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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Greek-American Student Association shares culture on campus

10th annual My Big Fat Greek Food Festival held at St. Joe’s

The smell of gyros and baklava filled the chilly morning air and traditional Greek instrumental music rose above the chatter of students moving through campus during free period.

On Tuesday, Nov. 1, the Greek-American Student Association [GASA] held its 10th annual My Big Fat Greek Food Festival in the Campion Courtyard. Not only does the food festival serve as the GASA’s primary fundraiser for the year, but it also shares Greek culture with students of Saint Joseph’s University.

Multicultural organizations such as the GASA make up approximately 15 percent of St. Joe’s student clubs. According to the Office of Student Leadership and Activities’ website, out of 85 clubs and organizations currently registered with the university, 13 celebrate or promote a different culture.

Marissa Karomfily, ’17, co-president of the GASA, said that being a part of one of these organizations that celebrate culture holds a lot of meaning.

“I think exposure to different things in general is always a good thing,” Karomfily said. “This is my culture; this was a big part of growing up, and it’s a big part of my personal identity. So to share that with other people is really exciting, and if other people identify with their own cultures that much and it’s so much of who they are, then I absolutely want to help them celebrate that and share that knowledge with other people on campus who might not have had that opportunity.”

For the GASA, this cultural celebration and sharing occurs at their annual fundraiser and food festival.

In the downtime between making gyros and wrapping up Greek cookies for rushes of students and professors hungry for lunch, officers of the GASA shared their experience putting the event together and how they believe it impacts Saint Joseph’s.

“You have to get all the donations from different Greek restaurants,” said Yiannis Michailides, ’17, president and treasurer of the GASA. “So we got lettuce, tomato, and onions from Little Pete’s in Philly, we got the drinks from Sun Valley [Pizza], the pita bread is from Astra [Foods], the yiddle meat is from Overbrook Pizza, and the baklava is from Boston Style Pizza I believe. We have to get all the club members to help organize, set up, and work the event.”

According to Karomfily the club has about 30 members, and any students are welcome to join, Greek or not.

“We’re not a huge group, but I’d say we’re pretty close-knit,” Karomfily said. “Fellowship has always been a really big part of growing up in our church, so it’s really nice to just have that connection coming in.”

Dori Pappas, the administrative assistant in the department of economics, serves as the GASA’s adviser. Like Karomfily, she highlighted the unique experience of many Greek-American students at St. Joe’s.

“Because of the fraternities and sororities, we like to distinguish ourselves as the real Greeks, and that’s how we refer to ourselves,” Pappas said. “I think it’s good for this university to acknowledge Orthodoxy; our students are Greek Orthodox, and we sponsor a lot of interreligious things.”

These interreligious events include an annual educational talk from a Greek Orthodox priest about why the Orthodox Church traditionally celebrates Easter on a different day than the Catholic Church, though both churches are in the Christian tradition.

While My Big Fat Greek Food Festival isn’t a strictly educational event, it does highlight important elements of Greek culture.

“We really like giving back to the community and everyone really looks forward to having a little taste of Greece,” Karomfily said. “It’s a lot of organization, but it always pays off. It just seems like a good thing to do.”

Michailides agreed.

“It’s a good way to have the university experience different cultures,” he said.

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