Our Friendship, Culture and Nostalgic Connections

Dec 19, 2023

When Patricia and Alexandra were matched through the program, they quickly discovered shared experiences in their journeys to Australia, as well as similarities in their immigrant stories, sense of identity and cultural heritage. This bond allowed them to comfortably share memories and stories about their life back in Greece, celebrating their cultural roots.

Patricia and Alexandra’s friendship illustrates the significance of cultural considerations in volunteer programs like this. Despite spending considerable time in Australia, seniors from diverse backgrounds often encounter isolation and a feeling of disconnect due to language and cultural barriers. In Great Company is devoted to finding the right connections to form a natural friendship that can provide a genuine sense of belonging.

Meet Patricia & Alexandra

Patricia, a retiree residing in Dural, NSW, came to Australia at the young age of 18 from the Peloponnese region of Greece. She loves beautiful gardens, sewing garments for her grandchildren and herself, and watching a thriller on the telly with her afternoon tea.

Her volunteering story began with a desire to reconnect with the elderly, when a friend referred her to In Great Company.

Alexandra was referred to In Great Company by her daughter, who recognised the importance of having a Greek-speaking volunteer for her mother. With Alexandra’s limited English, she had difficulties connecting with people beyond her immediate family and friends. Her daughter saw the need for a cultural and language-specific connection to enhance Alexandra’s social engagement.

We discovered a perfect match for Alexandra in Patricia, even though they lived over an hour apart. Fortunately, they were open to initiating conversations over the phone, and to everyone’s delight, they formed an immediate bond. As their friendship grew, Patricia decided to visit Alexandra in person.

Their first meeting marked by laughter and shared experiences, confirmed a genuine connection. Now, they try to meet at least once a month and maintain regular phone calls between visits.

What makes your connection so special for you?


“I came to Australia when I was 18, and it was too far to travel to Greece to spend time with my old relatives. Since my husband passed away, my daughters live nearby but I live on my own. Alexandra is originally from Cyprus and born in Egypt, but I feel like she is a kindred soul, we have a lot of common experiences since we both came here at a very young age.

Visiting Alexandra brings back memories of my old family, I feel like I am visiting an auntie. We enjoy talking about the old days, reminiscing about Greece, and sharing our love for the culture and society back then. It’s a nice change from my routine, it gets me out of my comfort zone and pushes me to explore a different part of Sydney.”


“We connected instantly over the phone, sharing laughter and jokes right away. We are both friendly with similar personalities, open with our emotions. Although Patricia has a family, like me, they are busy with their own lives. We enjoy talking to each other, and going out together, exploring the local area, often visiting my favourite cafés.”

What do your visits look like?


“Our in-person visits are always exciting. I cook the day before and keep it in the freezer and I also take some biscuits for tea. Sometimes we take a little walk or spend time in the garden. We sit on her porch at the back and have a chat about our families. She tells me about her life, and we look at pictures.”


“A few months ago, my daughter drove me to visit Patricia and her daughters, her grandkids, and their friendly little neighbour who came over to say hello. We sat outside, enjoying coffee, cake, nibbles, and salad. It was a delightful time, and I really enjoyed myself.”

What have you learned through this experience?


“I can observe what aging gracefully looks and feels like when you’re on your own. Spending time with Alexandra has given me insight into the experience of being an older person. This has led me to greater acceptance of what lies ahead, and through these interactions, I can better prepare myself for the future.


“I am delighted whenever Patricia visits or calls. When we meet, it’s like greeting an old friend—we share hugs and kisses. Our time together is filled with joy, laughter, and pleasant conversations. We understand each other well, as we both grew up in the old days, when life was different.”

How does cultural diversity impact the experience of loneliness among older individuals?


“Australia has been our home for a long time, where we’ve spent most of our adult lives and raised our children. While we’ve created a life here, there’s always a longing for family and relatives in our native countries. This is what I can share with Alexandra, she is someone who understands me and that is special. We can confide in each other and feel heard, we can feel understood.

I didn’t anticipate that this volunteering experience would help me discover a new sense of culture and identity, along with finding an invaluable friend outside of my family. I would highly recommend it to anyone thinking about it. One day, we will also be in our older years, and it would be comforting to have someone visit us. Giving back is a two-way street — as you offer support, you also receive it in return.”

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