THE GREEK CONNECTION: During the hectic High School and demanding College
years, when students do part-time work as unskilled individuals, learning
the Greek Language and adhering to Hellenic Culture, are seen as a luxury
and somewhat irrelevant to the main struggle for success. This is why, much
depends on the family and the ability and willingness of parents to instill
very early, elements of Culture, Heritage, and Language. The Jesuits say:
"Give me the Child, to give you the Man".
Some parents take their children to Greece during the summer vacation. In
most places the Church is partially effective, during primary and secondary
education, but, without re-enforcement, its role is quickly attenuated in
later years (among high School Seniors and College Students). Most of our
young-like the young everywhere-do not attend Church regularly, and they
might go to Church on Christmas and Easter, in the latter case, until "Christos
Anesti" is pronounced and then hastily disappear. In places with a
Greek language School, the outlook is much better.
It must be stressed that impetus should come from parents, especially if
they are both or one of them, of Greek origin and that other incentives are
weak anyway, because the Greek Language, appears to the young as irrelevant
to their main push in life: "Upward Mobility". In contrast,
Spanish, French, German and even Chinese and Japanese Languages, appear
relevant and as an advantage to professional pursuits, because the countries
in question are sizable and influential in global economy. However, despite
all of this, maintaining the magnificent Greek language among our young, is
paramount and will be only partially reviewed here.
FUNCTIONS OF PRIMARY ORGANIZATIONS: Returning to efforts of maintaining
Language, Culture and Heritage among our young, it must be emphasized that
Greek-American Communities and Organizations, in this vast nation, are in
great need of developing systematic and sophisticated programs (Lectures,
Seminars, Book and Art exhibits, evening Classes, Music Collections, Movies,
tape-recordings, CD-ROM discs etc.) with emphasis on all three, Hellenic
Culture, Heritage, and Language.
Without such programs Hellenic Culture will slowly but inexorably
disappear in the coming decades of the next century. Similarly, many Jewish
Americans, for instance, believe that their own Community is in a course of
demographic suicide (1.6 births per mother and over 52% intermarriage).
Because the American Jews (like the Greek-Americans) fail to reproduce and
find it very difficult to hold their young within the faith, they appear to
face cultural extinction, despite their enormous success within American
There are a good number of excellent but parochial and narrow in scope
(First Level) Greek-American Organizations (determined by region of origin
in Greece) e.g. Arcadians, Messinians, Epirotans, Kythirians, Roumeliotes,
Macedonians and others. Their members gather at least annually for a grand
social event, such as a Dinner-Dance, with good food and a festive
atmosphere, during which not a single word is spoken about Culture, Heritage
and Language. There are no handouts, or pamphlets, or books, describing what
we have in terms of Culture and what needs to be done to preserve it.
Nothing is said about the need for career development programs for the
young, which could boost their success in society and could instill in them
elements of Hellenic Culture and Heritage.
Only a few of the (First and Second level) Organizations in big cities
such as Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago and areas of New Jersey,
have indeed adopted some Cultural events, e.g. lectures, seminars and
similar functions, but there are not enough to make a wide impact. The
message is this: we need greater sophistication with the active
participation of professionals and academicians, in order to pursue such
high quality activities.
Typically, most Organizations have weak financial support, except
probably for AHEPA and UHAC. The new slogan should be: "that there is
strength in Unity and that Unity of purpose and effort, will bring financial
support," which is indispensable for successful collective
undertakings. Finally, it is blatantly obvious that there is a crying need
for special programs for our young men and women, who are striving to
succeed and would enormously appreciate any help from our Community.
The few scholarships sponsored by individuals or societies are good but
not enough in numbers or amounts of money involved, to make a strong impact.
It is hoped, that such youth directed programs, might help our young to
realize, the significance of belonging to a Community of Americans and
Canadians, of Hellenic ancestry and to appreciate the value of Greek
Language, Culture and Heritage.