BY TIM CLARK, HG 2013, NORTH CAROLINA REGIONAL CO-CHAIR
This past April the Heritage Greece Alumni in North Carolina held our first organized meeting as a chapter. For our kickoff event in this region we met at Kipos, a Greek restaurant located in downtown Chapel Hill. As most of us were spread across the different years of Heritage Greece this was a great chance to connect and forge new and lasting relationships with each other based on our shared experiences.
It was wonderful to have the opportunity to come together, but more importantly to be able to reinforce the idea that Heritage Greece does not end once you return from Greece. The alumni that were present ranged all the way from the inaugural trip to the most recent trip back to the beautiful place we all share roots to.
BY KENDRA SCRUGGS, HG 2014 www.kendrascruggs.com
I‘ve been passionate about the environment for as long as I remember, but it wasn’t until college that I realized it was something that I wanted to further integrate into my life. While teaching myself more about living sustainably, I simultaneously started working in retail, and it was then that I discovered how interested I am in fashion, more specifically, sustainable fashion. Sustainable fashion encompasses fashion that puts sustainability at their forefront by reducing waste, using recycled fabrics, reducing water consumption, using low energy manufacturing methods, and the like. Sustainable fashion can also include fair trade fashion, sourcing material responsibly, as exploitation is a significant problem within the industry.
The importance to turn to sustainable fashion is supported by the staggering waste and pollution statistics attributed to the fashion industry. Greenpeace has noted that it takes 2,700 liters of water
to make just one t-shirt; that an estimated 400 billion square meters of textile are produced annually, of which 60 billion square meters are left on the cutting room floor; that three out of four garments will end up in landfills or be incinerated; and that hazardous chemicals used in manufacturing end up in water pipe discharges, as well as emissions in air and solid waste. In 2011, Greenpeace launched a
Detox campaign to challenge companies to become more transparent about their manufacturing processes and to remove hazardous chemicals from all steps of production by 2020, with the hope that this will reduce toxic water pollution around the world.
BY ALBERT SCERBO, HG 2014
In the 1997 film GATTACA, Ethan Hawke lives in a futuristic world where genetic testing and editing allows parents to ensure that their children will be born without the risk of serious hereditary genetic disorders. Nervous parents are able to secure a future where their children are not at risk for heart disease and can even ensure that their children might grow up to be Olympic champions.
In March, NHS’s Boston chapter hosted a talk by Dr. Robert C. Green, Director of the G2P program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who suggested that not only is this sci-fi world possible, it’s actually already here. The Genomes to People program (G2P) – a joint initiative between Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical University and Partners Healthcare – conducts research around the medical, behavioral and economic outcomes associated with the implementation of genomic medicine.
BY ALEXANDRA PAPOUTSIS, HG 2017
We come from a people that live by the water. The mountains are daringly beautiful and cascade into
the sky to tower over everyone. But they are not monstrous, they are scaled to perfection
with low towering plants to show off the beauty and shape of the mountain. The houses are clustered and scattered and never overbearing. They all have little orange rooftops. The water extends into forever and is flat and gorgeous, and in the distance you can still see the next mountain. Pictures will never describe what I am trying to explain.
By NICOLE VOURNAZOS, HG 2010
This year, I am excited to announce that we have launched a peer-to-peer mentoring program for the Heritage Greece (HG) students. The goal of the program is to create assets within the HG community. Every first Sunday of the month, HG alumni “mentors” have 30-minute Google hangouts (video chats) with other HG alumni. Mentors offer open office hours to discuss topics such as class schedules, resumes, and the internship and full-time recruiting process.
Potential questions include:
Mentors range from pediatric residents to investment bankers to MBA/MPH students. HG students can participate in as many open office hours as they would like.
A big thank you to our mentors for volunteering their time. We hope to continue expanding the program by adding mentors across a broader spectrum of industries.
BY NICHOLAS AMOROSO, HG 2012
One of our ongoing initiatives is the Frank S. Kamberos Oral History Project with the National Hellenic Museum (NHM) in Chicago (available here). For those that are not familiar with the Oral History Project, it is an initiative created by the NHM with the purpose of preserving the history of Greek Americans by collecting the recorded interviews and memoirs of individuals and/or groups. Persons of Greek descent, the spouses, or relatives of Greeks are all invited to tell their story.
Over last fall’s Heritage Weekend in Las Vegas, we were able to capture four interviews with members of the NHS and have collected six interviews to date. We currently have four sets of recording equipment with one set located in each of the following locations: east coast, mid-west, and west coast. We are seeking out individuals interested in conducting oral histories.
If you are interested in conducting an interview or would like more information, you can contact Nick Amoroso or Laura Calamos. More information about the Frank S. Oral History Project can be found on the NHM website.
BY MARINA STELMACK, HG 2016
Since I was a little girl, I have assisted my γιαγιά and παπού with their acquisition of the English language, while they simultaneously taught me how to read, write, and speak in Greek. As my grandparents learned English, and while I learned Greek, I not only witnessed our successes, but I also noticed our linguistic struggles. Our struggles, especially, elicited a spark and calling within me to help others learn English.
