It’s often easy to forget where we come from, living so far away from the homeland of our parents or grandparents. Even though celebrations like Easter, Christmas, our name days and other historical or religious holidays are times in which we are reminded of our culture and traditions, I’d argue we somewhat forget it in the other days of the year. It is for this reason that community groups like NUGAS are so important for Greek Australians.
Being a part of a community and having a sense of belonging is central to what makes us human. With the way that COVID has affected our lives and our mental health, being a member of a community can make us feel as if though we are a part of something larger than ourselves. Growing up as Greek Australians, we’d all have similar memories and stories about our youth and yiayiades and pappoudes. Not only is being a member of a Greek-Australian organisation a reminder of our heritage, but it’s also a celebration of it.
For those that never had the opportunity to learn Greek or be overly exposed to it in their youth, being a member of a group like NUGAS offers students the perfect entrance point to embrace their culture and Greek heritage. With social events like the Annual NUGAS Ball, the Boat Cruise, Trivia Nights and Networking events, organisations like NUGAS offer the perfect environment to connect with and celebrate our cultures and make connections that you’ll have for the rest of your life.
Going to NUGAS events and joining the committee has completely changed my university experience. Especially with university being online for the past two years due to the lockdowns in Melbourne, university life has been somewhat non-existent. But with my participation in NUGAS, not only have I been able to make incredible friends, but I’ve been able to learn more about myself and my Greek heritage. Earlier in the year, I co-wrote an article with two other NUGAS committee members about our previously unknown family connections after talking about our shared heritage in Limnos. If it wasn’t for each of us joining the NUGAS committee this year, we wouldn’t have made the connections that we’ll maintain for the rest of our lives.
Aristotle once said, “One citizen differs from another, but the salvation of the community is the common business of them all.” Whilst I’m no philosopher, I interpret this to mean that whilst every person is unique, our community is what connects us together and it is our collective spirit and pride in our community that is stronger than any single person.
Like other community groups, NUGAS is lucky to have an already established social media presence with the ability to reach thousands of university students and Greek youth at the click of a button. As such, NUGAS offers us a platform to make a difference, whether it be spreading awareness, organising events, offering assistance or simply providing a safe space to our members to embrace who we are as Greek Australians.