studies. Well I have to be pragmatic, and I’m thinking I speak French so I would be interested to go to Lebanon. There’s a lot of Palestinians there, I would be interested in going to Turkey, as there are a lot of refugees from Syria. And, we’ll see from there what happens afterwards.

[How many languages do you speak?] Well I only speak two languages and then my Greek, but it doesn’t count because it’s my mother tongue.

[What object did you bring today?] My mother used to read this, to me and my younger brother. I think it was the first view we had of what was happening in the world outside our front door. It’s got lovely photography, which is very vivid, and you can let your imagination go wild. This has very strong memories of my childhood, and when I felt happy and safe with my family. It’s important for me to pass it on, some of the information and storytelling, to friends and friends’ children, that is why I kept it all these years.