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ATTRACTING OUR YOUNG TO HELLENIC CULTURE AND HERITAGE (cont'd)

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 society.

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.

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