It was a fight for Claire Fassoulidis to study Greek in years 11 and 12; a fight that she took on impetuously. Due to lack of numbers in the subject, the community school she was attending faced the closure of the subject. But that wasn’t going to deter Claire. Not only did she fight, but she studied both Modern Greek subjects and not only scored 100 per cent but came first place in New South Wales for her Modern Greek studies. And in year 12, she was given another blow when her grandmother died. Her grandmother – who lived in Greece – was the only relative that Claire could speak with to practice her language on.
“It was a tough time then,” Claire tells Neos Kosmos, “to study and grieve all at once; my grandmother always supported me throughout my Greek studies.”
All these challenges, battles and adversities that the young girl was faced with only made her more determined to not only succeed, but to pass that knowledge and fight to fellow students. After she completed her HSC, Claire became involved in helping other students who couldn’t speak Greek. Many of these students’ parents were Australian born with Greek-born grandparents.
“I had one student who came to me and only could say yiasou ti kaneis – and now we have fluent conversations about school and work,” says Claire about the work she does as a tutor.
Some of the students Claire sees have no connection to the culture as she says language ties everything together.
“Through learning the language they are finding out about their Greek culture more than just learning syntax and grammar – they are revealing their cultural identity.”
Her work as a tutor, she says, makes her feel as though she’s a ‘young ambassador’ for the Greek language and culture, and that it’s her duty to her students in her area.
Some of the concerns her students have is the confidence in their oral exam.
“My job is to help students think on the spot to become more confident, so they are learning how to communicate to the examiner, how to express ideas regardless of how much stress you are experiencing at the time,” says Claire.
She adds that having just completed her HSC, and still studying at a university level – Claire is currently studying physiotherapy – she can empathise with her students, and they can also relate to her, giving her an advantage over teachers.
“I want to set an example that if you try hard enough you will reach the point where hard work does pay off,” she says,
“Results are not given they are earned.”
If you would like to contact Claire regarding tutoring you can do so by visiting St Mary’s Tutoring Academy or calling 0434 380 148.