WASHINGTON D.C. - The 2017 Heritage America Program, sponsored by the National Hellenic Society and Manatos & Manatos, hosted 13 accomplished Greek-American students from across the country (including CA, UT, MI, MA, AL, PA, CT, NY, NJ, and VA) July 13-16 to Washington D.C.
Now in its second year, this unique and proprietary program reconnects college-aged Greek-American students with their roots, heritage, culture, and Hellenic identity through the prism of the American experience. Throughout the four-day program, students met with over 35 prominent Greek-Americans who will also serve as future mentors and career guides for Heritage America alumni.
Meetings included: at the White House with five senior Greek-Americans in the Administration; on Capitol Hill with three of the Greek-American Members of Congress and senior Greek-American staffers, as well as lunch with former US Senator Paul Sarbanes; with former senior US officials including the first US Director of National Intelligence and former Deputy Secretary State John Negroponte; former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Admiral James Stavridis (by Skype); former Governor and nominee for President of the United States Michael Dukakis (by phone); and with the Ambassador of Greece Haris Lalacos.
Students also had dinner and lunch with Greek-American journalists, administration officials and other leaders and met with businessmen Steve Yeonas and Baltimore Orioles COO John Angelos, who hosted the students at a baseball game in the owner's box.
Additionally, students received VIP tours of the US Capitol Building, the White House, the influence of Greece on architecture in Washington, DC, the Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Gallery, and the Harvard University Center for Hellenic Studies.
"This program has been a priceless gift. It has allowed me to see first hand how successful Greek-Americans have stayed true to their roots as they rose to the top of their fields," said Alexi Nikopoulos on her LinkedIn post. "I have gained insight from their journeys and plan to mirror them as I begin my own career. This experience has added fuel to the fire that burns deep inside of me, an unrelenting determination to keep my culture alive for future generations, the same fire that burns inside of each and every Greek-American I met during the four days I spent in Washington, D.C."
As an intern at Yale University Press, Nikopoulos chronicled her four-day experience. "We call ourselves Greek-Americans, with the adjective 'Greek' preceding 'American,' as if to pay respect to the fact that the second could not exist without the first, and to express the immense pride and appreciation we have for where we come from. You are living examples of how to wear the 'Greek' component of our identities proudly and simultaneously devote ourselves to the amazing nation we live in."
For a list of student participants and photos as well as the complete four-day schedule and notable Greek-American speakers, please visit the Heritage America Program at www.nationalhellenicsociety.org.