Hellenic Orthodox Club of Ikaros – The Knight News

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Hospitality – the cornerstone of modern Greek identity.

The Queens College Ikaros Hellenic Orthodox Club has given Greek American and non-Greek students the opportunity to participate in a rich heritage deeply rooted in tradition.

Originally founded in the 1980s, the club continues to be a fixture of the Queens College community, allowing Greek American students to reconnect with their culture while helping to foster a sense of camaraderie with Greeks from other CUNY universities. “I remember meeting the club’s first president last summer in Greece,” said president Maritsa Koutsouras. The knight’s news. “As the club has been around for a long time, there is a deep historical and cultural significance.”

The Ikaros Club integrates ancient aesthetics with modern culture to create an inviting space that is not only open to all, but educational for all students involved. Koutsouras further explained this dynamic: “The Ikaros club is about getting American Greeks, Cypriots, Greeks from Greece, and people generally interested in Greek culture to be part of a παρέα. [fellowship], organizing cultural events and a space where people can talk to each other. I

Closely associated with the Byzantine department, the organization was able to co-organize various large events based on topics such as art history, Greek independence day, Pascha (Greek Easter) and even the visit of Greek students at Queens College itself.

“We have a lot of historic events that highlight our Greek heritage and make us proud to be Greek,” says Vice President Stephanie Szypylka. “Because Queens College is a diverse school, coming here exposes you to anyone and anything. It brought me closer to my Greek culture. The events we organize are very educational, and it’s a dynamic of people who want to know more about Greece while showing that pride.

The first festival of Queens College Ikaros Hellenic Orthodox Club. The event was founded by former President Demetrakis Jimmy Papamiltiades (1992-93). More than 400 people participated in the dance above. Photo credit: Queens College Ikaros Club Facebook group.

Although COVID-19 has made it difficult for the club to establish a campus presence, it hasn’t deterred members from celebrating their culture. Greece being a relatively small country, the diaspora has always made a conscious effort to perpetuate the customs. From listening to Greek music to participating in traditional dances, engaging with heritage is an important dynamic that has left an impression at Queens College.

Koutsouras acknowledged this impression: “Many Greeks also resonate with the language, because it makes them feel more connected to their culture. The fact that I can go to Greece and communicate with my family, some of whom don’t even speak English, is so important. We are a small country, so it is very easy for culture and traditions to get lost.

“Even though we are Greek, that doesn’t mean the club isn’t open to non-Greek students,” said secretary Demi Kapetanakis. “It’s an important distinction – we’re not a clique.”

The club also enjoys a religious component, with Greek Orthodox Christianity close to the culture. “We take the religious aspect of our culture very seriously,” says Maritsa. “If you look at our history, for 400 years we were under Ottoman slavery, and our ancestors persevered to keep our religion and our language intact. So really, there’s no excuse for us. In the past, a priest came to bless the club room. We are part of the Byzantine Center, so we talk a lot about Pascha. Throughout the year we went to Greek festivals and lit candles in the church. The importance of our faith is definitely something we are all aware of.

As Queens College slowly shifts to in-person operations, the club’s focus has shifted towards involving more members, particularly through social media. Indeed, members of the Ikaros club actively organize coffee parties in popular Greek establishments in New York. “We’re having a coffee party in Astoria later this month, and we’re planning a few big events in the future. Anyone with ideas for potential events can reach out to us on Instagram.

To get involved with Queens College Ikaros Hellenic Orthodox Club, you can follow them on Instagram for updates on upcoming meetings, events and hangouts.

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