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Member Update– Bulletin
Ενημέρωση Μελών, Φίλων, και Συνεργατών του Συνδέσμου
|Editorial Committee: Achilleas Adamantiades, Dimitri Dandolos, Alex Economides, Gerasimos Merianos, Maria-Eleftheria Giatrakou, Panagiotis Siskos, Stella Tsirka; Associate Editor : Dean C. Lomis, Acting Editor: Costas Efthymiou
Bulletin 141 October-November, 2016
In this issue, the Bulletin presents with pleasure and ethnic pride an extraordinary school event organized by parents of Greek students attending schools in the East Williston School District of Nassau County in Long Island. The occasion was
“instructional” for parents; the program aimed at bringing together people of multicultural backgrounds in order to familiarize them with the features of one culture, our own Greek culture, in a congenial atmosphere, accentuated by some brief oral presentations, a Greek- menu dinner, followed by Greek folklore dances; the latter were performed by a group of the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Markella and by students of WheatleyHigh School. The cultural scope and value of the Progam – under the key theme of “Greek Philotimo” – becomes evident by its content, which we present herein in detail, thanks to the kind cooperation of the Greek Planning Committee of the School District.
In addition to the members of the Hellenic Link anf our readers, this event is of great interest to Greek American Communities and Organizations, which might desire to emulate this type of cultural activity in their locality.
EAST WILLISTON SCHOOL DISTRICT
Multicultural Committee Celebration of Greek Culture
By Joan Anderson , District Chair for World Languages
November 7, 2016
Kalispera ( audience repeats it) Wow! That was great! Now let’s try Ni hao again, Namaste and Salaam Walaikum (Editor’s Note: Hello in Mandarin Chinese, Indian Greeting, and Arab Greeting, respectively). Welcome to the East Williston School District’s third Multicultural Event “My Big Fat Greek Celebration” highlighting the culture of our Greek community members.
Wow! A color guard opener to our special evening, that was different! I hope all of you were welcomed with a “mati” to ward off evil spirits.
If you are a member of the Educational Advisory Committee, would you please stand? (Sharon Piscopia, Barbara Creamer and Jim Bloomgarden). Two years ago, the EAC suggested that we take advantage of the educational enrichment our diverse community provides us. And so, the Multicultural Committee was born with representation from community members, staff and students.
Knowing that all of our schools do so much to foster greater understanding and appreciation of other cultures among our student population, the Multicultural Committee quickly realized that their goal was to create opportunities for the adults of the community to learn more about each other and well, simply put- to connect. And that is exactly what happened at the Asian Lunar New Year and South Asian Holi celebrations. It was such a pleasure to see people across the district, who had never met before, enjoying each other’s company over good food and conversation. Connections were made and as a result, people within our community are coming together in a variety of ways.
You can visit any university that boasts “diversity” and you will quickly notice that their diversity is more divisive than inclusive. Numerous clubs of different ethnic groups that never connect with one another. Here at Wheatley (High School) we have the ICU- the Intercultural Unity Club, a club specifically designed to bring students of different backgrounds together to learn more about each other and to teach others within the school community about the rich cultural heritage that is represented within our student body. They work together, coordinate performances together, volunteer, contribute to charitable causes and as a result, they build strong bonds and friendships. And I encourage tonight’s dancers to reach out to ICU members to teach them your (Greek) dances so that all of you can perform in the ICU assembly in December.
I have commented before on the uniqueness of the Multicultural Committee and how very special it is. Not that I am partial or anything, but it is the BEST committee in the district. I call it the Adult ICU. The beauty of the committee is that it is ever evolving with new members joining for each new celebration and with each group coming on board, they are so surprised that all members of the committee are so genuinely interested in contributing to their particular event. I would like to introduce the committee members who worked on this wonderful Greek event:
Bette Efthymiou-Kalpakis and Georgia Kaparos who coordinated the efforts of the Greek community, Vyomini Amin, Susan Checkla, Barbara Creamer, Priti Jain, Larissa Larionova, Tina Leong, Lily Lin, Sayyeda Mirza-Jafri, Kim Pitchayan, Neha Shah and Ivy Sun with input from ICU liaison: Rahul Ajmera
Something very, very special has happened in just one year. As a result of the connections originally made on this committee and at our two prior events, district wide parents’ social networks are expanding beyond their “culturally based” communities, parents from all three schools (Wheatley High, Willets Road Middle, and North Side Primary School) are connecting with each other in ways they had never done in the past and new friendships have been formed. The camaraderie and bonding that has taken place among the members of the community is truly inspiring.
