Dozens of Greek American students are visiting Greece through the Heritage Greece Program, a two-week cultural and educational odyssey that connects them to their Hellenic roots.
The first group of Greek American students arrived on June 10 and the second group will arrive on July 1.
The Heritage Greece Program is an educational and cultural immersion experience shared with students from The American College of Greece (ACG) in Athens. The college, also known as Deree, is located at Agia Paraskevi, a leafy suburb in north Athens.
The program is developed by the National Hellenic Society (NHS) as part of its mission to celebrate, preserve and disseminate Hellenic heritage in the United States. In 2019, the Hellenic Heritage Foundation (HHF) of Canada sponsored the first complement of Greek Canadian student participants.
The focus is to maintain Greek culture for the next generation
“Many of the students have never been to Greece. We offer them the experience of going to Greece and connecting with Greek students at the campus of Deree.”
The goal is to reconnect the participants with their heritage, roots, language, history, and traditions. They have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore their culture and learn about the ancient past within the prism and context of modern Greece.
“They are interacting daily with Greek students. This helps in making them understand better the Greek culture and their peers in Greece. They go out together, they eat together, they shop together, they learn the everyday experiences of living in the country,” Behrakis said.
“There is something special about going to the country and experiencing what the country has to offer. The ancient sites, the history, the cuisine, the landscape, a lot of things that people at a young age may find appealing when they go to Greece,” he added.
Heritage Greece a gift to Greek American students
Heritage Greece is a gift from the NHS to American students of Hellenic descent, comprising tailor-made educational and cultural activities that make for an impactful, immersive experience.
The itinerary includes an insider’s perspective of some of the classical world’s leading museums and archeological and historical sites.
The cultural component includes a broad array of activities ranging from Greek language classes to dance, cooking and experiential learning in the field.
The Heritage Greece experience is shared with a peer group of ACG students. Together the students explore Hellenic heritage, culture and their roots while developing long-lasting bonds with one another. Alumni of the program have described Heritage Greece as a life-changing experience.
Heritage Greece participants become part of the Heritage Greece Alumni Network. The NHS provides career advancement guidance, mentorship and the opportunity to stay engaged in NHS programs, events and be part of the NHS network.
The Program is designed to keep Hellenic heritage and Greek identity vibrant, relevant and inclusive.