When you think of Greece, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? The rich cultural heritage of the Acropolis of Athens? The various islands for a perfect summer vacation? The origin of Western philosophy and mythology? If you are interested in any of those aspects or even beyond, you should learn more at Brandeis Hellenic Student Association: “It’s all Greek to us.” The club’s founder and president, Ifigenia Oxyzolou ’26 said. The Hoot sat down with Oxyzolou to learn about the Greek community at Brandeis.
The Brandeis Hellenic Student Association is a fairly new club that was founded last semester. As a first-generation Greek-American, Oxyzolou had the feeling of the campus lacking an organization from her similar background. Since coming to Brandeis, she has always been wanting to create an on-campus community for both international students and Greek-Americans. According to Oxyzolou, there are a lot of similar Greek student communities in the Boston area which are all part of a bigger nonprofit organization: the National Hellenic Student Association. Those organizations host conferences and events she was able to go to, so she felt that having one at Brandeis would open up a lot of doors for students here. One of her main goals is to connect with other students at other schools. “Boston-area schools have bigger communities and bigger events,” she said, “so I’ve been able to learn how they have grown their communities and how they plan their semesters out.”
Even though Brandeis Hellenic Student Association is a new club, it still held a lot of fun events last semester. The club’s very first event was for the new year, in which they prepared a Greek New Year’s cake called Vasilopita. “It’s basically just like a New Year’s cake where you hide a coin in it and then whoever gets the piece with the coin is said to have luck for that year,” Oxyzolou told The Hoot. “This is just like a tradition that every family does, but I thought it would be a really nice way to introduce the club. And it was a nice community event where a bunch of my friends came who have no relation to the culture. It was just a nice way to teach people about that.”
Another successful event that the club did was at the end of last semester. They had a flower crown making event which is a spring tradition. Some Greek desserts were also provided. Oxyzolou has gotten great feedback on it, and she is planning to make it a tradition for the club every year.
Oxyzolou also has a lot on her mind this semester. As Bentley University also just started a similar organization, she is planning to collaborate with them and get to co-host an event. She also wants to do a movie night to watch “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3.” Most excitingly, she is planning to do an event with Chillbox, a Brandeis favorite Greek froyo place.
Oxyzolou’s favorite part of the club has been getting to know people who never had exposure to her culture before. She loves to see them learn and get excited about the same things she is familiar with and get to share with them. As the founder of the club, she also loved seeing it grow. As starting a club from the ground up is a long process, seeing how it changes and learning new things is also very rewarding to her.
The biggest challenge she has had is organization, such as organizing meetings to make that process streamlined since the club is still being established. Also, being the solo founder of the club, Oxyzolou thinks it would have been different if she founded the club with a group of people. She has gotten interest from people for joining or helping out, but she was the one who had to take the initiative to plan everything out. In the future, she sees the challenge from finding and connecting with underclassmen, in order to find someone who will be able to take on the new responsibility after her.
Overall, Oxyzolou sees the club grow in a very positive way. In the new semester, the Brandeis Hellenic Student Association will continue to bring out cultural events surrounding holidays to celebrate and share traditions, having tasty Greek food and providing cultural enrichment and networking value with other schools.