BARBARA ALIPRANTIS, storyteller, communitarian, inspiration

by Bernie Libster

"Barbara has redefined bilingual storytelling and given us much to think about--new ways to listen to our colleagues, students, their parents, and our own families."-- Dr. John Spiridakis, St. Johnís University

You donít have to be Greek to be a storyteller but when your ancestral memory includes Homer, Plato, Aesop and Nikos Kazantzakis (who wrote The Last Temptation of Christ and Zorba the Greek), itís not surprising if you feel the impulse.

The woman the storytelling community--especially the international community that is Queens--knows as Barbara Aliprantis was born Varvara ("stranger") Arianoutsos in the fishing village of Naoussa, on the Greek island of Paros, in the middle of the Aegean Sea. In her memory there was a yiayia, a grandmother, in every house, and she thought they were all hers.

At the age of 2 Ĺ she left her beloved home--under protest, she claims--when her family left to join her father in America. "I remember the day as though it was yesterday," Barbara said. "I remember crying and being in the arms of my grandmother, Harikilia, sitting on a donkey. My sister Calypso was sitting on another donkey with another yiayia. My mother was also on a donkey. She was incredibly sad." A visit to her home village in 1993 bore out the accuracy of Barbaraís memory; one of her neighbors, a young child back then, remembers the day and corroborates the details. Since that return, Barbara has made an annual visit to "refresh her roots."

Barbara and NYCís traveling/storytelling troubadour Bobalooo Basey tell thought provoking stories from around the world, that foster the value of honesty, friendship, courage, hope and love for all living things.

Photo by Eric Antinitus