A month before I left for Heritage Greece, I was afforded the opportunity to do classroom observations at the Hazleton Area Middle School in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. In recent years, big corporations, such as Amazon, have opened warehouses in Hazleton, which has caused many job-seekers of different racial and ethnic backgrounds to move into the area. Prior to this, Hazleton was not a place of great diversity; however, today the Hazleton Area School District documents over 1,500 English language learners, also known as ELLs.
I was beyond excited when I found out that I would be observing in both seventh and eighth grade classrooms during my two weeks in Hazleton. Because I am an English Education major with an ESL Certificate, I was able to observe in both literature classes and in ESL (English as a Second Language) classrooms.
BY NICOLE VOURNAZOS, HG 2010
I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since we have all seen each other! As I scan the crowd, I see lots of familiar faces. It seems like it was yesterday when we were all in Greece together: Cynthia was laying the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Alexa was helping me practice my Greek, and Noël and I were exploring the beach. Now, here we are seven years later.
There are many new friends in the crowd as well: friends from past year’s reunions. These are my new parea! These are the parea I have met through listening to speakers talk about our proud history of Greece or through working on the oral history project for the National Hellenic Museum. And it doesn’t matter that we only just met, as I get overwhelmed with questions: how are your brothers? How is California? And, perhaps my favorite, when are you coming over for dinner?
These are the exceptional friends I have met and bonded with through each year’s reunion. This year was no exception.In this year’s activity, we were split into teams and tasked with building the largest statute out of spaghetti (no easy feat!). If someone looked at us from afar, they’d think we had grown up with each other and known each other for years (which I can now proudly say that some of us have). Another reunion goes by and our friendships continue to grow!
With this in mind, I want to share our renewed mission: “We are the Heritage Greece Alumni Network, a distinguished association of young Greek American students and graduates that participated in the NHS Heritage Greece Program. We serve as ambassadors of Hellenic heritage by supporting the expansion of Heritage Greece and other programs that promote Hellenism and create rewarding opportunities for HG Alumni. Tobe part of the HG Alumni is to be part of the NHS family...”
As I took my seat in a courtyard beneath the Acropolis, I can honestly say that I had no idea what was in store for me. The play was just about the last thing on my mind as reﬂecting on the last (and the best) two and a half weeks of my life. How could it be over? It seems like just yesterday I was at the Welcome “Barbeque,” meeting the peers that would quickly become some of my best friends. I simply could not imagine going back to my life, so far away from anyone who had been on this life-changing journey with me.
The lights slowly dimmed and Socrates Now began. Immediately, I was enraptured by the performance. As I looked around, I saw about 70 of my new closest friends, and I began to think, “This is what brought us here. Our ancestors were revolutionary thinkers, they changed the world through mathematics, philosophy, and sciences, and here we are, thousands of years later, so what should stop us from doing the same?” Over the last two and a half weeks, I learned that I am surrounded by incredibly bright minds. It became clear that we were all chosen to take part in the Heritage Greece program for a variety of reasons including our creativity, ingenuity, and intelligence.
This past May, Heritage Greece alumni had the opportunity to visit Chicago and volunteer at the National Hellenic Museum’s annual Gala. As the National Hellenic Society is a supporter of the museum’s initiatives, NHS members and HG Alumni were involved with the preparation and execution of the fundraiser. After we arrived Friday evening, the ﬁrst destination of our mini-reunion was a nighttime comedy show in the heart of the city. This show was our ﬁrst chance to see one another after months apart. On reunions such as this trip, my HG family extends as I not only have the chance to see close friends from my own Heritage Greece trip, but also from previous years’ trips, extending my Greek friend group and network even more. Despite only meeting each other for a short period of time, we all bonded over our common experiences and similar memories of Greece, as we all expressed our enthusiasm for the program and a desire to visit Greece again someday.
The next day, we embarked on a private tour of the National Hellenic Museum. Having never been to Chicago before, this tour was a chance for me to see the museum for the ﬁrst time and learn more about the organization we all travelled to assist. The featured exhibit we saw was “Transcending Boundaries: The Art of Anthony Quinn,” featuring information about the life of Anthony Quinn and multiple sculptures by the artist. One part of the exhibit even showed the workshop wherein he created his art. Of course, one of the highlights pointed out to us were the scenes and photos of Anthony Quinn starring in Zorba the Greek. It was amazing to see how someone who was not of Greek descent was able to embody Greek culture so well, as he cared so deeply about it, becoming Greek in spirit. His example serves as encouragement to the rest of us to value our heritage. Another exhibit, entitled “The Greek Story in America,” featured photographs of early Greek immigrants and their businesses, as well as the history of the Greek Orthodox Church in the U.S., furthering our education about how our heritage transcended mainland Greece.