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.
Following a delicious (and, needless to say, big) meal at Artopolis Café, where we met Greek-American professionals, it was time to prepare for the big event. It was what we were waiting for, as we all came together for the same purpose. Most of us helped out with the silent and live auctions at the gala, which were both successful in raising funds at the museum. The auction’s success came as no surprise given the wonderful prizes and the generosity of the purchasers. (Who wouldn’t want to have lunch with Nia Vardalos in Beverly Hills?).
After the auction and dinner, it was time for the featured performance of the gala, a live concert by Greek singer Anna Vissi. This concert was a perfect end to celebrate a successful fundraiser, as the performance proved to be very lively and well-liked by the entire audience. The enthusiasm of Anna Vissi and her band at the concert mirrored that of all of the HG alumni who had the chance to attend such a fun event. Although we were sad to leave each other following the mini-reunion, we became even more excited in anticipation to see our HG family once again in Las Vegas this October.