Greece – a vacation location for some and an ancestral home for others. It is a country that is rich in history with people who believe in filoxenia. The PanHellenic Scholarship Foundation is proud to have established Hellenic Birthright in 2012, a program specifically dedicated to exposing Greek-American students ages 18-25 to Greece for the very first time. This cultural enrichment and educational program allows students to explore different aspects of Greece, historical sites, and enjoy the lively culture while earning college credit. Other than airfare, all expenses are paid by the Foundation. There are 22 students participating in this year’s program, which runs from June 19 to July 19. “We believe this is a life-changing opportunity for the students who have never been to Greece and we are grateful to our donors who made this possible,” said Chairman of the Foundation, Chris Tomaras.
|After the selected students received their acceptance letters, many could not contain their curiosity and did some much-needed research before traveling to Greece. For some, this trip was their first time leaving the United States. As Hannah Malevitis states, “I know before I came on this trip I would do a Google search of Thessaloniki a numerous amount of times. I just wanted to know what to expect, but once I stepped off that plane all the assumptions I created in my mind for this place went completely out the window. It’s the scent of fresh fish, the richness of the Greek coffee, and the beyond gorgeous scenery that will put your Google searches to shame.”|
Eventually, their curiosity and excitement transformed into a sense of pride as the students started to feel an innate connection with their ancestral homeland. After spending only a few days in Greece, Christina Zikos states, “Three nights into this trip of a lifetime, and I’ve already experienced so much in this unique country. Even while staring at the landscape, looking at its distinct topography and shoreline as I flew into Greece’s airspace, it was hard to believe I was finally here: the place my parents once called home.”
Currently, these students continue to explore different parts of Greece as their curriculum complements their experiences. Please visit our blog where all Hellenic Birthright participants keep weekly journals documenting this life-changing experience.