On Sunday afternoon, May 7, 2017, “The Immigrant Experience,” the 3rd Annual Photo Contest and Tour of the Greek American Heritage Society of Philadelphia (GAHSP) was hosted at Cooper Hospital in Camden, NJ. Guests were given the opportunity to witness the experiences of immigrants and first generation Greeks through the 35 mostly black-and-white images that were submitted by Greek Americans throughout the Delaware Valley. The guests explored notable photographs of the Greek community of Philadelphia, with a special focus on historic Greektown.
The emcee for the afternoon, Harry Karapalides, introduced board member Leftheri Kostans, of Cosmos Philly, who spoke about the Philadelphia Interview Series, a partnership between GAHSP and Cosmos Philly, now in its 5th year, which captures the stories of individuals, that helped form today’s Greek community. A short film featured the “Best Of Interviews 2016″, while Kostans explained the process of recording oral histories.
Guest lecturers expanded on the history of the Greek community. Dr. Kostis Kourelis of Franklin & Marshall College discussed the geographic settlements of early Greeks around St. Greektown. That was followed by Dr. Tom Papadimitriou of Stockton College, who had high praises for GAHSP’s organization of this groundbreaking event. Chris Christakis and Nick Yiantsos of the Heritage Society also spoke about ongoing projects and outlined the future plans of the organization.
A surprise donation of historic documents was then made by Tinka Mandrinodinkas, whose grandfather was one of the original 7 founders of St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral. She turned over the handwritten mortgage from 1921 when St. Andrew Episcopal Church was purchased and converted to St. George for $105,000.
Chris Kotsakis, one of the organizers of the Photo Tour, concluded the lecture portion, by sharing his own story about how he became part of the organization after being at a previous photo tour. Awards were presented in several categories, including family, society or organization, artistic or amusing, A personal photograph or portrait, patriotic subject, friends, churches or religious, youth, and famous person.
The evening concluded with the presentation of the People’s Choice Award, which was given to a photo of three friends in the military during WWII. With brilliant smiles and arms entwined, Christina Katsapis and Georgia Chletcos, the daughters of two of the men explained that the photo was taken in front of St. George Cathedral and the audience was moved to tears as they went on to say “that the men remained friends throughout their lives, followed by their daughters, who are also lifelong friends”.