Achievements of the Cretan Community
The Pancretan Association of America throughout History
From its beginning through today the PAA has continuously supported: Education, Culture, Church and Philanthropy. Some of the contributions of the PAA include:
Education is deeply rooted in the Hellenic culture and every family strives to educate its young. The immigrants to the New World were no exception and today American-Hellenes are rated the number one ethnic group in educational accomplishments.
- A scholarship program set up in the mid 1930's has collected and distributed over $1,000,000 to over 1000 deserving American-Cretan students to help them get a college education and a chance for a better life. To fund this program our members pay annual scholarship dues through their chapters. Also, an endowment fund has been set up where generous members and friends can contribute and have annual scholarships given in memory of a loved one. Today this endowment is funded with over $400,000.
- Since the late 1950's the PAA lobbied the Greek Government to create a University in Crete. The dream materialized in the early 1970's and the PAA set up an endowment fund (PEF) to support programs that enhance education at the University of Crete. The University Press was one of the first programs supported and has been funded with over $550,000 to date. This endeavor has proven to be a big success, which has enhanced the prestige of the UC and caused other Universities in Greece to follow suit.
- The PAA supported Dr. John Nathenas in a Herculean effort to get the Universities in Greece to open their doors to American students for summer courses. This required the changing of Greek National laws. Summer courses give the opportunity to foreign students, and especially Hellenes of the Diaspora, to study in Greece for a couple months in the summer and even earn college credits. George Papandreou, the Minister of Education of Greece, funded a pilot program of summer courses (DIAS) at the University of Crete with $250,000. The PAA, through the PEF, has funded the DIAS program annually since its inception in 1994; this support to date amounts over $150,000. Thus far, over 150 students from America have gone through this program.
- The PAA, through the PEF, funded with $10,000 the start of the Ophthalmology Center (BEMMO) at the UC, which has proven to be very successful and beneficial to the health care of the people of Crete.
- Annually a scholarship is given to a seminarian student of Cretan lineage from a fund set up by the PAA with the Holy Cross Theological School in Boston.
Cretan culture, the oldest in Europe, is very rich and in some ways unique. The PAA is its only steward in America with the mission to enjoy it, preserve it and pass it on to future generations for their enjoyment.
- Many of our chapters conduct classes to teach our youth Cretan dances and music.
- A national convention is held every two years, which lasts for a week. Many social and cultural activities are undertaken that feature our Cretan culture. This includes dance performances of our youth groups from various chapters, music, poetry, art, literature, handicrafts, theater and others. Delegates come from each chapter to set general policy and elect all the national officers that will run the PAA for the following two years.
- Cultural events, which last for a couple days, are also conducted at least biannually in each of the seven geographic districts of the PAA.
- Many of our chapters conduct regular public cultural activities and celebrations of historical events like the start of the liberation of Greece from Turkey on 25th of March, the Battle of Crete on the 20th of May, the 28th of October and the holocaust of Arkadi on November 9th.
- The PAA brings theater plays from Crete like "Erotocritos" and "Zoi se Logou Mas" that tour the country.
- The PAA organizes visits and camps for our youth in Crete to discover firsthand our roots.
- A gift of $80,000 in 1996 to erect the statue of Spiro Kagiale at Akrotiri Crete.
- The PAA raised $50,000 to assist AHEPA to build the New Smyrna Monument which commemorates and honors the memory and struggle of the first large Hellenic group to immigrate to the new world in the year 1768. In this monument the PAA also honored seven outstanding Cretan-Americans:
- Luis Tikas, union organizer 1914
- Nick Galifianakis, the first American born Hellene in the US Congress 1966
- Constantinos Papadakis, President of Drexel University
- Harry Mark Petrakis, Author
- Mike Manatos, Presidential Liaison to the US Senate 1961-1968
- Andrew Manatos, Assistant Secretary of Commerce 1976
- George Filippakis, Iconographer
- The PAA works with other Hellenic organizations to remind our fellow Americans that as ancient Greece defined freedom for mankind, modern Greece saved freedom for mankind by its actions and great sacrifice in World War II. A book on this subject "Greece's Pivotal Role in World War II and its Importance to the US Today" was sent by the PAA to each and every US Senator.
- The PAA has established a Cretan culture endowment fund where generous members and friends can contribute to promote the teaching and continuation of our culture and traditions in America. Today this endowment fund has over $100,000.