Greek-American students visit the Parthenon, in a file photo. ‘The renewed growth in exchange and immersion programs and trans-Atlantic partnerships has created a much needed foundation for future generations,’ says Behrakis.
The positive news and trends in Greek-US relations led by diaspora grassroots efforts and the enthronement of a new archbishop of America, give us hope that the evolution of this renewed friendship will extend beyond geopolitical and foreign policy.
One of the never-ending debates is the role and relationship between the Greek diaspora and the Greek state. We all have Greek roots but a Greek growing up in Athens is light years away from a fourth generation Greek American growing up in Boston. We may share the same rich culture and faith and appreciate the same delicacies; we may dance the same steps and occasionally speak the same language, but for decades we have been on different pages, even chapters (some would say books.)
Yes, the crisis has brought us closer and there are newer organizations with some great and impactful initiatives (with more in the works), but for sustainable success it will truly require a relationship across all levels and spectrums. The renewed growth in exchange and immersion programs and trans-Atlantic partnerships has created a much-needed foundation for future generations.
Now more than ever we need our organizational leaders to put their differences (and egos) aside and build better bridges together. The same holds true for our “patrida”: Allowing the diaspora to play a more active role to help shape the future of the modern Greek state while at the same time reciprocating its support of our shared heritage from coast to coast. The announcement of Antonis Diamataris as deputy minister of foreign affairs for diaspora Greeks is another positive step.
Change won’t happen overnight and trust takes a long time to be built, but there are positive signs especially among our younger generations that we need to nurture, encourage and empower.
Drake G. Behrakis is a second generation Greek American from Boston who currently serves as the volunteer Chairperson of the National Hellenic Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation, protection and perpetuation of the Hellenic heritage.