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Greek Culture On Display In Community Series

'Coming Together,' a six-week series of community, educational and arts events, focuses on Greek Americans this year. Previous years centered on Asian Indians, Filipinos and Assyrians.

 

If you're curious about Greek culture, interested in local Greek Americans or enjoy great stories and performances--or maybe you just like baklava--then the six-week "Coming Together" series has something for you.

A Sunday, Jan. 27 kickoff to the series at Niles West High School in Skokie will feature cultural and arts exhibits and refreshments at 2 p.m., followed at 3 p.m. by a cultural program that includes skits, original short video, music and dance and Greek hors d'oeuvres.

The Coming Together in Skokie (and Niles Township) is focusing on Greek culture this year, after spotlighting Assyrian, Filipino and Asian Indian culture in years past. Niles Township High School District 219, the Skokie Library and the village of Skokie are key participants in the series.

This year, "Coming Together" programs include a visit to the Hellenic Museum in Chicago, a presentation by Iron Chef contestant Chef David Schneider (Taxim’s), a visit to St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church, lectures, presentations, Greek movies and much more.

A full schedule of events can be found here. 

According to organizers, Coming Together is a community-wide celebration designed to promote literacy and to explore in depth a different culture each year. Through reading and discussing selected books and enjoying a host of cultural activities, the community comes together to enjoy its diversity. Although the initiative spotlights a different culture each year, the intended audience is people from all backgrounds, especially people who may not be familiar with the featured culture.

“We would like everyone who lives in Skokie and the neighboring communities to come and take part in these wonderful activities,” said Susan Van Dusen, First Lady of Skokie and one of the initiative’s founders.

Featured books and authors

The featured books this year are: 

  • The Green Shore by Natalie Bakopoulos. In her debut novel, Bakopoulos vividly illuminates a little-explored moment in Greek history: the 1967 military coup d’état, which ushered in a seven-year period of devastating brutality and repression. We follow the adventures of one family, whose stories of love and resistance play out against the backdrop of this turbulent period.
  •  War Games by Audrey Couloumbis and Akila Couloumbis. (For middle school readers.) The book explores the Nazi occupation of a Greek village as told by a young boy. Ms. Couloumbis wrote the book with her husband Akila (now deceased). The book is based upon his experiences as a boy living in Greece during World War II.
  •  Marianthe’s Story: Painted Words and Spoken Memories, by Aliki. (For primary grade readers.) This book in Greek and English shows the difficulties a child faces when coming to a new land. Returning to her own childhood for inspiration, Aliki has created an exceptional book that presents Marianthe’s story – her present and her past.Natalie Bakopoulos and Audrey Couloumbis will be coming to our schools and our libraries to discuss their books.

In its first year, CTIS featured the Asian-Indian community and the novel Motherland by Vineeta Vijayaraghavan. In 2011 CTIS showcased the Filipino-American community, and several books by Filipino authors, including When the Rainbow Goddess Wept by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard and Willie Wins by Almira Astudillo Gilles. Last year, featuring the Assyrian community, the selected books were Home is Beyond the Mountain by Celia Barker Lottridge and Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees by Deborah Ellis. Each year, the authors have participated and shared their writing techniques and knowledge of their respective history and culture.

 

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