By Salvatore Ferraioli
When you hear the term “Greek life” around campus, the first thought that comes to mind generally involves fraternities and sororities. What you may not know, however, is that there is a Hellenic Society on campus dedicated to Greek culture and cuisine. On Thursday, April 21, the organization hosted its fourth annual Greek Fest.
Dozens of students gathered in room 212 of the Education Building to celebrate Greek lifestyle with authentic food, music and dancing. The Hellenic Society spared no expense when it came to showing the campus community all that Greek culture has to offer. The room was decorated with Greek flags and blue and white balloons, as well as with photographs of Greek landmarks.
An extensive buffet was offered featuring a dozen different Greek items, such as Greek lasagna, pastitsio, spanakopita spinach pie and dolmades, which are stuffed grape leaves. Baklava pastries complete with nuts and syrup were served for dessert, alongside shortbread butter cookies, known as kourambiethes.
“As a proud European, it’s definitely cool to see this kind of stuff on campus,” freshman business major Alec Lipanovski said.
The real treat, however, was a live performance from the TerpsiXorians Hellenic Dance Group of New Jersey. The group specializes in Greek folk dance and performs at festivals, weddings and other cultural events.
The group’s 45-minute routine at Greek Fest showcased traditional Greek dance moves and apparel. Six men and seven women performed for the audience. Live music was played during the dance by two others, one of whom played the clarinet while the other played a hand drum. The men sported dress shirts and vests during the performance, while the women wore colorful dresses and matching headdresses.
“It’s a great way to connect to the culture,” said 23-year-old TerpsiXorians member Dean Petikas, who has been doing Greek dancing for eight years and is a third-generation Greek American. “That’s hard to do without speaking the language.”
Toward the end of the routine, the TerpsiXorians invited the College crowd to join them. Members of the Hellenic Society quickly got up and joined the dance circle, clapping and stepping along to the beat of traditional Greek music.
Katerina Lallos, a freshman psychology major and TCNJ Hellenic Society member, said many of the freshman involved in the organization met in youth group during high school. The Hellenic Society allows them to stay in touch with their heritage, as well as one another.
“It’s just a fun way to stay connected,” Lallos said.
The Hellenic Society is open to those “Greek by blood or Greek by heart.” The purpose of the organization is to share and celebrate Greek culture with the rest of the campus community. While Greek Fest is the organization’s only yearly event, its members encourage anyone interested in Greek culture and learning more about it to attend their weekly meetings.