Queensland’s Greek community in the South East has seen its tireless efforts to campaign for Modern Greek come to fruition with the inclusion of online Modern Greek courses in 2014 at Griffith University. Griffith University language students will soon benefit from new courses and scholarships arising from a tertiary partnership between the university and the Greek community.
The online Modern Greek courses will begin in 2014 and, given Greece’s status as the birthplace of democracy, reflect a fittingly democratic collaboration between Griffith University and South Australia’s Flinders University.
Representatives of the Greek community, government and education gathered in Brisbane on Tuesday to celebrate the launch of new tertiary language courses in Modern Greek.
Guests at the gala function held at The Greek Club in South Brisbane included Griffith University’s Pro Vice Chancellor (Arts, Education and Law) Professor Paul Mazerolle, his Flinders University counterpart Professor Richard Maltby, and the Honorary Consul-General of Greece in Queensland, Mr Jim Raptis.
Griffith’s Dean (Learning and Teaching) of Arts, Education and Law, Professor Glenn Finger, said the new courses demonstrated contemporary online learning innovation.
“The opportunity was enabled as Flinders University in South Australia received significant funding from the South Australian government and Greek government to develop Modern Greek online units,” Professor Finger said.
“A working party was formed comprising senior members of the Greek community, along with Griffith University’s Head of the School of Languages and Linguistics, Professor Cliff Goddard, and Professor Michael Tsianikas from Flinders’ Department of Language Studies.
“That led to an agreement with Flinders to teach and assess students in ten courses constituting a Modern Greek specialisation in the Bachelor of Arts in Languages and Linguistics.”
Meanwhile, the Greek community has also established a foundation to provide up to six scholarships each year and to assist with the promotion of Modern Greek.
“The Greek community has such a strong cultural heritage and a firm partnership with Griffith. The Lexion Foundation exemplifies both,” Professor Finger said.
The new courses are seen as a milestone in the Greek community’s Queensland history and both Griffith and Flinders believe they will draw interest from, and have applications and benefits in, the wider community.
John Kotzas is the Chief Executive of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, but in his teaching days introduced Greek to Brisbane State High School students.
“I think Modern Greek is a significant and worthwhile development and not just because of my Greek heritage,” Mr Kotzas said.
“To study a language is to be granted entry to another world. It’s a passport to opportunities that are already there and opportunities that you create.”
Meanwhile, long-time stalwart of the Greek community, Beulah Castan, hailed the years of dedicated teamwork behind the establishment of Modern Greek and acknowledged the “virtual classroom” as a means for language learning to flourish.
“For Greeks, the maintenance of the language means learners can access a greater cultural awareness and learn more about their history, geography, mythology, philosophers and literature by reading their own works in their own language,” Mrs Castan said.
“But in all cases, language is a tool for connection, and mastery of a language enriches us by explaining a culture more fully, breaking down barriers and creating better and more understanding global citizens.”