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I have a Hellenic dream...

In anticipation of the National Curriculum for Languages' arrival in Australia

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Smiling, Hellenically inspired youths, hungry for knowledge at a VSL Distance Education Seminar.

04 February 2013

Learn the Hellenic language and culture to improve your English.
Odysseas Elitis (Nobel prize winning Hellenic poet) recognized the value of his Hellenic heritage and the weight of his inheritance of his language and culture.
An equitable, caring and giving world, where white and black men and women, young and old, rich and poor, could share a cup of tea/coffee in the same public space and catch the same bus home, without fear or favour, is taken for granted in Australia today. Nelson Mandela could not do this with his Hellenic friend and colleague, George Bizos in South Africa during apartheid, but in down town, northern and eastern Melbourne there are ample opportunities for such sharing to occur. In fact, the younger generations have become very comfortable in the Hellenic precincts of Oakleigh and Thornbury, that they have lost touch with the struggles of their ancestors.
My Hellenic dream is that the anticipated National Curriculum for Languages within Australian schools across the country will have such a vision. A vision which will enable and inspire the younger generations, living and learning in the Australian context to be provided with and challenged to take on such a Hellenic journey.
Hellenism, without any doubt, has influenced and shaped the western world today, with its language, civilisation, literature, arts, drama, democracy, mathematics, science, philosophy, architecture, Olympic Games and so much more...
Melbourne had been tagged as the third largest speaking city in the world, after Athens and Thessaloniki. The Hellenic dream began from antiquity, when migration was a way of life, as it remains in Australia, in contrast to the difficult times the mother country, Greece, is facing today. The latest wave of mass migration from Greece, witnessed in our city and across Australia, as we enter 2013, brings promise of a refreshed and invigorated Hellenism within the Diaspora in the Antipodes, reflecting the glories of Alexandria in Egypt.
It should be acknowledged that after more than one hundred years of Hellenic influence in Melbourne, as a community we have the right to be very proud of all our achievements and contributions to this great city. It is also realistic to anticipate and share a vision within the educational arena, where such influences are formally etched into the hearts and minds of our young. As a community, we have arrived at a point of maturity and dual citizenship that we can share and live within both identities, as respectable Australian citizens, who bring a plethora of linguistic and cultural delights to the smorgasbord which is called Multicultural Australia.
Imagine and share the Hellenic vision and ideals, inspiring and educating those around you, especially the young, as Socrates did, without fear or favour.
Allow me to take you on a Hellenic tour of Melbourne.
· The Classical Architecture of the Shrine of Remembrance, Parliament House, the Victorian Museum and much more...
· Modern and Classical Greek language and culture classes being taught to all within Government, Church and Community schools
· Hellenic cultural events and festivals held by the numerous associations and organisations in public streets and parks that the younger generations are taking leadership of (positive role models are the many Pontian, Cretan, Cypriot, Macedonian, islander and Peloponnesian Associations)
· The integration and acceptance of Hellenic coffee, cakes and cuisine as exotic and desired
· The dynamic and living Hellenic language spoken in public and private without prejudice or reprimand of years gone by
· The plethora of Greek-Australian and Hellenic print and electronic media
· Satellite Hellenic television and radio heard and accessible in homes and publically
· The ease and availability of Hellenic information, news and entertainment, at our fingertips with the accessibility of the internet, social media and the progress of technology, which makes us a global village
The Hellenic climate in Melbourne has never been so accessible, desired and dynamic for young and old, of all backgrounds. The most exciting challenge, however remains the education and influence upon young minds and spirits within our educational setting to promote and inspire Philhellenes like Gough Whitlam (past Prime Minister of Australia). If knowledge is power, let's prepare well for the arrival of the National Australian Curriculum and let's enable European and Asian languages to be given equal value, so that our future generations become polylingual citizens of the globe, with the cognitive capacity of broadening their horizons and engaging them in international pursuits, far beyond any previous generations could have ever imagined...
We must not limit the opportunities we offer our children, but we should not overburden them either and allow them to live, play and imagine the world through their own needs and experience. The National Curriculum cannot be limited to single languages or views of the world and its peoples. Hellenism has had for many years and will continue to have a major influence within educational circles. Let's hope that the vision is broad and enlightened enough to allow for Hellenism to be integrated within the curriculum across the school experience, so that this proud nation, Australia continues to grow and hold onto its global status in order to inspire other nations on how men and women from every corner of the globe, every religion, language, colour, race, political persuasion, economic background, sex, age and ability can live in harmony and mutual respect like never before in history.
Kazantzakis' (famous Hellenic writer of "Zorba the Greek" and much, much more) brings us to another level of philosophical exchange within the Hellenic framework with his epilogue, etched onto his tomb stone which provides us with much food for thought , "I fear nothing, I expect nothing, I am free".
The journey has only just begun. The challenges are many and the inspiration great! Let's share in the vision and the values, making our Australian schools leaders in such pursuits of the mind and spirit. This will be the greatest investment we can make for a better world.
Maria Foscolos, Greek Teacher and Course Writer, Victorian School of Languages - Distance Education, mariaf@vsl.vic.edu.au

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