There was a time in America when to be considered educated you had to have studied ancient Greek culture. At least the prominent Greek philosophers, poets, and playwrights.
It is no coincidence, then, that many of the most important studies on them have been conducted by Americans.
That era passed decades ago. Today, students at universities are much more interested in studying something that will help them find a job right away rather than learning what Homer and Aristophanes said.
The book Who Killed Homer: The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom is extremely revealing in this regard.
There was also a time when Greece cared – it began with the late Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis, who recognized the value of Philhellenes and their contribution to the country (via tourism and more generally). There was a time when Greece endowed Greek Studies programs at various universities – but this era passed decades ago as well.
Most Greek studies programs have failed and many others were cut back because of lack of interest from students.
Today, more Americans know about the gyro than Plato.
It would be good for them to know both.
And yet, we have a pleasant new development.
The couple George and Tina Kolovos funded a new endowed chair in Hellenic Studies at UCLA, specifically for the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Center for the Study of Hellenic Culture.
Yes, once again, the SNF has benefitted us.
Indeed, we have great Hellenes among us in the Diaspora. Most of whom we don't know.
Two of these Hellenes include George Kolovos and his wife, Tina.
To get a sense of the man, read what follows:
“I left Greece to come to this great country to educate myself. I had planned to go back to my beautiful homeland and work there for the best interests of my country. This was my dream, but the conditions were never right for me to return. I continued to live with a great love for my homeland and an admiration for what my ancestors have contributed and how our culture has helped our world. I adopted this great country as my second home, but my hope and my heart have always been in Greece and in the Hellenic culture. By establishing this chair, I am fulfilling a desire to connect my adopted country with the country of my birth.”
May they notice this in Greece as well…