“Ι think my generation has opened new doors…so the next generation can step in and really make a huge difference,” said Drake Behrakis, Chairman of the National Hellenic Society (NHS), on the future of Greek Diaspora.
In an exclusive interview with Greek Reporter, the Greek American from Massachusetts spoke about the National Hellenic Society, “an organization to preserve and protect our Hellenic identity here in the United States.”
The key NHS program is the Heritage Greece program, Behrakis noted, describing it as a “birthright program” through which college age students are sent to Greece for two and a half weeks to experience the country by spending all their time with students from Greece.
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“That transformative program now has over 200 students and is growing. Many students come back with a renewed interest for Greece, showing willingness to do something. Some have dragged their parents to Greece, others found ways to volunteer. With NHS we have created a network and a framework for them to stay actively involved with NHS,” Behrakis said.
The NHS chairman believes that the program will have a growing impact and maybe in 20 or 30 years time, future leaders of our organizations might come out of these Greek Americans or their counterparts in Greece. “You cannot put a price tag on the value of the connections that they have,” Behrakis stressed.
Besides his professional role as CEO of the real estate firm Marwick Associates, Drake Behrakis has been an organiser in the Greek-American community throughout his life. He is an active member of Leadership 100 and AHEPA along with his wife, Maria, and has been elected to the Boston College Board of Trustees.
Speaking of the challenges of Diaspora Greeks around the globe, the NHS chairman stressed that as years go by, they are ingrained in the cultures they live in and lose connection with their heritage, but also there are many who still keep in touch with their roots and can still bring the community together. “We ‘ve had discussions to try and bring Greeks from all over the world together, get their perspective and begin to partner together, come closer…because at the end of the day we are all Greeks and we need to find ways to help each other.”