Lesser-Known Group Honors Greek Culture in Tucson

By Karamargin, Cj | AZ Daily Star, September 29, 2014 | Go to article overview

Lesser-Known Group Honors Greek Culture in Tucson


Karamargin, Cj, AZ Daily Star


Thousands of Greeks and non-Greeks alike flocked to the 38th Tucson Greek Festival this past weekend, eager to sip from the overflowing cup of Greek culture. The four-day showcase of food, music and traditions is one of our community's most popular fall events.

Another group of philhellenes will get together next month to celebrate an equally significant accomplishment, one that is less well-known than the festival, but which also plays a leading role in promoting Greek culture in Southern Arizona.

The Hellenic Cultural Foundation was founded 30 years ago to advance the study of Greek language and culture at the University of Arizona and other institutions. Students from Tucson and across the country have benefited from Foundation scholarships. Some are of Greek ancestry, others are not. All share a desire to learn more about a civilization that, as the poet W.H. Auden suggested, allowed us to become "fully conscious."

A "Legacy Dinner" will be held Oct. 4 at the Skyline Country Club to honor the far-sighted men and women who gave birth to the idea of a local foundation to advance academic excellence in what is known as Hellenic Studies.

They included UA professors like David Soren and Richard Kinkade, restaurateurs like Mary Gekas, Pete Kotzambasis and James Sfarnas, and the Rev. Anthony Moschonas of St. Demetrios.

As a 1985 story in the Arizona Daily Star recounted, the original goal of the foundation was to fund a chair in modern Greek studies within the UA's classics department. But it didn't take long for the group to be "seduced by the romance and importance" of archaeological work being pursued by faculty members on Cyprus.

Since then, the foundation has awarded nearly 100 scholarships to students studying Greek language and civilization, and helped advance our knowledge of ancient Greece by providing students with a hands-on opportunity to probe the past. …

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