Welcome to Greece HG 2019

The beginning of it all…

The journey has begun for the 2019 Heritage Greece Program! This year, the National Hellenic Society’s signature program celebrates it’s 10th year bringing Greek-American students to Greece for a two-week journey of a lifetime. For the first time, the Hellenic Heritage Foundation of Canada has sponsored five Greek-Canadian students to join their Greek-American neighbors on this trip of a lifetime!

The NHS created the Heritage Greece Program to provide the opportunity for young Greek-American students to discover their Greek roots, immerse in the Greek culture, and be a part of a unique cross-continental experience with Greek student-peers at the American College of Greece. The gift of the HG program has brought life-long memories and friendships to 500 HG alumni; and the family keeps growing!

Every year, the countdown for HG begins months in advance, with planning, applications, preparations and an abundance of anticipation and excitement! On Saturday, June 8th, after two days in Washington D.C. with the NHS and newfound friends, the 65 Greek-North Americans arrived in Athens after their long trek across the Atlantic.

Welcome to Greece, HG 2019!

The participants made their way to the ACG residencies where the eager team of 2019 ACG peers awaited their arrival. Having spent the past weeks preparing for the program, the peers were ready to welcome their soon-to-be friends to their homeland. One of the most special aspects of HG is the opportunity for bonds and friendships to be built between young students from North America and Greece.

“Meeting people from the same heritage as mine is a very refreshing experience for me,” said Alexandros Vovidis, 2019 ACG peer. “Because the participants from North America live abroad, it makes me feel more connected to Greece when I see how much they love their Greek heritage. Seeing their love for Greece makes me love my culture even more.”

The 2019 ACG peers snap a group selfie moments before first meeting the HG 2019 participants

After gathering together and meeting the peers for the first time at the ACG residencies, the participants settled into their rooms and enjoyed their first meal outside on a beautiful Athenian night – starting the program the best way Greeks know how, with lots of food!

The next morning, everyone loaded the two charter buses for the first day’s adventure at Marina Floisvou. The first experience of the 2019 HG program was aboard an ancient Athenian Trireme warship. Together, the HG 2019 team, alongside members of the ACG Peer Alumni group rowed the ancient “three-rower” vessel. The beautiful wooden boat is an exact replica of the agile Mediterranean warships used during the 7th-4th centuries B.C, playing a vital role in the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars.

An afternoon spent rowing an ancient Athenian Trireme warship. Welcome aboard, HG 2019!

The day on the water was far from over, as the next stop was a tour of the infamous Georgios Averoff battleship, the flagship of the Royal Hellenic Navy, and the floating museum aboard! The #HG2019 group were guided by a Naval officer, showcasing the impressive Hellenic vessel in all of its historic glory.

“Group Photo!” HG2019, along with a Hellenic Navy Sailor, gathers in front of the Georgios Averoff battleship after touring the floating museum, and learning all about the flagship of the Royal Hellenic Navy.

With a great lunch together overlooking the beautiful marina, day one was one for the HG books! The HG team had their first experiences together and the bonds with one another, and with Greece, have easily started to form.

“As someone from a biracial family, and as someone who is also first generation on both my Greek and Chinese side, I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by rich and lovely cultures,” 2019 HG participant Athena Gordon stated after her first experiences in Greece. “I had no idea, however, about the unity, strength, and connection that exists in Greek communities, and being surrounded by such pride inspires me to be more proactive and proud of not only by Greek Heritage, but also any of my identities! It’s such a special feeling and I’m excited to keep that going in my return to America.”

#HG2019 is off to a running start, and we are ready for the many adventures to come…