I mentioned in my remarks at last year’s dinners that districts had received an email from the government, stressing the importance of cultivating acceptance of diversity within their school communities. We were already ahead of the curve but, with the planning of this event, we have turned the corner. We are no longer celebrating our cultural diversity, we are truly celebrating our cultural UNITY. Serving on this committee, we have quickly learned that we are so much more similar than we are different. Hopefully, you, too, will see that this evening.
We invite you to suggest which culture we should consider highlighting on May 4. We are open to all ideas. We started with these dinners to get people talking, now we can continue with the same or move on to a different format. Community members have asked how they can contribute so we are looking at different options. Let us know your thoughts. Feel free to speak to any of us this evening or email me at your convenience.
And last, I would like to recognize a few more members of our staff that have contributed to our efforts in our times of need while we were planning this event: Elaine Kanas(Superintendent of Schools), Sean Feeney, Karen Klapper, and our custodial staff: Ed Briggs and Mike Deister.
A huge thank you to the families (both in and out of district) and vendors who sponsored this event in support of our goal. Your generosity is very much appreciated.
And now, I would like to present ICU members Aarushi Jain, Demetri Kaparos and Erin Wu to MC our show and read Bette Efthymiou- Kalpakis’ core theme of the event : Greek Philotimo.
AARUSHI advised the audience to open the pamphlets on their tables to page 1 and asked them to stand and follow the lyrics as the event was to open with the Greek National Anthem, while the Triantafillou family was to lead the color guard.
AARUSHI, ERIN and DEMETRI led the Pledge of Allegiance.
AARUSHI asked the audience to take their seats and invited Dr. Kanas to give her greeting in Greek and English.
Dr. Kanas introduces Mrs. Anderson
Mrs. Anderson turns it over to the presenter of the evening’s theme:
Kalispera kai kalos orisate! Good evening and welcome! When you think of something Greek, what comes to your mind…is it ancient civilization, philosophy or mythology, or beautiful islands surrounded by dreamy beaches with crystalline water and fine white sand, or great festivals with delicious food and lively music?…Yes, these things are all Greek and pretty well known…but there is something else that is Greek that is not so obvious, but very important for you to learn and experience tonight.
Let’s start with a brief look at some of the great Greek contributions to mankind:
Philotimo is a Greek word that is without definition, but impacts the world beyond imagination. The meaning of philotimo extends far beyond the words friend and honor. Philotimo encompasses the concepts of pride in self, pride in family, pride in community, and pride in doing the right thing for the world at large. Philotimo is comprised of many elements as described here:
Greeks were able to accomplish many great things thoughout history but why they accomplished them is why we are here today. Philotimo is the driving force behind all their great accomplishments and their guide for daily life. Philotimo is shown by the way Greeks embrace others and treat them with love and respect. Everyone is part of the Greek family regardless of race, gender or ethnic background, and is welcomed with open arms and great enthusiasm like this:
You are all part of the Greek family here in the East Williston School District. We are inspired by philotimo and share the same values, hopes and dreams for a better world for our children. We hope you enjoy Greek philotimo tonight, and encourage you to dance and eat like a Greek! I assure you it’s fun! Please welcome dance instructor Maria Pariaros and her dance team from Saint Markella Greek Orthodox Church in Wantagh to perform four dances joined by our Wheatley students.
The first is Sirto, which is from the Aegean islands, the second is Kalamatiano which originated from the Peloponnese region and spread throughout mainland Greece, the third is Zeimbekiko which is modern day Greek dancing, and the fourth is Zorba which is known worldwide from Nikos Kazantzakis’ famous book and movie Zorba the Greek.
