The Survival of Hellenism in North America

Hellenism in North America lives in a reality that sees it increasingly subject to the assimilation of its people by the surrounding atmosphere. The distance from the roots, the cessation of immigration from Greece, the mixed marriages and the education in the schools of the host countries are the levers of mitigation of the Greek consciousness.

Many are of the opinion that the Church will be the one that will eventually become the bastion of Hellenism at these critical moments given that, traditionally, the second, third and fourth generation Greeks will congregate there to celebrate the sacraments of marriage, baptism and the major holidays of Orthodoxy.

However, the Orthodox religion cannot be expected to be a source of renewal of national consciousness by itself. Besides, Orthodoxy is not solely the religion and doctrine of the Greeks but also of the Russians, Bulgarians, Serbs and other Balkan peoples. As such, the Orthodox religion is not a unique historical source of reference for the Greek Diaspora (as is Judaism, for example, in the case of the Jewish Diaspora).

So, then, what are the levers that can, alongside the Orthodox tradition, stimulate the newer generations of Greeks to aspire to retain their identity and instill in them the importance of their roots:

1) The teaching of the Greek language:
It is essential to convince the descendants of the Greek Diaspora that the Greek language is the cornerstone of the sciences and arts in our world, while also being, at the same time, a European language which can facilitate access to the European Union as a whole. The teaching of the Greek language to the new generations of Greeks abroad must be deemed essential and vital;.

2) The acquisition of Greek citizenship:
The possibility of acquiring Greek citizenship through hereditary rights is an incentive that can create a generation of Greek citizens living abroad, who, with their European citizenship in hand, will be able to penetrate, and potentially profit from, the greater European family;

3) The creation of professional networks around the world:
The founding and promotion of associations, institutions and chambers of a specific profession (such as clubs of Greek doctors, businessmen and lawyers, for example) that can integrate third and fourth generation Greeks into their networks is of great importance. The use of origin as a common denominator in this regard can be a tool to enhance one’s Hellenic identity on a professional level;

4)The creation of Greek interest sites:
Indeed, the electronic age provides for the ability to network beyond borders. Through social media, music, personal interests, hobbies, culture and sports, Greeks around the world can reinforce their Greek identity and contacts by connecting to sites of common interest;

5) The renewal of the institutions of the Diaspora:
In their current form, many Greek associations and communities are outdated entities that need to be modernized and developed into attractive meeting points;

6)Political support for politicians of Greek origin:
The political support afforded to politicians of Greek origin abroad can produce decision makers who can instill pride in the Greek Diaspora. The mobilization of the local Greeks to support such candidates can bring about a renewal of their national consciousness;

7)The establishment of Greek studies programs:
The establishment of Greek studies departments in prominent universities around the world can bring about an interest for their Greek roots among the new generations. These departments can instruct and provoke wide interest discussions about Greek culture and history that can pique and reinforce Greek pride;

8)The export of Greek culture:
The export of Hellenic culture abroad (by supporting ancient tragedy troupe tours or the staging of Greek film festivals, for example) can spread enthusiasm and stimulation among the Greeks of the diaspora. In addition, ancient Greek theater performances or, other, more contemporary presentations of Greek art, can help Hellenic culture penetrate the mainstream country and its host cities.

All these aforementioned ideas are indicative ways in which to support the Hellenic identity of the new generations of Greeks abroad while the Greek Orthodox Church, through its historical infrastructure, remains its cornerstone.

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