NHS Launches 2012 Heritage Greece Program In Cooperation with DEREE – The American College of Greece
WASHINGTON (June 18, 2012) — The National Hellenic Society (NHS), a foundation focused on the preservation of Hellenic heritage in America through the sponsorship of educational and charitable programs, launched its 2012 Heritage Greece program with two days of orientation in Washington, DC, June 12-13, announced NHS Chairman George Marcus. The two-week program, which runs from June 12-25, will provide fully-funded educational, first-time visits to Greece for students.
This year, 25 collegiate students from across the United States are participants in the program, which is patterned after “Birthright Israel.” Many will experience Greece for the first time in their lives as part of an immersion program designed to fortify the students’ respective knowledge, understanding and appreciation of Greek language, culture, and history.
“Our hope for these young Greek Americans is that they will connect with their Greek identity, discover the importance of Greek heritage, and share that experience with each other and with their student peer group in Greece,” Marcus said. “They will be in Greece during a very noteworthy time, and I’m sure it will be a tremendous learning experience as well.”
As part of orientation, the Embassy of Greece hosted the students for a reception on June 12 and embassy officials welcomed the students with inspirational remarks about the importance of visiting Greece and the experience that lies ahead. On June 13, the students toured Voice of America and witnessed live broadcasts going out around the world and were interviewed about their upcoming trip. In addition, they went to Capitol Hill to meet with the staffs of U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Shelley Berkley (D-NV) to learn about how congressional staffs function and the relevant issues of the day and to receive a VIP Capitol tour that included passes to the Gallery of the U.S. House of Representatives. The day concluded with tours of the U.S. Supreme Court, National Arboretum, and bus tour of the city. NHS Executive Director Timothy Maniatis, NHS Director of Programming Art Dimopoulos, Eve Geroulis, director of Marketing at The American College of Greece; and Mara Nisdeo, director of North America Recruitment for The American College of Greece, accompanied the students during their orientation.
NHS sponsors Heritage Greece in collaboration with DEREE – The American College of Greece, Europe’s largest and oldest American college. Because of its partnership with the university, which is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, participants will receive three academic credits that are readily transferable to the student’s home institution.
“DEREE – The American College of Greece is proud to collaborate with the National Hellenic Society to create a unique cultural and educational program connecting Greek-American college students to their Hellenic heritage,” said Nisdeo. “We look forward to welcoming the students to our campus and Greece this month.”
“Together with the university we are committed to transforming Heritage Greece into a comprehensive, large-scale program that will enable thousands of young Greek Americans to visit Greece for the first time, strengthening their ties to their ancestral land as well as relations between Greece and the United States,” Dimopoulos said.
NHS funds the two-week trip as a gift to the deserving participants. The only cost they will bear is travel to and from Washington, DC, the city from where the group departs for Greece. Eligibility for the program is open to college or university students of Hellenic ancestry between the ages of 18-26 with excellent academic credentials.
The program’s itinerary includes visits to important archaeological and religious sites, tours of the Greek countryside, spending time with a host Greek family, and visits to other Greek sites and participation in many cultural activities.
“We have created a very special program this year designed to immerse Greek-American students in Hellenic culture,” said Nisdeo. “Selected students will travel with Greek students to the Peloponnese, a Greek island, traditional villages, and archaeological sites. They will take a Greek cooking class, learn Greek dancing, experience an insider’s tour of the Greek parliament, and much more.”
Quantified Results Demonstrate Program’s Value
Heritage Greece is the only Greek American program that conducts a pre- and exit survey of its participants to measure the program’s effectiveness and impact on the students’ appreciation and understanding of their heritage and modern Greece. One of the student’s parents wrote, “What I couldn’t do in 20 years, the NHS did in two weeks time.”
Marcus added, “Our heritage, the values and ideals we were given served us so well and helped transform the Greek American community into what it is today—cherishing our heritage is saying thank you to our parents and forbearers—it is incumbent on us to pass this heritage on to our children, and we are at a danger point of no return if we fail to act.”