New York.- College students take the lead in social change. They initiate new patterns. Our college students are our present. They are our future hope for a better way of life. The baby boomers of the 60’s and 70’s brought about greater opportunities for minorities and women. Their protest movement brought about an end to the Vietnam War. Our college youth of 2006 are taking a different approach.
Culture events celebrating one’s roots are being held across America. In a low key manner, this is our youth’s way of saying “No!” to drugs and alcohol. Remembering the language of one’s family is prevalent. Parents and grandparents are willing to donate time and funding to see their youth involved in traditional occasions.
On Friday evening, October 13th, the 2nd Annual Evening of Greek Culture and Cuisine was held at Marillac Terrace in Marillac Hall of St. John’s University in Jamaica, N.Y. Over 250 persons attended this free event. Support came from the following: St. John’s Department of Languages and Literatures Department; St. John’s Modern Greek Language and Literature Program; St. John’s Greek Club; and the Pan Macedonian Studies Center. The student moderators were Yvonne Cassimatis, Haritomeni Scoufaras, Irene Zouroudis and Spiro Kostaras.
The opening prayer was performed by Rev. Dr. Robert Stephanopoulos, Dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral. Welcome greetings were delivered through: Dr. Nicolas Toscano, Chairman of the SJU Department of Languages and Literatures; Dr. Marie Lise Gazarian, Spanish Honor Society; Dr. Gaetano Cipolla, President of Arba Sicula;
Dr. AnnaLisa Sacca, Professor of Italian Language and Literature and Elias Neofytidis, President of the Pan-Macedonian Studies Center. Greetings were imparted by Dr. Arthur Flug, Executive Director, Holocaust Resource Center and Archives at Q.C.C.College; 111th Police Precinct, Lt. Heffernan and Tony Barsamian, Publisher, Queens Gazette.
Appreciation awards were presented to individuals and societies that have given scholarships to St. John’s students of the Modern Greek Language and Literature Program. They included: Syllogos Enosis Evritanon Amerikis “TO KARPENISI”;
Kostas Koutsoubis, New York Physical Therapy and Sports Rehabilitation; Constantine Parthenis, Mr. Menis and Stelios Gerazounis of Panchiaki Korais Society; Lena Varis, Executive Director of Hellenic Youth in Professional Endeavors, HYPE and George Malafis of the Chian Federation.
Scholarships were awarded to native and non-native speakers who excelled in Modern Greek Language. The Pancyprian Association of America presented one thousand dollars in scholarships to Cypriot-American students Theodora Christodoulou and Michael Nisyriou. Philip Christopher, the legendary community activist and philanthropist initiated the awards through the cooperation of Sophia Cotzia, Executive Director and Adreas Karacostas, Executive Vice-President of Pancyprian Association of America. The George and Kay Malafis Scholarship was awarded to non-native speaker Reginald Basile. “I want to encourage persons of all races and nationalities to understand our language and soul,” said Mr. Malafis. Mrs. Lena Varis presented the Varis Family Scholarship to Sandy Sinha who plans a medical career. ‘Our family is committed to Hellenism initiated by Alexander the Great,” said Mrs. Varis.
Rev. Dr. Robert G. Stephanopoulos, Ph.D. and Costas Athanasiades, journalist/philanthropist were honored. Rev. Dr. Stephanopoulos has dedicated over seventeen years of teaching the unique Eastern Orthodoxy Theology course. He has shaped the lives of generations of students. His wife, Presvitera Nikki, has supported his ministry through the years. Costas Athanasiades is a W.W.II and Cypriot liberation hero, who was imprisoned for his beliefs by the British. Mr. Athanasiades and his wife, Maria were honored for their philanthropic work through the Athanasiades Foundation. They encourage Greek-Americans and Greeks in Albania to continue their college studies. Award presentations to persons who have inspired the event included: Christos Tzelios; Vivi Tzelios; Yvonne Antokas Montesantos, Stavroula Raia, Keily Abreu; Anne Marie Reynaldo; Jonathan Morano and Spiros Kostaras.
The keynote speaker was Koula Sopasis, radio personality. “Olive oil is the key ingredient in Greek foods,” she said. “Crete produces the best olive oil in the world.” In her book, “Sopasina: Queen of Greek Cuisine,” highlights tips on Greek cooking. “Always cook on a low to medium heat,” she said. “Simmer foods that will enhance your ingredients. When boiling beans, do not add salt. This will prevent them from cooking. Always add salt after cooking and draining.” This illustrated cookbook can be purchased for $15 from Koula Sopasis, 21 Cawfield Lane, Melville, NY 11747.
D.J. Spiros Kostaras and Eric Vasilopoulos, bouzoukee player, donated their services for the evening. St. John’s student Kostaras described his student experience at Anatolian College in Thessaloniki, Greece. “I went for one month and stayed three months,” he said. “The St. John’s Modern Greek Language and Literature Program changed my life.” Music and Greek cuisine concluded this evening, prepared by Modern Greek Language and Literature professors Dr. John G. Siolas and Catherine Tsounis.
Special thanks are extended to the following persons, businesses and organizations who donated their time and effort to make this event a success: Modern Greek Language and Literature Program; Elias and Markella Neofytidis; Koula Sopasis and Dance Group; Zenon; George and Peter Katsichtis of Neptune Diner; Tastee Corner; George Milatos of Tastee Corner; Stamatis Restaurant at 23rd Ave.; New York Diner; D.J. Spiros Kostaras; Girleza and Kostas Lambiris; Jackson Hole; Laterna; Soup Stop; Stergios Alexandris; Whitestone Diner; Dennis Mosopoulou; Paradise Diner; Soula Kikis; SJU Greek Club; Ann Marie Renaldo and the SJU Italian Club; Laura and Christoforo Kostaras; Pan Macedonian Studies Center; Vivian Vescovacci; Brenda Padro; Geoffrey O’Brien; Tom Kalaritis and Penny Kalaritis.