My first time meeting Alexandros was as a student of his, studying ancient Greek after-hours, originally at the Alphington Grammar School campus, and then the Doncaster High Campus. Our class would meet there, after finishing our day-classes at schools across Melbourne. We all got along from day one. Alexandros’ kind demeanour established us all instantly as peers – he engaged with us genuinely and thought-provokingly, and never discouraged questioning, no matter where it led. Some of my fondest memories of intellectual conversation and debate are in my ancient Greek class. Although he expected a high standard from us, as the subject demands, it was because he recognised potential in us, and wanted to bring it out. I went on to continue studying ancient Greek, first through VCE, and then further at the University of Melbourne. Alexandros took my passion for the language, and helped spark my own journey with ancient Greek which continues to this day.

For that, I am, and always will be, grateful.

I think, all these years later, that Alexandros, as well as a number of his colleagues and others in his field, should have their worthy contributions recognised, in fighting to keep the ancient Greek language alive, here, in the Antipodes. Sometimes, we fail to recognise those who are most deserving, and in this case, I feel obliged not to let this opportunity slip by. Alexandros, like many modern and ancient Greek teachers here in Melbourne, and I’m sure across Australia, are humble to a fault, and never sing their own praises. It is up to us, at least once in a while, to reflect on their great importance.

Alexandros graduated with Honours in Ancient and Modern Greek languages and pedagogics from the University of Crete. Until 1995 he taught Modern and Ancient Greek in private schools across Greece, and then from 1995 to 2003 he was a senior teacher in Greek Government Schools. It was in 2004 that he was seconded to the education office of the Greek Consulate in Melbourne – this is where his Australian story begins.

In 2012, Alexandros was a lecturer at Monash University. Photo: Supplied

From the time of Alexandros’ secondment up until 2009, he was a teacher at Balwyn High and for a few years also at VCAL. Later, he also taught Greek at a variety of private institutions, including St. Albans Greek School and Doncaster/Templestowe school of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria (GOCMV). In 2012, Alexandros was a lecturer at Monash University, and began teaching at Ariston private Greek School, after which he became a casual teacher of ancient Greek at the GOCMV. It is from 2013 until today, that Alexandros has served as the GOCMV’s coordinator of Modern and Ancient Greek studies.

Although far from his ancestral home of Crete, Alexandros has brought the perennial Greek spirit with him here to Melbourne, and has spent the last 19 years fighting tooth and nail in a variety of roles to try and keep the flame of Hellenism alight. To Alexandros’ hundreds of students, and to the students of modern and ancient Greek across the country, take a moment to think of the sacrifices and struggles made to offer you the opportunity to learn the language of heroes and philosophers. At a time when even modern Greek studies, let alone ancient Greek studies, are under existential threat in Melbourne, and where there is a critical shortage of skilled staff to fill what places remain, I think it would be wise for our community to come together more often and recognise our teachers’ value, and then think of ways to aid in their task of perpetuating our thousands-year-old language.

So, when I say this, I say it also to all those who have contributed to the preservation of Greek language and culture in Melbourne and the Antipodes – Thank You Alexandros!