Koraes School Students Visit the Research Center

On Friday, February 10th, 2023, thirty-four students, two teachers and ten parents from Koraes St. Constantine and Helen of Palos Hills, Illinois visited our Research Center. On behalf of the Research Board, George Mavropoulos, president of AMPRC welcomed everyone and thanked teachers Stavros Kariofilis and Vivian Nielstrom who took the initiative to organize the visit. In his welcoming remarks, Mr. Mavropoulos stated, “It would be wonderful for other schools to follow Koraes example to visit the Center.”


He continued to remark on the history and contributions of the Greeks of Asia Minor and Pontos as an important chapter in the Greek history and western world. Mavropoulos stated, “Today, you will learn the accomplishments of the well-known Greeks in Asia Minor who contributed to philosophy, math, science, and civilization in general.  Unfortunately, 100-years ago the 3,000 -year presence of the Greeks in Asia Minor and Pontos come to an end.

Those who survived after the catastrophic events in 1913-1923 are forced to leave their homeland and become refugees in other countries and mainly Greece. My parents who were from Pontos were forced to leave their village and to arrive in Greece in 1923.”

Mavropoulos continued, “Early last year, I was invited to visit your school to review your historic exhibit on the occasion of the 100 -year of the Smyrna’s catastrophe and the end of Greek presence in Asia Minor. Your work was impressive; I am delighted to see your involvement and care for this important chapter of our history. Today you will learn more from our educator Ms. Anastasia Spiridis who is a high school teacher, president of the Pontian Greek Society of Chicago and board member of the Research Center. For years she has been participating in workshops with other educators from the Holocaust education group as well as the Armenians and other ethnic groups presenting the story of the Greeks of Asia Minor.”

With the direction of Anastasia Spiridis, participating students learned about the early history of the Greeks, the great thinkers of Asia Minor, and the historical events which ended the Greek presents in Asia Minor. Through engaging activities and group discussions, students embraced the essence of the Center’s educational program. As a culminating activity, the students listened to the Pontian lyra and daouli while they learned to dance Dipat, a popular Pontian dance.

“Students were engaged in their group activities which was so exciting to experience,” states Anastasia Spiridis. “Not many know of this forgotten part of history, and it is thrilling having this opportunity to teach our history to the next generation. We must continue this important educational piece to ensure the world knows about the genocide of the Greeks.”

Elizabeth Christofylidis, school board chairman of Koraes elementary school stated, “It was an amazing experience to come and visit the Asia Minor and Pontos Hellenic Research Center of Chicago and to see an absolutely enlightening presentation part of history that younger students are unfamiliar with. It is an excellent opportunity to come here to see the Center and the information presented an also hearing an excellent presentation and the kids had the opportunity to integrate the activities into smaller groups looking at philosophers and firsthand accounts of genocide and even ending the session with the traditional Pontian dance. It was absolutely a wonderful opportunity for the kids to learn about our history. At Koraes school we are helping our kids to learn not only the Greek language and also learn the history and culture. I truly feel that it is incredibly important to know where you come from and to know your history, our culture. I feel very grateful that the Research Center provided that opportunity today. I am absolutely recommend this to teachers ..it is a great opportunity to integrity this into our history and get firsthand account of information.”

Σταύρος Καροφίλης επικεφαλής του Ελληνικού τμήματος του σχολείου Κοραής είπε ..βρεθήκαμε σήμερα στο Ελληνικό  Κέντρο Έρευνας για την Μικρά Ασία και το Πόντο μαζί με τους μαθητές διότι με  πρέπει με κάποιο τρόπο με όλες μας τις δυνάμεις και με αγάπη προς την ιστορία μας και την παράδοση μας να προσεγγίσουμε την μαύρη περίοδο της Ελληνικής ιστορίας και να στηρίξουμε παράλληλα τους οργανισμούς που βοηθούν στην διατήρηση της μνήμης για τα όσα υπέφεραν οι πρόγονοι μας. Η σημερινή μας παρουσία εδώ σηματοδοτεί επίσης και την ένωση που υπάρχει μεταξύ του σημερινού Ελληνισμού , του Ελληνισμού που βρίσκεται πολύ μακριά από την πατρίδα με την ιστορία και με την προγονική μας παρακαταθήκη. Είναι εξαιρετική η δουλειά που γίνετε στο Κέντρο για τον Μικρασιατικό και Ποντιακό Ελληνισμό. Υπάρχει ένα εξαιρετικά ενδιαφέρον υλικό. Υπάρχει μια αγάπη και μια αφοσίωση προς την ιστορία και ιδιαίτερα την ιστορία του Μικρασιατικού και Ποντιακού Ελληνισμού και θέλω να πιστεύω ότι οι μαθητές μου σήμερα είχαν μια πρώτης τάξεως ευκαιρία για να γνωρίσουν όχι μόνο το τι υπέφεραν οι πρόγονοί μας αλλά να γνωρίσουν τον πολιτισμό τους, να γνωρίσουν την γλώσσα που μιλούσαν, να γνωρίσουν πολιτιστικές πλευρές της ζωής τους για παράδειγμα ο χορός και τα μουσικά όργανα και έτσι να φτάσουνε οι μαθητές σε μια ολική κατανόηση στο ποιοι ήταν αυτοί οι άνθρωποι στη Μικρά  Ασία και τον Πόντο. Δυο γεωγραφικές περιοχές στις οποίες υπάρχει μακραίων ελληνική παρουσία τις οποίες αυτές περιοχές.

Θα ήθελα να ευχαριστήσω τον κ. Μαυρόπουλο  και την εκπαιδευτικό κυρία Αναστασία Σπυρίδη που καθοδήγησε τα παιδιά σ’ αυτήν την παρουσίαση και να ευχηθώ να υπάρξουν και άλλα σχολεία να επισκεφτούν το Κέντρο και να γίνει μια συνολική προσπάθεια στήριξης του Κέντρου και της δουλειάς που κάνει πάνω στην διατήρηση της ιστορικής και πολιτιστικής κληρονομιάς.