Undoubtedly, the Greek language is the basis of our culture and fundamental element of our national identity and this very well know around the world our expatriates, proving that the Greek Education is what gives the universal dimension of Hellenism.
On the occasion of today’s feast of the Three Hierarchs, patron of letters, which is celebrated with devotion and in the Greek Diaspora, we attempt a brief history in Greek educational things in America, where according to the theme of education interested in Greek immigrants still from the 18th century. The first known case of founding Greek school in Newfoundland dates back to 1776.
“The first known group of Greek emigration to the U.S. was in 1767, when about 400 Greeks from Crete and Mani, 1100 with other foreigners settlers came to the area, now called New Smyrna, Florida,” says ANA-MPA Chicago, Nick Nikolidakis, who, having served for six terms, Education Coordinator in the U.S. (New York and Chicago), contributed significantly to the promotion of the institution of the Greek.
These early Greek settlers led them to those parts of a Scottish doctor, Andrew Ternmpoul (Andrew Turnbull). His wife, Maria Grazzi (Maria Gracia), was the daughter of a Greek merchant from Smyrna, Asia Minor. Years later, in spring 1776, the Greeks and other immigrants-settlers, moved and settled 70 miles north, to St. Augustine (St. Augustine). There, saved the house of John Giannopoulos, carpenter by profession, but who distinguished himself more as a teacher, as we said Nikolidakis. The house, which is used as a school, are among the historical buildings to visit those who pass by St. Augustine, being the oldest surviving school building in the United States.
“The concept of Hellenism as a cultural and ideological meaning, not exantleito ever in Greece,” says Mr. Nikolidakis, stressing that “the history of Modern Diaspora has not yet been sufficiently explored and there are no valid relevant historiographical studies.”
As part of this need was decided, years ago, writing some books, by country of residence, which would show the main areas of community life. One of these albums, titled “From the Life of the Greeks in America,” has maintained the same Mr Nikolidakis, who has many scientific publications on the training of expatriates.
In 1912 he opened the first day Greek School in New York
“We must honor the efforts to maintain our spiritual wealth in America, they brought in their new home the first immigrants, the poor along with their luggage,” says Mr. Nikolidakis, noting that the agonizing efforts of the first Greek immigrants workers in particular, establishing a daily school, reflected in expatriate newspapers first decades of the twentieth century: “Atlantis”, “National Herald”, “Free Press”, etc.
“It’s humbling that simple and anonymous toiler are those who will first feel the need for establishing a school which, outside the main mission of educating the new generation believed it functioned as a catalyst in the daily and chronic Journal of the Diaspora, “says Mr. Nikolidakis.
On the issue of the newspaper “Atlantis” of October 10, 1910, informs us that “the Greeks chthesinin Assembly of a family of New York, giving rise to the Association of Confectioners patriotikotatos we obtained require longer seems idrysis the Greek school.”
“The term ‘Greek family man’ signifies and identifies the principle of establishing the Diaspora and space, the basic core of Greek society, the family, with their strong bond, elect according to the article, one of the key features of this interest in providing training and education of children, as the only solution to avoid the risk of ‘national expropriation’ “says Mr. Nikolidakis.
“The same belief prevails today, the organized players are still fighting for the preservation of the Greek schools, to prevent the assimilative plague, which has already absorbed thousands of Greeks who are uninvolved in Greek activities,” he adds.
This first Greek school in the Bronx, New York, «Greek American Institute», opened in September 1912 and was to erase a continuous course of 92 years.
The first major donation to the school was that of Confectioners’ Association, referred again to “Atlantis” (06/07/1910). The donation, worth $ 1210, which came from a collection of members of the association can be estimated today as a massive sum, if we consider that the time to rent an apartment amounted to $ 2.5.
The second viopalaiston club, which will seek the path of progress with the establishment of the school, is the “Hellenic Florist New York.” The newspaper “Atlantis”, on 07/08/1910, proudly announces the unification of efforts of both clubs in New York, in an article entitled: “The holy alliance of the school.”
“It stanza and musical paean, that you may dialalithei to the Greek public, through which the Gospel is great joy and great hopes prooionisma because the alliance of two major factors are Community Coalition against aveltirias and drowsiness which owns and holds of years in dormancy ellinikin the great community of New York “features noted for the relevant post.
These two clubs will use every means to raise the necessary funds for the establishment and operation of the school. Even leisure trips will be organized to achieve the holy, as the characteristic target.
These two Associations formed the core and driving force, which dragged the Greek press, agencies “Panhellenic Union” at the beginning, and GAPA (Greek-American Pan-Hellenic Assossiation) then to be concerned with issues of Greek-speaking education.
“And of course this happens when the danger of assimilation was inside the homes of expatriates, since, as we witness the ‘Atlantis’, their kids, as not receiving Greek education, me speechless dumb and incapable of communicating with the parents, ‘”says Mr. Nikolidakis, looking to press reports in the homogeny of the time.
Where church and school
The first immigrants, according to sources, 80% are illiterate laborers. Few have finished elementary school. Many of them learned to read and write Greek as immigrants. Created so the need for Greek books and of course Greek bookstores.
“It’s fantastic that the decade 1910-1920, the ‘heart’ of Manhattan are four Greek bookstores, with a wealth of Greek books magazines,” says Mr. Nikolidakis.
Even though they considered themselves temporary in America, the Greek immigrants in the 19th and 20th century decided to create original church needs worship.
Thus, we find the first church founded in New Orleans in 1864, a period when Greek immigrants should not be exceeded a few hundred across America, says Mr. Nikolidakis.
Between 1892 and 1894, had been founded four churches, including New York and Chicago. With the first major immigration wave of the first decades of the twentieth century, twenty churches were built in America, founded in 1921 in Brooklyn, NY, Seminary «St. Athanasios Seminary ».
“This is the first organized effort to create a productive faculty, which would prepare priests for the needs of the Diaspora,” says Mr. Nikolidakis.
“In 1937 it opened the first theological school in Pomfret, CT, for the preparation of priests, teachers who take the orthodox education of second generation immigrants who have now begun to take root in this country, with guidelines for permanent residence,” he adds.
This was the moment of great speed and great decision, which requires the search of ways, means and methods for maintaining the Greek language, history and culture, Greek values, which for thousands of years are transmitted to succeeding generations through organized education .
Created, so the need to establish schools and teachers that search would take this important project. So, after the organization of each community, the first concern is the church building and establishing the next school.
In this context, the Greek Community of Chicago launches on June 26, 1908 the first day school “Socrates” program to clean up Greek in 1917 and in 1910 founded the Community of St. Constantine and Helena school “Korais.” Meanwhile, in Lowell, Boston will be set up in 1909 the first day school in New England.
And because the language of numbers and statistics characterized language true, Mr. Nikolidakis our statistics indicate the proportion of students and immigrants for the period 1910-1946: “The official total number of Greek immigrants was 244,000, of which 24,000 students. Ie, 10% were pupils and watched Greek school in about 500 schools operating in the communities. ”