On Sunday the 1st of May, the Modern Greek Teachers’ Association of Victoria (MGTAV) held the launch of the Modern Greek Strategic Plan it had been formulating with the Pharos Working Party.
In 2017 the MGTAV commissioned the highly esteemed Professor Joseph Lo Bianco to undertake research pertaining to the teaching of Modern Greek in Victoria. In 2020, alongside Professor Lo Bianco, the MGTAV presented this research and Action Plan moving forward. Last year, as Professor Lo Bianco’s book ‘Pharos: The vitality and presence of Modern Greek in contemporary Australia’ was sent to the publishers, the ‘Pharos’ Working Party was formed led by the MGTAV and under Professor Lo Bianco’s guidance. The Pharos Working Party also has representatives from La Trobe University Modern Greek Studies, the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne Victoria, the Archdiocesan District of Northcote, Community Languages Victoria, the Association of Greek Language Schools Victoria, as well as observers from other relevant organisations. Since its inception, the Pharos Working Party has been meeting regularly to formulate a Strategic Plan for Modern Greek. After many hours of work, and many meetings, the draft plan was finalised late last year, which was sent out to the broader community as a discussion paper for feedback. After having collected all feedback and having revised the draft plan accordingly, Professor Lo Bianco presented the Modern Greek Strategic Plan at Sunday’s Launch.
Held at Alphington Grammar School, and hosting over 80 people, the Modern Greek Strategic Plan Launch saw people from all walks of life come together and unite for the good of the Greek language. From teachers to business owners, to Members of Parliament (past and present), to parents, to guests who came all the way from NSW just for the Launch, and so many more, the event really was a milestone in Greek education in Australia.
Dr Vivianne Nikou, principal of Alphington Grammar, opened the event by welcoming guests and thanking them for their attendance. Professor Nick Bisley, Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, gave a brief report about Greek Studies at La Trobe University, first commending the broader Greek community for their efforts in retaining the Greek program at La Trobe, and later extending his support for the program into the future. Dr Stephie Nikoloudis, Coordinator of the Modern Greek Studies Program at La Trobe, gave her own update on the program, referring to the wonderful initiatives that the program has been involved in recently, and reasserting that while the mobilisation that occurred in the last 1-2 years was incredible and extremely valuable, it is essential that this momentum be maintained moving forward to meet the targets set by the University. A gentle reminder that the battle has not been won yet and that we all need to do everything in our power to continue to support the program.
Professor Lo Bianco presented the Modern Greek Strategic Plan, explaining the language revival approach ‘COD’ and how it is relevant to revitalising Modern Greek in Australia. He asserts that in order to succeed, Greek teachers, Greek teacher associations and the wider community must: build language capacity in language learners; create and reward opportunities to use the language; and, foster a positive desire to identify with, use and want to improve in the language.
To begin with, the Pharos Working Party would focus on maintaining and expanding existing School and University programs. Professor Lo Bianco outlined how the Pharos Working Party would be working towards achieving these goals and called on members in the audience to offer their assistance.
Present in the crowd, the Hon. Jenny Mikakos commended the MGTAV and the Pharos Working Party on their efforts and publicly pledged her support to the cause. There was a positive buzz in the room, as many guests discussed and shared their thoughts, inspired by the prospect of supporting the Strategic Plan moving forward. Many others also pledged their support. We have been waiting for this moment a long time, but what happens after the launch is even more important than the launch itself.
This Strategic Plan is not something that can be carried out by one person or organisation. Nor is it something that will be completed overnight. However, if we all work together, if we unite our efforts in a coordinated strategy, and if we keep at it, we CAN achieve our goals. We can pave the way for future generations to engage with the language. This IS the way forward. So, I ask you all- how can you, your family, your school, your workplace, your organisation, how can YOU help us stay on track? Our first focus area is maintaining and expanding existing school and university Greek programs- so everyone’s efforts should go into that. The Working Party will formally commence its work on this focus area on May the 12th, and we are going to need everyone’s help moving forward. Every step in the right direction, whether it be a giant step or a baby step, helps.
Here’s to revitalising Modern Greek!
* Anita Kolaitis is the President of Modern Greek Teachears’ Association of Victoria (MGTAV) and a key member of Pharos Working Party