The elementary school diploma she holds in one hand is dated June 23, 1967, grade “excellent” and conduct “very decent”, while the high school diploma in the other hand, with a grade of 19.8 (excellent) and conduct “excellent”, has a date June 24, 2021.
Fifty-four years after graduating from elementary school, Sultana Partali has every reason to smile broadly after she managed to make her childhood dream come true, proving to the world that when you want something very much, it is never too late to achieve it.
The 76-year-old got her high school diploma this year as a child, and even entered the process of participating in the national exams. “I gave pan-Hellenic ones and my teacher told me that I did well and not to worry. She will complete my computer, when the time comes “, explains to APE-MPE Ms. Partali, who may have sat at the desks to take lessons in ancient, history or sociology, but she is the one who finally delivered life lessons!
“I graduated this year. “The two years were difficult with the coronavirus but I managed it”, she says and begins to narrate the reasons that kept her away from the desks all these years.
A high school diploma in… waiting five and a half decades
Born and raised in Nea Chalkidona, Thessaloniki, Sultana Partali, daughter of Anastasios Papakonstantinou from Giannitsa and Marika Tsereli, finished primary school dreaming that she would continue school since her thirst for learning was great. Dreams that were to remain unfulfilled for a number of decades since “the years were difficult, different”, as she explains to APE-MPE.
“I finished elementary school, from the beginning to the end with excellent. But I did not continue because I had to go to the neighboring village, in Koufalia, and I needed tickets. In addition to tickets I also wanted books to be able to read. Then we bought the books, the state did not give anything. My father was a worker, my mom was not working, we were three children. You understand… “, he says, looking back on those years.
“My parents did not have the opportunity to send me to school and then there was no interest from the village authorities to help a child with abilities. What was five drachmas to go and come back? “But they did not send me.… I tried to continue school next year but again it did not work out”, he notes. He remembers, in fact, how angry he was when he could not do what is now taken for granted: to continue school.
“A rolling stone does not grow grass,” says a proverb. So the then young Sultana did not sit idly by. He learned the arts – “and seamstress and hairdresser and I learned many other things”, he says – he worked in the fields, in a nursery but also in the kilns that made bricks, while at the same time he was stealthily looking at the books of the neighbor's children.
At the age of twenty, she married her companion in life to this day, Savva Partali, and as she says, she entered “a pleasant family, with happy people”. It was like that, her passion for letters but also the worm that devoured her because she could not finish school, that when her little brother-in-law had to go to Italy for a year before continuing his studies in dentistry here, he did everything , what she could with her husband to support him.
The years passed, she and her husband created a beautiful family with two children, Panagiotis and Tassos, and later they changed their professional orientation and became involved in the beverage trade in Thessaloniki. “Until I retired, my husband and I had a wine cellar. “I retired as a professional,” she says, proud of what she has accomplished in her professional life. “Whatever I caught in my hand, I did it with great responsibility and I wanted to do it perfectly. I was dedicated to my work “, he underlines.
The return to the desks
She showed the same dedication that she had in her professional life at school, when a few years ago, she decided to sit at the desks again. A family affair brought her and her husband to Drama, where Sultana Partali, a sociable and restless woman, met many people, including a banker, who pushed her to enroll in a second-chance school. “This friend told me about school and I had my high school diploma with me by chance. So I wrote, I did two years in high school of the second chance and then I went to the evening GEL Drama. I was devoted to my letters, I was an excellent student “, says the 76-year-old, who did not stop reading for a moment until she holds in her hands the coveted diploma.
“I always had the books on the table and when I had time I read. I always wanted to go to school read and I listened a lot to my teachers. I did not feel that I was big and that they should respect me. “I felt that I was like the other students and I had to listen carefully and be impeccable”, she emphasizes and thanks both the principal and her teachers who throughout her studies, “took great care of me, took me by the hand and they set me on the path of knowledge. “
“I prayed that I would be strong enough to complete this project that I started. I always had it in the back of my mind and I always had a big complaint “, confesses Ms. Partali, who now lives in Lakkoma with her husband, her most valuable companion, as she says, in this different journey of life. “My children also encouraged me, but especially if it were not for my husband I could not do it. She would take me and bring me from school “, she explains, speaking with words of love and respect for the man who always stands by her side. In fact, she says she is sure he will support her even if she finally manages to get through the door of the university.