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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 10 August 2019
EDUCATION 22 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 10 AUGUST 2019 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Students meet with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED Students meet with the Evzones and learn more about the symbolism behind the uniform. Trip of a lifetime for students of Oakleigh Grammar PAULA TSIAGALOS Students of Oakleigh Grammar experienced a trip that would certainly be remembered and etched in their hearts forever. Twenty-five Year 8 and Year 9 students participated in a 3-week cultural trip with four teachers. The purpose of this trip was experiential learning with a focus on Hellenic culture, tradition and Greek hospitality. Students that participated in the trip were from both Greek and non-Greek speaking backgrounds. Some students had never visited their parents and/or grandparents' homeland which made the trip all the more sentimental for them. In a Mediterranean setting and perfect weather conditions, we were greeted with open arms and welcoming smiles. After a very long and much anticipated journey, Father George Adamakis, our parish and school priest greeted us in Athens before everyone fought off the jet lag. We eagerly explored the city centre and took in the beauty of Plaka whilst being in awe of the Ancient Agora, Roman Forum and Syntagma Square all lit up at dusk. Visits over the next few days included: the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, Monastiraki, the Parthe- non, the Acropolis Museum, Likavittos Hill, Kalimarmaron Stadium, the Byzantine Museum, the Hellenic Maritime Museum, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, the Commonwealth War Cemetery, and a few hours of swimming at Lake Vouliagmeni. Admiring the majestic sunset at Cape Sounion whilst taking memorable photos of the Temple of Poseidon perched on the cliff edge, we were transported to another world. In the Peloponnese, we got to experience the excellent acoustics of Epidavros, and heard Father George sing a verse of the Axion Esti whilst being applauded by everyone in the theatre. Daily excursions included visits to Nafplion and the Saronic islands: Hydra, Poros and Aegina. We had the chance to walk through the small and picturesque alleyways and take photos with the island's famous animals, the donkeys, which are also the main mode of transport on the island. In Athens, we had the opportunity to visit the Presidential Guard, follow a formal assembly and dressing of an evzone whilst learning about the significance of the different uniforms, what they symbolised and we were taken on a very rare tour of the workshops where the costumes are made. Did you know that the tassels on the evzone's uniform represent tears? Or that the stamping of the feet whilst an evzone marches is supposed to be loud, so that all our war heroes can hear that we remember and honour the sacrifices they made for our freedom? Another highlight was without a doubt a tour of the Presidential Mansion and meeting Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos who welcomed us and spoke at length about how proud Greece is of Hellenism in the diaspora and the ongoing sacrifices and accom- plishments that immigrants have made abroad. He also emphasised that children of immigrant families should be immensely proud of the opportunity given to them to learn the Greek language so far from their motherland. We were especially honoured to present Mr Pavlopoulos with our special 35year Celebratory Edition of Oakleigh Grammar's Year Book and the gift of a boomerang accompanied with the wish that we return to this beautiful country one day. We were also fortunate to have the Hellenic Parliament opened just for us on a Sunday morning for a special tour and informa- Teachers and students enjoy learning more about their roots. Oakleigh Grammar school students meet with peers from their sister school in Thessaloniki.
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