Preserving Greek Heritage Workshop at the 2024 Clergy-Laity Congress

by | Jul 5, 2024 | Greek Diaspora

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In a candid and often humorous workshop, Director of Greek Education Dr. Anastasios Koularmanis, together with Assistant Director Rev. Protopresbyter Gregory Stamkopoulos, explained some of the strategies employed by their department in fostering cultural identity and community cohesion. Questions and suggestions, buoyed by good-natured conversation and colorful personal anecdotes from presenters and participants alike, made the session a particularly enjoyable one.

“The Church is the only vehicle in the United States that promotes the Greek language— other than the home,” reminded Koularmanis, while Fr. Stamkopoulos reiterated the shared values of Orthodoxy and Hellenism. He defined a “Hellene” as one who partakes in Greek education and Hellenic values, rather than one possessing a particular ancestry. Greek School is not only about the language, but about bringing young people “closer to our faith, to our culture, to who we are,” said Koularmanis. The number of clergy born out of the Greek School education system speaks at least in part to this, and the Director suggested a possible connection between the struggles to maintain language programs and to train new clergy.

The Department shared a number of initiatives aimed at strengthening Greek heritage, notably an online, adult Greek language course— which was finally capped at 250 participants—; its ongoing Greek and English publications on history, culture, and language; its partnerships with universities and cultural institutions to develop language learning methods and materials and host seminars for Greek teachers; and its efforts to diversify the mediums for learning by providing Greek schools with new technology.

Stressing the great diversity of parishes, Koularmanis explained that the recent development of the first ever Archdiocesan Greek language curriculum does not intend to be a “one size fits all” endeavor; rather, it is meant to be adapted by different communities according to the realities each of them face. For this reason, the Department has also increased its data-collection efforts in order to understand the specific needs of different parishes and schools, and. Fr. Stampkopoulos presented an exciting update on this project: for the first time, all existing Archdiocesan Greek language schools have been catalogued and charted onto an interactive map online. This tool not only better informs the Department’s work, but is accessible to anyone seeking out a Greek language program in the United States. Check it out here: app.awesome-table.com/-O0avIKuRMSl4xDSI6ym/view

Photos: GOARCH/Brittainy Newman

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