As we commence 2022, I would like to provide the community with an update on the Greek Studies program at La Trobe. Last year the trend in increasing student numbers continued. In 2021, we had a total of 70 Greek language students from La Trobe and other universities, and our three postgraduates continued their work, adding to the research being conducted by the program. They gave public talks on their topics from October to December: Sofia Chaniotaki on incorporating literature into Greek language teaching; Emmanouela Giannoulidou on literature on the Spanish and Greek Civil Wars; and Panagiotis Pantazis on Greek – Turkish relations. Three undergraduate students were awarded Victorian government scholarships (Georgia Lazarakis, Penelope Vakalopoulos, Kayla Careri) and four students received the Vassilogianis Awards for Excellence in Greek Studies (Fokion Sapountzis, Evanthia Katsoulis, Cameron Symons, Georgina Giannopoulos).
The Steering Committee set up by La Trobe to support the program has been working on a number of initiatives: for instance, in collaboration with the MGTAV, we held four virtual school excursions to Greek Studies at La Trobe, informing students of their options for Greek beyond high school and providing them with a taste of Beginners and Advanced level classes. My thanks to my colleague Dr Dimitri Gonis for his assistance, to Ms Anita Ladas, President of the MGTAV, for organising these sessions, to all our students who graciously volunteered their time to share their thoughts about the program, and to all the teachers and students who attended. We have also commenced internships with community businesses to connect students with the workforce, highlighting the value of their language skills and cultural awareness in our multicultural society. We will hold a public forum to inform interested people about our activities and plans, once the COVID situation improves.
In December 2021 we introduced a new virtual Greek Study Tour which attracted students of different backgrounds to explore the vibrant culture of the Greeks across time and space, from the Bronze Age to the present day and from the Mediterranean to Melbourne. We are grateful to Ms Jaqui Preketes, manager of Touchdown Tours, Melbourne, for working with us on the subject, to Assistant Professor Thanassis Agathos from The University of Athens and to Professor Eleni Griva and her students from The University of Western Macedonia for the wonderful experiences they offered our students, exchanging knowledge and opinions concerning language acquisition, identity, and intercultural learning. We also warmly thank Ms Syrmo Kapoutsi from the Consulate for conducting weekly oral classes for our students last year.
This year, 2022, marks 40 years of Greek Studies at La Trobe University. We have been working hard to build on the foundations laid by our predecessors, a host of exceptional tertiary Greek language educators, whom we sincerely thank. We also acknowledge those groups and individuals who have recently expressed their support financially and by other means. Our focus has been to enhance our offerings and to increase the number of student enrolments, which will be critical to the final decision next year (2023) by the university on the future of the program. It would be a tragedy if we were to lose the Greek Studies program at La Trobe University, a university that has been rightly characterised by Dr Gonis as “the most ‘Greek’ of all Australia’s universities” in terms of its architecture and history (Herald Sun 23 Nov, 2020). The Greek Studies program collaborates with the Dardalis Archives of the Hellenic Diaspora and attracts students from around Victoria.
A plea again to everyone, to encourage your children and grandchildren to study Greek at La Trobe and to contact us if you or they have questions about the enrolment process. We need enrolments to secure the future of the program. We thank you for your support.
Find out more on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GreekStudiesLTU/
*Dr Stavroula Nikoloudis is the Coordinator of Greek Studies program at La Trobe University: email @ email@example.com