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Cultivating Love of Home Through Public Radio

Cultivating Love of Home Through Public Radio

Written by
Andreas Souvaliotis
on
February 26th, 2019

Andreas Souvaliotis talks about how listening to the radio as a newly arrived Canadian immigrant instilled in him a sense of patriotism for his new country.

Cultivating Love of Home Through Public Radio

Photo: Guillaume Jaillet

Patriotism. A beautiful, special word, created once upon a very distant time by my Greek ancestors. In its pure and uncorrupted form it simply means “love of home.”

I’ve always bragged about being the proudest and most patriotic Canadian by choice. I was drawn to this country as a lonely escapee from another world—as a marginalized late teenager filled with hope, appetite, and trepidation. I grew up gay and autistic in a place and time that offered no allowances for difference, one of twentieth-century Europe’s most homogeneous societies. I felt like a complete outsider in my birth country and I craved finding a home; I wanted a country that wanted me for who I was, a place that embraced me and allowed me to truly own who I was, instead of it just owning me.

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Right after my eighteenth birthday, as soon as I had the freedom to make my own life choices, I packed up my bags, bid farewell to my family and nest, and moved literally and figuratively to the other end of the world: I chose to plant my Canadian roots in the giant, quiet, friendly, faraway province of Manitoba.

Throughout my early years in my new homeland, on long and lonely Prairie drives, I inhaled my new country through the radio in my car.

Throughout my early years in my new homeland, on long and lonely Prairie drives, I inhaled my new country through the radio in my car. I gained so much pride, absorbed knowledge, and boosted my genuine patriotism for my chosen home, just by making CBC radio my everyday driving companion. Sometimes I would even tune in to Radio-Canada, on purpose, to stretch my comprehension and make myself feel like I belonged even more. At night, I would let Knowlton Nash gently guide me through the news of the land and the ways we stood out as the most inclusive, most diverse, most open, and most progressive human society in the world.

My Canadian pride and patriotism was so fundamentally shaped by what was coming across those airwaves. All that love of home, all that unique sense of ownership, ended up shaping my role and my place in this country. That special pull I felt from “owning” my Canada ultimately steered me into a career built around positive social impact. I found it impossible to resist the deeper lure of working to make the world a better place.

As I built a succession of social ventures—including Carrot, a wellness app that motivates Canadians to make better everyday health and lifestyle choices—I felt that unique patriotic joy that comes from devoting my mind, my energy, and my business muscle to the betterment of the society that had given me so much. That’s what makes me feel like a real builder, a real owner of my chosen country.

I love life’s full circles. Once upon a time my Canadian patriotism was shaped and deepened by the CBC on those long Prairie drives. Now it’s my turn to help shape the lives of so many others across our country.

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