BOSTON, MA – A high-caliber and uniqueprogram of Hellenism and Philhellenism has been established at Boston University.
The Boston University Philhellenes (BUPh)Project was founded in 2012 by Professors Kelly Polychroniou and Dr. Loren Samons of in the Department of Classical Studies.The Project is designed to promote the appreciation of Greek culture in its continuous history from antiquity to the present day through events at BU, a summer study for undergraduate students in Greece, and scholarships in Modern Greek language.
The Project consists of a student group, alumni association, and a board of directors comprising leading civic and business leaders, including the Consul General of Greece in Boston.
Prof. Polychroniou has been the faculty advisor of the student group since the beginning.She has also led the annual BUPh Summer Study in Athens every year since 2013, working with other faculty at BU, including Professors Steve Esposito and James Uden and Dr. Samons, who is BUPh’s co-Director.
Polychroniou told TNH that “the BUPh Summer Study has sent about 100 students to Greece in the last five years, including students in classical studies, Modern Greek language, the Core Curriculum, and students who have participated from other disciplines. Each year, the BUPh students’ association holds an election to choose a new executive board. The president of the BUPh for 2017-18 is Carly Rose Willing, a student of Modern Greek who was also holder of a prestigious internship at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Nafplio in the summer of 2017.
She added that “expenses of students who participate in the Summer Study are covered jointly by the students themselves and by funds provided by generous donations to the BUPh, including those made by such supporters as the John and Sonia Lingos Family Foundation, the Alpha Omega Council, and George Danis BUPh also receives generous support from the NEH Distinguished Teaching Professorship and the Boston University Hellenic Studies Fund.In addition to this support, the BUPh has a strong relationship with the American College of Greece, where students in the Summer Study reside and take courses.Through all these means, the BUPh has been able to keep the costs of the two-course program to about one half of what other such programs charge.”
She explained that “the Modern Greek Program at BU typically enrolls about 70 to 80 students per year in its various courses. About 10 to 15 students minor in Modern Greek, and in 2017, BU graduated the first student with a degree in Modern Greek studies in over two decades. Currently two other students are pursuing BA degrees in Modern Greek.
BUPh has been privileged to work with the Center for Hellenic Studies at Harvard University over the last three years, when students from BU have held one of the prestigious Nafplio internships at the Center.BUPh students are also now eligible for an internship at the Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum in Athens, which is directed by BU alumna Ioanna Lalaounis.Elizabeth Foster, a participant in the BUPh Summer Study in 2016, became the first BUPh intern at the Lalaounis Museum in the summer of 2017.”
Polychroniou also spoke about the future of Modern Greek in America: “the future of study of most foreign languages in the United States is currently threatened by shrinking university and college budgets in the humanities and the removal of foreign language requirements for many degrees.Languages like Modern Greek that have typically enrolled smaller numbers of students are particularly at risk.But I am optimistic about the future of Modern Greek for at least two reasons. First, Greek is a language with perhaps the strongest literary tradition of any European language, with a history that stretches over 3,000 years and runs from Homer to Kazantzakis.Second, Greece remains a very attractive location for travel for his culture and study. Greece itself will always be a very strong argument in favor of learning Greek.
“I would say, however, that the Greek community and friends of Hellenism everywhere can ensure continued instruction in Greek by supporting colleges and university programs that teach Greek. These programs are often short of funding, and donations that assist programs like the BUPh or that endow lectureships or professorships in Greece will help us make sure that the next generation (and the next!) will be able to study the Greek language.”