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University of Pittsburgh Celebrates Greek Culture

Greek Culture
The Cathedral of Learning, the tower at the University of Pittsburgh that houses the Nationality Rooms. The Greek Nationality Room will host a gala commemoration of the 80th anniversary of its founding in November. Credit: Joey Gannon /CC BY-SA 2.0

The Greek Nationality Room, established 80 years ago to celebrate Greek culture at the University of Pittsburgh, will be the site of an upcoming commemoration on November 5-7.

Established by local industrialists on November 7, 1941, the center is a celebration of all things Greek, commemorating the many contributions of Greek immigrants to the United States, consisting of 31 classrooms in the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning.

Now, their incredible zeal and hard work in the creation of the Center will be commemorated during a series of events that will be live-streamed from the Pennsylvania Hellenic Foundation’s website, here.

There will be a keynote speech and tribute by His Eminence Elpidophoros, the Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and speeches by Her Excellency Alexandra Papdopoulou, the ambassador of Greece to the US and other officials.

Dr. Nick Giannoukakis, a medical professor at the University of Pittsburgh, who is also the director of the American Hellenic Foundation of Western Pennsylvania, additionally told Greek Reporter that the families of the founders will also be present to commemorate the anniversary.

Earlier this bicentennial year for Greek Independence, as the nation and Greeks and philhellenes around the world celebrated the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the Greek War against the Ottoman Empire, Giannoukakis’ organization sponsored a series of lectures and events commemorating the ancestors of Pennsylvania Greeks who fought in the Revolution.

Over the last several years, in the run-up to the Bicentennial, the medical professor-turned genealogical sleuth uncovered a number of Pennsylvanian Greek-Americans who had no idea that their ancestors had fought in the Greek Revolution.

Greek Nationality Room celebrates Hellenic culture at University of Pittsburgh

The Greek Nationality Room is another way in which Giannoukakis and others commemorate Greek history and share it with the world.

In 1928, a group of energized students at the University of Pittsburgh stepped up to accept the challenge of creating the Greek Nationality Room, enlisting regional immigrants of Greek descent to join them in this challenge.

Over the next 15 years, the students achieved the unthinkable; in 1941, 80 years ago, the Greek Nationality Room became a reality.

Over the past 80 years, more than half a million students and visitors from all over the world have marveled at the Greek Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh, learning about the history of Greece and the first immigrants from Greece to Pennsylvania.

On the evening of Friday, November 5th, the center will celebrate and offer a tribute to those who served as the Greek Room’s major stewards over the past 50 decades and nurtured what the founders passed on.

Saturday, November 6th will be a celebration of those who founded and supported the Greek Nationality Room, from Archbishop Michael and Archbishop Athenagoras of the then Archdiocese of North and South America, who would soon become Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church, to Prime Minister Tsouderos of Greece, the Greek Royal Family, and Nikolaos Kalimerakis, (Nicholas Kalmer).

Led by His Eminence, Archbishop Elpidophoros, speakers will enlarge on Athenagoras’ vision to bring all humans together, as sisters and brothers, through the Hellenic virtue of philoxenia.

At the conclusion of that evening’s historical tribute and coming-together with our sister communities, The Digital Greek American Cultural Center of Western Pennsylvania will be unveiled.

Soon, anyone from anywhere in the world can come and learn about the history of the Greek-American community of Western Pennsylvania inside albums that contain more than 500 photos and more than 200 documents.

There will also be resources from which visitors can learn Greek, listen to Greece’s folk and modern music, and read our classic Greek and modern literature. One will even be able to walk — virtually — in all the large and small streets of large and small Greek cities and towns.

The Center will be open to the public, and anyone can contribute photos, documents, and video going forward. It will be a living vehicle, renewable, and renewing.

The events are co-sponsored by the Greek Nationality Room Committee, the American-Hellenic Foundation of Western Pennsylvania, the Pan-Cretan Association of America, and the European Art Center of Greece.

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