My name is Katerina Zachari and I am the founder of Lato.
I was born in noisy Athens, in beautiful Greece. I have studied Philology, Laographie & Anthropology, History, Archaeology & History of Art at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. I took my first professional steps preparing students for their introductive examinations in Greek Universities and tutoring children of immigrants who needed to follow Greek school. That was love on first sight: to discover your language further than the limits you imagined to exist, to transfer your Greek language and your Greek culture to other people and to accept their language and their culture as a life’s lesson.
Since 1995, I have worked in Hellenic American University, multinational companies, Embassies and cultural centres, doing always the same thing with the same passion. My students were expats, executives, diplomats and often their families and children. I taught Greek on a professional level, so fast-paced that a diplomat or business executive could follow meetings and participate in them after six months and at the same time as a game through songs and tales. So I knew the rules of this profession at every level. That is why today I am proud to say that my students learned from me Greek and I learned from them something very important: to love multiculturality.
Since 2013 I live in Amsterdam, in the green Netherlands. Here you experience multiculturality every day and Dutch people love my country and admire her civilization. From the first moment I was enchanted by the way, people wanted to come close to the Greek language and culture. My life here helped me to take my second very important lesson: no knowledge of the language can be obtained without contact with the culture of the place, nor the opposite.
The best proof for this is the children of mixed marriages who live here years long. Most of the times when these children go back to Greece they feel detached. The partial knowledge of the language they may have is unable to fill the cultural vacuum which created through the intensive exposure to the Dutch element, through school and of course the local habits. Saint Vassilis seems good, but Sinterklaas is more “gezellig”! The parents are trying, but the routine absorbs always so much of their time! On the contrary, this is not a problem for expats’ children who may don’t talk so good the language but their life in a Greek environment helps them to create a better social and cultural background.
Then I met many more Dutch… I was surprised by their passion for Greece! It is really strange to see people so much interested to learn about Greece and so enthusiast for everything new they learn when at the same time their knowledge about the country doesn’t go further than one or two places or foods. That worked as a “food for thought”… An entire culture seems like nonexistent because -unfortunately, or fortunately- the tourism industry left it out by the trade model is created. Because true Greece is not what one gets to know through the tourist guides. This Greece is just like the Holland of the hash, the windmills and the red light district. The purpose is certainly understood and respected – in part -.
All these conclusions were combined in one idea: Lato. And with hard work, this idea was turned into reality. Lato is a private initiative which was born and motivated by love: our love and the love of the people of this country for Greece. This love and passion for Greek Culture, Greek Language and what we do is our “recipe” for success. Thank you all for your love and interest in our work.