Welcome to TNH’s Takeover! In collaboration with The Hellenic Initiative (THI), The National Herald and THI have begun a partnership to introduce the NEXTGEN of Greek/Cypriot ‘movers and shakers’ to the rest of our Diaspora community around the world. Established to inform its readers about all things related to our homeland and its respective communities throughout the world, TNH is now providing THI’s New Leaders (40-years-old and younger), with a new platform to showcase their ideas and to engage their communities in a deeper, more meaningful way while simultaneously building a bridge to Greece and Cyprus. Our next featured New Leader is Georgios Laskaris. Get to know him below!
Last Name, First Name
- Laskaris, Georgios
- Duke University
What city do you live in?
Where in Greece are you from?
- Nuclear Physicist, Technical Consultant
What motivated you to get involved with THI?
- I have been following THI’s work for some years and I am friends with many of its young leaders. I have been impressed by the people that run the various initiatives and the impact of those initiatives to the Greek society. I believe that THI can be one of the flagships of change in Greece and that is why I decided to join. To my mind, the most important mission of THI is to bring together business leaders of Greek origin that can impart their experiences and best practices to the Greek business world and society. Changing Greece through paradigms and leadership is the most important thing that we can do for our motherland. I am honored to be an integral part of THI that contributes substantially towards the realization of this goal.
Favorite activity to take part in where you live?
- Almost two years in the pandemic, I had the time and energy to cultivate my old hobby, chess. I managed to convince my wife to finally learn the basics of chess so I found a human opponent that I can play with. The opposite side is the danger that the student becomes sometimes better than the teacher and this is what happened in our case.
Favorite place to take your non-Greek friends when they visit you in Greece?
- Recently, I had to give a practical answer to this question since many of my American friends visited me in Greece the past summer in order to be present at my wedding. I decided to give them a day-long tour around the Acropolis, strolling through Plaka’s cobbled narrow streets in the morning, down to Monastiraki where we stopped for kebab. In the afternoon, we went through the vibrant Psyri area where we stopped for traditional Greek desserts and drinks. Later in the evening we went up the Dionysiou Areopagitou street where we passed by the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the beautiful Neo-classical houses opposite of the Odeon, ending at the Makrygianni neighborhood dominated by the modern Acropolis Museum. If the ancient Greek gods existed, this area would be their haunt.
Go-to Greek dish when you’re missing the homeland?
- Dolmadakia (stuffed with rice and meat)
Favorite Greek product you can find outside of Greece?
- Biscuits Filled with Chocolate from Papadopoulos company.
Top three people of Greek/Cypriot descent you admire?
- Stamatis Krimigis
- Vardis Vardinogiannis
- Giannis Antetokounmpo
In addition to THI, how are you involved in/help the Greek/Cypriot community?
- In 2008, I joined as a graduate student the physics department of Duke University where I co-founded the Hellenic Student Association and I served as its president for a number of years. Later I continued my studies as a postdoc at Stanford university in California where I served as the Vice President of the local HSA. In parallel, I served for a number of years as board member of the National HSA of North America becoming its Vice President. Recently, I have been serving the Greek community in the USA as the President of the Local Branch of New Democracy in Boston and the broader New England area.
What is the biggest crisis Greece/Cyprus faces today?
- The biggest crisis that Greece is facing for a number of years now is the population reduction. It is true that this crisis is common among the developed nations but in Greece was intensified due to the 10-years-long financial crisis that pushed hundreds of thousands of Greeks away from the country. This crisis reveals itself in the life of the nation in a number of ways, starting from the unsustainable pension system to the obvious threat of the extinction of our nation as we know it. The Greek diaspora has a major part to play in Greece by convincing the Greek youth all over the world to develop ties with the old ‘Patrida’ including economic ties i.e. investing in Greece, educational ties, i.e. studying in Greece, serving at the Greek Army etc.
One piece of advice an elder has given you that has proved invaluable?
- My father often repeated to me that being persistent and fearless are great qualities. I think that persistency and taking risks are two qualities that allows anyone to be always few steps ahead of others.
Favorite quote from a Greek philosopher?
- Heraclitus says, you know, “that all things move and nothing remains still,” and he likens the universe to the current of a river, saying “you cannot step twice into the same stream.” Plato, Cratylus 402a
One Greek/Cypriot tradition you’ll never stop keeping?
- Going to the church during Easter time is one tradition that I follow no matter whether I am in the USA, China, or Latin America. This time of the year always reminds me of the traditional celebration of Easter in Greek villages and all its symbolism. In the words of George Seferis: “The highest form of Spring I know: Greek Holy Week.”
How has your Hellenic background helped shape who you are today?
- I think that the biggest gift that Greece has given us is to raise us cosmopolitan enough so we feel that the whole world is our home no matter where we are – Shanghai or New York. Indeed, I feel that my Greek heritage is a ‘passport’ that gains me access and respect in the most remote places or hostile environments.
- Do not condescend to ask: ‘Shall we conquer? Shall we be conquered?’ Fight on! (Nikos Kazatzakis, The saviors of God)