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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 04 November 2017
6 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 4 NOVEMBER 2017 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM NUGAS Vic recognises the importance and significance of the Greek language NELLY SKOUFATOGLOU NUGAS representatives visited 14 Greek schools across Melbourne in 14 days to speak to VCE and other high school classes, including those of the GCMV, Omiros, Nestoras, St Raphael, St Andrews St Anargiri, and St Nicholas. Over 140 year 12 students received a NUGAS gift bag with a stress ball, NUGAS magazine, a CD of popular Greek songs, and information on how to continue their Greek language education providing options both locally and remotely. "The purpose of these visits was to encourage students to maintain their Greek identi- ty through [continuing] their language studies at a tertiary level, as it helps maintaining a central part of the core culture among members of the Greek community," said Jordan Moschovitis, NUGAS' education officer. "We spoke about the opportunities and benefits of joining an organisation like NUGAS, socially as well as professionally, plus the networking opportunities, the connection with the culture and maintaining a friendship group that is solely Greek reminding yourself that you don't need to hide this aspect of [your] identity." Mr Moschovitis also explained that one of NUGAS' primary aims is to bridge the gap between university and high school. "VCE students are often 16 or 17 years old so they usually have a year where they are completely disconnected from the language if they don't speak it at home, focusing on their school studies." "When they eventually come to university many have not been regularly exposed to Greek culture and are experiencing an overall disconnect," the education officer added, pointing out that "Students will find a friendship or study groups during their first months at uni and if there isn't a Greek group there, they may not become involved in activities that relate to their Hellenic background." Moreover, Mr Moschovitis stressed that there still is a certain stigma amongst final year high school students about taking Greek language classes, as for a large number of teenagers the decision is a result of pressure from the parents or grandparents. "I know anecdotally from speaking to students in schools that many of their siblings are dropping out of Greek language classes at a younger age; most students don't continue past year 11 as they are not aware of how Greek can be useful outside of home; past school." With language being a major co-component of the Greek identity in Australia, aside from music and dance, the community members that don't speak Greek experience a certain sense of exclusion and are not as invested as they can not entirely relate to their cultural background. "The understanding of the language is important and actually becomes an incentive for young second and third generation Greeks to want to be involved in the community," Mr Moschovitis said. Study tours in Greece in partnership with La Trobe and Flinders University is one of the incentives NUGAS provides for those that become part of its extended family. "Informing year 12 students about the option of studying in Greece we saw that they were very motivated and excited [that] such an opportunity is actually available. Many of them were also fascinated [about] studying Greek alongside their main degree as a minor, even cross-institutionally." "These kinds of activities, the events and Greek study programs that we run create enthusiasm to the students and help to maintain their interest in the Greek language and identity," Mr Moschovitis concluded. The NUGAS education officer overlooks the activities of the organisation that relate to Greek Language and Greek studies programs, organisations and Hellenic communities in Victoria. Professor Loukas Tsoukalis on the Greek crisis: ‘The worst is over, but Greece needs to win back its credibility’ Leading political economist and academic Professor Loukas Tsoukalis, currently touring Australia and New Zealand, was invited by the University of South Australia to present the Hawke EU Centre Annual Lecture on Thursday 19 October. In his lecture titled Does the EU Have a Future? Professor Tsoukalis gave an overview of what led to the crisis and outlined how it was managed or mismanaged by different governments. One of his concerns was that Greeks have not developed a consensus on what are the basic things that need to be done. As a former special advisor to the president of the European Commission, Professor Tsoukalis is considered to be one of the world's expert commentators on matters concerning the European Union. Apart from holding a seat as Professor of European Integration at the University of Athens, Tsoukalis is currently the president of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP). In his latest book, In De- fense of Europe. Can the European project be saved? published by Oxford University Press in 2016, he addresses the key issues and difficult choices facing Europe today. Tsoukalis’ main contribution to the debates on the Euro crisis and the future of the Union lies within his examination of the interplay between the processes of European integration and the ever-changing dynamics of globalisation. He believes that keeping Europe together is a sensitive balancing act as numerous contradictions need to be managed, and all this at a time where support for the European project is at an all-time low and challenges abound. There is a weakening consensus when it comes to the existential crisis of the European integration, with the EU becoming an increasingly divided place as the international financial crisis expands. The audience of over 250 people was greatly appreciative of his insights and the clarity he provided on the challenges faced by Greece. The crisis had also brought many positive developments to Greece. Customer service has markedly improved, tourism is on the rise and there have been an increasing number of startups, he explained. When confidence and investment flows return, economic growth should be high as there is so much unused and underutilised capacity in the economy. Hopefully this will also lead to a reversal of the brain drain that has been occurring he added. He stressed that solutions were already there, one can look at best practices abroad and there was no need to ‘reinvent the wheel’. There is still a lot of inertia generated by competing interest groups stifling reform. He finished on a positive note by saying that he believed that the worst of the crisis is over but Greece needs to win back its credibility with financial markets if investment is to follow.
28 October 2017
11 November 2017