A record 50 Greek American college students participated in the National Hellenic Society’s 2015 Heritage Greece Program (HG). The students are largely from interfaith and intercultural families with relatively little exposure to their Hellenic heritage, roots and culture. During their 2 weeks together the students share a cultural and educational immersion experience with 18 of their peers from the American College of Greece (ACG), NHS’ partner in the HG Program. The record number of participants is thanks to supporting partnership grants from the Elios Charitable Foundation and the American Hellenic Council of California, the Behrakis Family Scholarship and Tim Maniatis Scholarship in honor of NHS’ late Executive Director, Timothy J. Maniatis.
“Am I Dreaming?” Sums up one student’s impressions about the remarkable odyssey of self-discovery of Hellenic heritage, culture and identity shared with new life-long friends both here and in Greece.
The HG experience starts in Washington where students are hosted at a reception at AHEPA’s HQ, greeted by Embassy officials from the Greek and Cypriot delegations, Hellenic American organizational leaders, NHS members, and guests that including several of the students’ parents and family. The following day students meet with members of Congress, congressional staff and vist national landmark sites in the nation’s Capitol before leaving for Greece accompanied by the ACG team.
The next two weeks consist of a whirlwind of experiential learning activities, visits to world heritage sites and sharing insights with students from ACG under the guidance of top professors and scholars (Itinerary). The HG Program is described as a life-changing experience of connections.
HG Alum attending a reunion at NHS Heritage Weekend & Classic
The journey lasts beyond their return from Greece as they transition to the NHS HG Alumni Network. NHS stays involved with the students as mentors and career guides for those in the workforce.
The 2015 HG Program is in its sixth year of operations. A leading sociologist has studied the HG Program’s impact annually. The results will be compiled and published in a comprehensive report detailing the HG Program’s long lasting effects on the students and include parent’s observations.
The NHS continues to work alongside other organizations to expand the number of students to help turn the tide of complacency surrounding the effective preservation of Hellenic heritage in relevant, meaningful and effective ways. NHS is determined to work with other organizations to effectively reach mutual goals and objectives in a spirit of collaboration and consensus. The future is indeed NOW!