Those who attended the first ever Greek Youth Summit at the Mezzanine level of the Greek community centre on Lonsdale Street were left with the greatest impression as a wind of optimism could be felt buzzing through the room.

The enthusiasm was more than obvious by the fact that the event was sold out, with over 100 people from different sectors of the community attending.

Among them was Greek President Bill Papastergiadis, but the majority of the crowd was composed by university students or young people taking their first steps in the business world.

Mr Papastergiadis urged young people to get involved with the Hellenic community. Photo: Neos Kosmos

The evening was presented and coordinated by both Dean Kotsianis and Vasilis Berbatakis, while there was also a panel of four well-established young Greek Australians who offered their input on key issues troubling the community.

The panel was made up of Olympia Nelson, Chris Karkanis, John Leventis and Tass Sgardelis.

In his opening statement, Mr Papastergiadis pointed out the many important challenges the community has already faced and still has ahead of it, stating that his term as president will soon be coming to an end and it may be the young Greek Australians in the room who could be called to take up the mantle.


Main presenter Vasilis Berbatakis and behind him his co-host Dean Kotsianis. Photo: George Lakos

The first topic of the evening was the stigma that may come with being a member of the Greek Australian community and what could be done to deal with this issue.

Later on, the panel suggested ways to interact with their age group in order to get them interested in Greek culture so that all the traditions could be maintained and passed on to future generations.

After a short musical recess, the event continued to discuss ways to bridge the gap and find points of contact between the older generation of Greeks and the new one that will slowly be called to take their place in all main community positions.

The four members of the panel (from left-to-right): Chris Karkanis, Tass Sgardelis, Olympia Nelson and John Leventis. Photo: Neos Kosmos

Towards the end of the evening, the hosts revealed their innovative ideas for the near future, which they hope to achieve by crowdfunding through kickstarter campaigns.

The first of their plans has to do with a Greek history virtual reality program for the HTC VIVE device that could be made available at the Antipodes Lonsdale Street Greek Festival. The second plan concerns a large Greek-themed mural drawn by international artists PichiAvo that would be placed in a central part of the Melbourne CBD, while the third has to do with raising enough funds to host an open barbeque during the Theofania panigyri at Red Hill’s Panagia Kamariani.

The event ended a short while later with many young people commenting positively about the high turnout and level of success the evening was met with, leaving promises for many more to come in the future!