We are so happy that you have joined us tonight. You all have philotimo by making the effort to learn and experience Greek culture. We hope you can discuss ways your ethnicity expresses philotimo with the guests at your table. I now ask that Mrs. Efthymiou-Kalpakis and Mrs. Kaparos, the planners for this great event, to please come forward.
On behalf of the Greek Event Planning Committee, we would like to present these flowers to Joan Anderson as a token of our great appreciation for having the vision to lead the Multicultural Steering Committee and for bringing us together to celebrate our unity while embracing our differences. I thank her for the opportunity to work and to learn from my fellow Committee members both Greek and non-Greek…I also learned another Greek word during this project which is meraki (μεράκι). Meraki is used to describe what happens when you leave a piece of yourself (your soul, creativity, or love) in your work. When you love doing something or anything so much that you put something of yourself into it. All the ladies showed meraki in this project. They worked tirelessly and passionately from start to finish, and that is how they accomplished so much in such a short amount of time. I am honored to live in and be a part of this great community.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Maria Pariaros and her dance team from Saint Markella Church in Wantagh for dedicating their time and expertise to assist us with our performances this evening. Please come forward Maria to accept these flowers as a token of our gratitude. Thank you also Wantagh dancers Nicoletta Lios, Kristina Bussi, Sophia Kayantas, Vasia Bachas, and Kyra Gasparis, and Wheatley dancers Demetri Kaparos, Frances Kalpakis, Yvonne Kalpakis, Constance Kalpakis, Marcella Kanes, Maritsa Kanes, Katie Clark, and Farah Hasan. A big round of applause for all our performers this evening!
Mrs.Joan Anderson continues and concludes her remarks:
Just a few comments regarding the evening’s plan.
We hope you have a good appetite and the energy to dance after dinner. Opa! Before the MCs begin to call your tables to the buffet, I would like to go over the logistics. We are trying to make serving as efficient as possible, so, lines will form at each end of the table. All food selections are doubled at each table so you will have seen all the selections by the time you reach the midway point. Table #s will be called in numerical order evens on this side, odd #s on the other. We invite you to take advantage of the photo booth set up in the lounge to have your photo (group or individual) taken and superimposed on a photo of a favorite Greek destination, perhaps Athens or Mykonos?
After dinner, staff will remove your dinner plates prior to dessert. Again, we eliminated titles on the nametags to foster a friendly atmosphere. The committee put a lot of thought into the seating arrangements, providing a balance of community members and school district personnel. On your tables, you fill find pamphlets filled with information about Greek culture. On the first page, you will find tonight’s menu and a list of what we call cultural connections or conversation starters. You may notice many women here dressed in blue and white with scarves to match. This is no coincidence. The Greek moms wanted to make it easier for you to identify them and to feel free to ask them about anything you have always wanted to know about Greeks, but may have been afraid to ask! So, don’t be shy, ask away! On behalf of the Multicultural Committee, I hope you have a wonderful evening.
CULTURAL AND SCIENTIFIC ASSOCIATION
OF HELLENES AND PHILHELLENES INCORPORATED IN DELAWARE
Suite No. 278, 38-11 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, New York 11105
Contact Telephone: (718) 217- 0430
To carry away an elementary Manual on Greek culture and Modern Greece for reference, the Greek Planning Committee prepared a 10-page pamphlet, given to all – over 200 – guest parents who attended the event. We reproduce it below in miniaturized form for our readers.
CLICK ON ANY OF THE FOLLOWING GRAPHICS TO ENLARGE EACH.
The Editorial Committee of the Hellenic Link Bulletin warmly congratulates the Greek Parents of the East Williston School District for their inspiring PHILOTIMI, PHILADELFI and EFFECTIVE – one evening- presentation of Hellenic Culture to their fellow- citizens; this event has been appreciated as a most fitting ethnic contribution to the cultural life of the East Williston community. Bravo!