The Greek-American Teachers Federation, the Department of Greek Education of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and the Hellenic Paideia of America organized a day of celebration on March 10th to honor the Greek language.
Greek has been declared as “an international language” by UNESCO, and this marks the third year that the language has had its own international day devoted to its appreciation.
As part of the worldwide celebrations of 2019 Greek Language Day, The Greek Ministry of Education wrote “It is important to learn and love the Greek language, because of its virtues but mainly because it has expressed a great culture, that shaped and codified the first and statutory layer of the upper vocabulary and the basic concepts of Western civilization.”
Over two hundred people attended the Stathakion Cultural Center’s celebration of the Greek language, Greek culture and the Greek Orthodox faith. The honorees for 2019 were Reverend Protopresbyteros John Antonopoulos, Dr. George Tsioulias, Vasiliki Filiotis and Stavros Haνiaras.
Each honoree received the “Historic Hellenic Language Award” and a certificate of recognition from Senator Michael N. Gianaris. New York State Assembly member Aravella Simotas praised the awardees, saying that they were all outstanding citizens.
She also presented the citations, which read in part: “a great state is enhanced by individuals who serve their communities with humility and distinction, which… so often goes unrecognized and unrewarded.”
Rev. Fr. John Antonopoulos is a longtime member of the Greek community of Astoria, and the only priest who has remained in Astoria ever since the 1960’s. Father Antonopoulos is universally known and loved in the Astoria community as a dedicated clergyman and one to be counted on in a crisis.
Now, Fr. Antonopoulos has a new title, that of writer/historian, upon the publication of his three books, all of which were based on primary sources. The new recipient of the Hellenic Language award told the assembled crowd of two hundred that “The wise men and great teachers say the humble support society… The church community is supported by the unknown and unseen deacons.”
For more information on Fr. Antonopoulos’ books, you may contact his office at (718) 728-8500.
Honoree Dr. George Tsioulis stated in his remarks that “We must teach, reach and motivate Greek American children… Teachers of the Greek language must integrate modern technology, such as the internet in their classroom, as well as use the own language of the students for motivation.
“Grandparents, parents and families must play a significant role in inspiring the students to learn the Greek language and culture. Cultural activities such as theater, dance, music and visits to Greece can help curb the dropout rate of Greek students from the Greek schools,” he added.
Hellenic Paideia President Filiotis stated in her address that “Parents must redefine their own ethnic identity, expressing their belief in Greek cultural achievement. They must come forward to offer their time and talents to perpetuate the Greek legacy.
“Greek education’s purpose is to provide students with the tools to become their own teachers throughout their life… We must study Greek in order to prevent our own decline. Greek is the language of the Bible and the basis of Christianity. It is the obligation of parents to support an education in the Greek language that will transmit these truths.”
Stavros Haviaras, the founder of the Chian Federation, is a larger-than-life figure who in his remarks said that he wants the next generation to love Greece, and his island of Chios.
Mr. Haviaras is an active member in the Greek Orthodox community. He is αn Archon, a Prince of the Church, of our Ecumenical Patriarchate, in the Order of Saint Andrew. Havarias was awarded the Historic Hellenic Language Award for his longtime involvement in the community and his continued efforts to keep our Greek culture and heritage alive.