When I was originally thinking of who I would be interested in talking to for this project, I knew that I wanted to talk to someone who could also teach me about their own community in Des Moines. Coming from a Greek family back in Chicago, but never having sought out the Greek community in Des Moines, I figured this project would be the perfect opportunity for me to learn more.

I first contacted Father Basil at the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, just down the street from Drake, and he soon put me in contact with Mrs. Karthan. Before going through the interview process, Mrs. Karthan was kind enough to invite me to an event at the church the day before, a special meeting of the two Hellenic philanthropic organizations in the community; the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) and The Daughters of Penelope. I also attended church the morning before our interview, and got to talk to a few members of the congregation after the service. Although all of this occurred before I asked Mrs. Karthan a single question, being able to interact with the incredibly welcoming Greek community was a great experience in and of itself.

Des Moines, Iowa

The entirety of the narrative that follows is told through Mrs. Karthan’s voice and uses her words from our interviews. Mrs. Karthan tells us about the wars she experienced as a child, her journey to the U.S., her philanthropic work, and much more. I hope that you enjoy reading her stories as much as I enjoyed hearing them.



Childhood on the Island of Samos