The Journey begins…

Welcome to the Heritage Greece blog of 2017! Here we’ll be documenting the wonderful two week journey that sixty-two young Greek – Americans will embark on, discovering more about their roots and ancestry, whilst getting a firsthand experience of what Greece is really about! Let’s get to it!

The participants’ first exciting experience was that of flying over the beautiful Greek landscape, eagerly anticipating what was to come. Two of the participants, Gabrielle Reerra and Niki Tingas, lent us a word or two!

For Gabrielle,“[…] It was my first time traveling to Greece, and I felt that people have been telling me “you must go to Greece” my entire life. So, I was extremely excited to get on the flight to Munich and actually begin the trip.”

For Niki it was a much of the same feelings but she shared what she expected from the trip: “[…] From this journey I am expecting to connect with the culture I have always identified with, but that of which I have only heard of by word of mouth and never experienced firsthand.”

With everyone safely landed, we warmly welcomed them to Deree’s wonderful neighborhood of Agia Paraskevi, where we had a casual buffet dinner at Arteon Garden! We got to know each other a bit better and have some traditional Greek food while at it!

The day that followed was one of cautious apprehension as everything seems so familiar, yet so foreign.

As Demos Eftathiou put it,
“[…] Yesterday getting here was almost like a culture shock, but today I’m kind of getting used to the Greek way of life. Definitely different than the United States in a way that had been explained to me before, but that I understand more now that I’m here.”

But this was swiftly brushed aside as they didn’t have much time to contemplate, since the activities started almost immediately. We toured around the beautifully green suburb the College is situated in, Agia Paraskevi, but something amazing was in store for us! The Deree Open Fest, the first of its kind! Ranging from a technology fair and wellness sessions, to street food stands and sports tournaments, it truly had everything! Something akin to a great summer party to start it all off! We were treated to a wonderful Greek Dancing workshop by Cindy Trent and an amazingly informative Greek cooking Masterclass with Diane Kochillas!

Gabrielle noted about the festival, “[…] The dancing reminded me of being at family weddings and church functions back at home, and it was interesting to learn that other Americans grew up Greek Dancing. The cooking class was also interesting because I learned more about the background of Greek cuisine”.
Niki cheerfully told us, “[…] Seeing everyone come together in such a fun way really facilitated bonding throughout the group so early on in the trip. It made me feel more connected to Greek culture, as well as to the other participants. […]”

To end it all off on a positive note, Nicholas Staviski had these kind words to say “I feel closer in 2 days to y’all than I do to friends I’ve had for 5+ years back home.”

Our very first dinner together!

Our very first dinner together!

The first of many group photos to come! Welcome to all!

The first of many group photos to come! Welcome to all!

Blog editor and photographer: James (Dimitris) Voutsas

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