I love being a Pitt Panther. I go to football games, proudly wear blue and gold, and even buy my goddaughters, both age one, matching Pitt gear, with hopes that they will be Panthers one day too. The hype is collective, exciting, and gives most people a sense of community . . .
Fortunately for me, I had this “sense of community” before I set foot on campus—thanks to my OCF in Pittsburgh.
I learned about OCF through word of mouth at first, and then officially at the activities fair at the Petersen Events Center during Orientation Week. When I went to my first meeting, I was thrilled to see some familiar faces from previous church-related functions, and also some new faces (which meant new friends). Everyone was so friendly—the upperclassmen, especially, were encouraging, always smiling, and created a genuinely welcoming atmosphere. At the end of the first meeting, I had dinner plans and a movie night set up for the following week with the new friends I had made. A few months later, we had an OCF milkshake party at an OCF member’s home. It had only been a few weeks, but I felt like I knew these new friends for a lifetime.
In addition to the all of the social outings newly added to my calendar, OCF helped me keep my faith central, especially when my schoolwork seemed to never cease. The themes and lessons I had learned in OCF during my busiest times are the lessons that have stayed with me to date. In all the times I felt like I was in overdrive, OCF brought me peace of mind and peace of heart. Sometimes, the best remedy for my stress was to attend the Small Paraklesis on Thursday evening and sing to the Panagia for a little while. Singing “O Pure Virgin” all together with my new OCF friends was, is, and always will be more comforting than grabbing that extra cup of coffee and attempting to study with a distracted mind.
There is also something about having Orthodox friends that I have tried to explain for my whole life—perhaps this is what I mean when I say “I felt like I knew these new friends for a lifetime.” Faith certainly brings people together, but we all know that we do not live by faith alone. Our actions—our lifestyle, our personality, our mindset—are also an important part of living an Orthodox Christian life. Perhaps this is why OCF is so comforting—we all share the same values. Finding people who share the same values in a sea of diversity on campus is very special and very comforting for me.
I am thankful for and feel privileged to be a part of my OCF here at Pitt. Although “Hail to OCF” doesn’t quite fit, I am an OCF-loving Panther, and I couldn’t be happier!
Georgia Vasilakis is a sophomore Neuroscience major at the University of Pittsburgh and is an active member of the Pitt/CMU OCF chapter. Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Ambridge, PA is her home parish; however, while in school, she attends liturgy at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Oakland and sings in the choir. Georgia enjoys coffee, Disney movies, and color-coordinating her notebooks each semester.