Maria Vasiliou, a mother of four in southern California, recently took part, alongside her family, in a new television series that is an experiment in how well we can adapt to and learn from the experiences of others in America.
Swapping not only homes but ways of life — including religious and social rituals and activities — the eighteen families taking part in the series agreed to leave everything they knew behind for the adventure which was meant to broaden their horizons and increase a sense of solidarity with one another.
Calling it an “amazing opportunity,” Vasiliou shares that she would like all Greek-Americans to watch the show, called Home Sweet Home, which starts on Friday October 15 on NBC, and follow along with them as they begin their experience in sharing their lives and culture with others.
Greek-American family says experience “a celebration of humanity”
The Greek-American mother, who works as a music teacher and who also owns a health supplement company, asked herself, “how through this experience can I make our circle more compassionate, more kind?” she tells Greek Reporter in an exclusive interview.
“As a mom, I struggle every day, wondering if I am doing a good enough job, raising good, compassionate, kind children,” she relates. Initially, she admits, “I was a little worried about them saying the wrong thing” on television in the midst of dealing with a family that was very unique their own tightly-knot Greek Orthodox family.
Explaining that they were sent to live in a nontraditional, same-sex African American home, Vasiliou was very gratified to find that her children took to their new environment and peers seamlessly. “Although we come from different backgrounds we all want the same thing — we all want to live happy, healthy, meaningful lives,” Vasileou explains with great feeling.
Staying for a total of one week at the “exchange home” not far from their own city in southern California, she says the experience for the Greek-American family was one that she “would like to share with everyone” and that despite all our differences it was “a celebration of humanity.”
“How interconnected we all are”
“We all need to take a moment to celebrate other peoples’ lives,” the busy mom says. “When we witness other peoples’ struggles — and even their celebrations”- that is when we learn how interconnected we all are.”
Home Sweet Home, created by Emmy award winner Ava Duvernay, premieres on Friday at 8 Eastern Time/7 Central on NBC. The show is like no other in that it takes families from different walks of life, including culture, religion, lifestyle, in Southern California and swaps their day-to-day lives.
Asked how her family had been chosen for the series, Vasiliou recalls to Greek Reporter that it all came about serendipitously as a result of music videos that her family created during the time of the coronavirus lockdown.
“My family was selected for our Greek heritage and religion,” she explains. “What I love about this show is that it’s for the whole family and it celebrates our differences while highlighting our similarities. Its all feel-good and no drama!” she says.
“My family and I are so proud to represent our Greek culture and faith in Episode 1. We would love for the Greek community to watch.”
As the show’s creators say, “Real families of different backgrounds experience a new way of life when they trade homes, stepping out of their comfort zones to discover each other’s similarities and celebrate their differences.”
Created by executive producer Ava DuVernay, Home Sweet Home challenges real families to trade homes, stepping out of their comfort zones to become fully immersed in a new way of life.
Be sure to watch the first episode as Vasiliou’s exchange family is visited by Yiayia and Pappou and even learns Greek dancing as part of their immersion into the culture of the Greek-American family.