A day filled with learning…

On Monday, June 10th the day got off to an early start for HG 2019 as it was the first of six Greek language classes and cultural seminars to come! Modern Greek has evolved from the ancient Greek language and has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language. The rich history of the Greek language is at the heart of the Greek culture, and throughout the next two weeks, the Heritage Greece participants get the opportunity to learn the basics, or advance their knowledge of the Greek language.

After her first language class, HG 2019 participant Elena Afendoulis reflected on her experience: “I have only heard Greek a little bit because my parents, YiaYia and Papou speak it, so I know a few words,” Jamie said. “Now that we are learning the language, I am so excited to be able to use it more while I am here in Greece, and also to be able to use it when I go home and speak with my parents and my family.”

A morning of Greek language classes was met by an afternoon for the first Greek cultural seminar with Dr. Gregory Katsas. The culture of Greece is rich with unique and beautiful traditions built on history, food, practices, family, religion and beyond. Dr. Katsas took the HG 2019 team on a journey through the cultural context of their heritage, building more excitement to experience the culture first hand in the days to come!

Monday evening began with a beautiful welcome reception and dinner on the lawn of the picturesque ACG campus, and finished with a traditional dance performance by the Lykeio Ellinidon. Dr. Dimitrios Andreou, The American College of Greece VP of Administration and Enrollment, and Dr. Matilda Chatzipanagiotou, Program Manager of the Heritage Greece Program, welcomed the class of 2019 to Greece and to the Heritage Greece family with plenty of “φιλοξενία,” or filoxenia, the Greek word for hospitality. Words of excitement were shared for the 10th annual year of Heritage Greece memories.

The Lykeio Ellinidon, a dancing school founded in 1911, followed the reception with the spectacle of traditional Greek dancing. Kallifoi Parren, a significant figure in Greek feminism, founded the Lykeio Ellinidon with the vision to preserve the traditional Greek culture, and has continued to do just that.

For Greek-Canadian participant Jamie Elsey, dancing with the Lykeio Ellinidon brought memories of her childhood spent learning modern dance. “I grew up in a Greek-Canadian family, and we would Greek dance together sometimes, but I have never gotten to just sit and watch the traditional Greek dancing by professionals,” Jamie explained. “I grew up dancing jazz and other modern types of dancing, and although the dance I used to practice is very different than the Greek dancing, I found so many similarities in that all forms of dance are a way to express oneself. It was so awesome to be able to join in and dance all together.”

For participant Maria Korkos, Greek dancing with her HG family reminded her of her family back home in the States: “It was so much fun to Greek dance with everyone tonight, and it reminded me of great memories I have with my dad when we would attend Greek weddings together,” Maria reflected. “Watching everyone dance made me feel happy because it really reminded me of my family and the memories we have together.”

The Heritage Greece 2019 family shared the night with the ACG community, dancing together with the Lykeio Ellinidon around the campus to traditional music. A day filled with lots of learning came to an end and HG shared “kefi” – not a word, but a feeling described in the Greek language for the joyful, passionate and happy “Spirit of Greece!”

Dr. Matilda Chatzipanagiotou, Program Manager of the Heritage Greece Program, welcomes the Heritage Greece participants to Greece at the Welcome Reception on Monday evening.

The Lykeio Ellinidon dancers lined up and ready to perform traditional Greek dances.

Heritage Greece participants dance together with the Lykeio Ellinidon dancers on the lawn at The American College of Greece. Dancing is in the Greek blood!


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