The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the world into chaos and put the brakes on our “normal” way of life. Nikolaos Kiannies, the Deputy Principal of St Nicholas Greek school of Yarraville, and Olympia Koziaris, who is currently gathering stories for a local Greek history project, both agree that this may be the ideal time to reach out to our older family members and get to know them better.

“Grandparents have a wealth of knowledge and life experience that they can pass onto their younger family members. Unfortunately, our busy, activity filled lifestyles can distract from quality, meaningful conversations with our elders. If children are not intentional about asking key questions, they may miss a lot of critical information,” said Ms Koziaris.

Mr Kiannies agreed that this was the perfect opportunity for students to get to know their extended family members even better. During Term Three, the 140 students of St Nicholas will be assigned with tasks that will encourage students to engage with Pappou and Yiayia. The students will interview their extended family in a meaningful way will personally benefit each student by helping them discover more about their family history and even more about themselves.

The threat of COVID along with the sterner restrictions on older members of the community was of great concern to Olympia.

“It concerns me that our older Greek community within Maribyrnong are now feeling more isolated than ever before,” she said.

Ms Koziaris has a background in education and is currently gathering stories for a local Greek history project.

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“I’m very interested in reading the stories of our locals and the variety of stories that the kids will be sharing. This is a fantastic opportunity for children to engage in a student-centred enquiry method of learning that will encourage them to seek out their own family’s history.”

St Nicholas has been proactively trialling online learning since last year, before the COVID-19 virus swept the world. The school’s digital pedagogy goal and implementation of Microsoft Teams allowed for a swift transition into online learning.

Mr Kiannies said that the school felt that this proactive undertaking had afforded the school the benefits of online learning since COVID restrictions were implemented during term two.

Ms Koziaris and Mr Kiannies said they hoped all members of the Greek community would use this time to connect with their older family members.

“Call Pappou or Yiayia, to engage in conversations that will help you better understand them, where they came from and about their lives as Australian immigrants. Every one of these brave, courageous people has a unique and very powerful story to tell. Now is the perfect time to have these conversations.”

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