The word “strategy” is derived from the word “stratiyeia,” comprising of two Greek words: “stratos” meaning army, and “ago” which in ancient Greek denotes guiding, moving, and leading. Armies that is. The very stratagem the ancient generals used to deploy their forces and defeat the enemy, is “strategy.” A strategy defines goals and how they are achieved within the limits of one’s resources.
Today’s Greek-American community has dramatically changed and if Hellenic heritage is to remain relevant, new strategies are needed. Within the modern context of Hellenic heritage in America, the enemy is complacently born out of an evolving demographics and existing institutions moving slowly to adapt evolving changes. The strategy to connect future generations to their Hellenic heritage must be marked by inspiration and meaning.
NATIONAL HELLENIC SOCIETY
The National Hellenic Society (NHS) comprises a small yet potent army of leaders, visionaries, and philanthropists committed to preserving and passing on Hellenic heritage to the next generation. NHS is the best of the best, likeminded, successful doers and achievers in their own respective fields/professions leveraging their knowledge, skill sets, networks, and resources to collectively develop programs that inspire and engage the Greek-American community.
In mid-June, NHS will sponsor 50 exceptional Greek-American college students to participate in an odyssey of self-discovery of their respective Hellenic heritage, roots, and culture along with Greek students from the American College of Greece/DEREE. This year marks the seventh year of the Heritage Greece Program, and seven years of sociological research and findings quantify the incredible impact the Program has had on the participants and their families.
The Heritage Greece experience continues beyond the students’ return from Greece by having the students matriculate into the Heritage Greece Alumni Network. NHS members keep connected to the students through mentorship, internship, and their involvement in other programs. The students in turn stay engaged within the NHS Chapter system and NHS program implementation.
June kicks off a month of “greatness” and collaboration between the NHS and National Geographic (NatGeo). The epic saga begins with the museum exhibit “The Greeks from Agamemnon to Alexander” – nearly 600 artifacts from 22 Greek museums covering a 5,000 year timespan. NHS member John Calamos, in collaboration with the National Hellenic Museum and Field Museum, ensured the exhibit’s American tour, currently at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC.
Along with the exhibit, NatGeo is producing a three-part documentary supported by the NHS that will air on June 21, 28, and July 5 nationwide on the PBS network. National Geographic Magazine will also feature a story on “The Greeks.”
NHS and NatGeo are producing an online digital series developed by the NHS entitled: “The Greek Guide to Greatness” – a digital series specifically targeted for the next generation. “The Greek Guide to Greatness” comprises of several short vignettes superbly demonstrating ancient themes within a modern context from social networking, free speech to entertainment, athletics, and other compelling topics. “The Greek Guide to Greatness” will be available on the NatGeo and PBS online networks, and it will also be compiled into a DVD format that will be distributed with history text books and to accompany lesson plans and teacher guides for grades 8-11 nationwide.
A WINNING STRATEGY
In business, dramatic technological change and new global dynamics represent game-changing challenges for companies. The current stakes are no longer market share shifts, but rather “all-in” realities seeing clear-cut winners and losers in the high-stakes game of competition. Iconic brands like Kodak, Borders, and Blockbuster are examples of these former giants’ failure to adapt.
Leveraging NHS members’ collective knowhow, skill sets, and resources with a mission-oriented focus will continue to yield long-term tangible results. The NHS is inspiring, energizing, and engaging the next generation to continue to keep Hellenism’s torch blazing bright. In turn, NHS members are inspired and engaged in being be part of a winning team.
Art Dimopoulos, JD, LLM, is NHS Executive Director.