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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 11 March 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 11 MARCH 2017 23 GREECE Rethink our Greek in March If we need to save the language, we might want to reconsider our educational strategy, and our connection with it NIKOS FOTAKIS "Daddy, do you speak Greek?" My daughter just recently became aware that our family is bilingual. She's three. She made the discovery when she was visited by one of her friends: an elderly lady who enjoys playing with her. My offspring asked for a story and brought a book to the woman who was confused by the illegible characters on the pages. "That's all Greek to me", she might have said. From then on, my three-year-old started making the distinction and added a new string of questions to the endless stream that seems to come out of her mouth. "Is this book Greek? Does my teacher speak English? Can you sing to me in Greek? What is kamilopardali?" "It means 'giraffe', darling". It is by pure coincidence that this new-found awareness came just in time for this year's 'Speak Greek in March' campaign. It's the only chance of her participating, singing the broken Greek versions of If You’re and You Know It and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, before she retreats to her usual mode - answering in English to our questions delivered in Greek. I'm enjoying this while it lasts. Because I know what comes next. Boredom. I've had many Greek language teachers report this to me, when describing the kids that come to the classes, sacrificing their afternoons and weekend mornings. "Greek school is boring. We only come because our parents make us", is what they usually say. They're right, of course. School, by definition, is boring - not just language school, any school. Greek school, in particular can be a torment, a place where many poorly trained - and some totally unqualified - teachers preach about Greekness, spreading stale notions of motherland nostalgia, half-digested history and religious prejudice, teaching from questionable books (some filled with grammatical and spelling errors), and often openly dismissing current educational approaches, as inferior to the ways of the Greek education system. Who would want to learn anything under these conditions, let alone a complex and difficult language? So yes, it's a common secret that the majority of children are not really keen in attending Greek school. It takes driven parents and inspired teachers to take them out of this state and help them navigate through language. Most of all, it takes incentive - for everybody involved. I've spoken to many second- and third-generation Australians (some who did not hate Greek school), and even those who actually loved learning Greek and are fluent in it admit that they mostly did it to be able to communicate with their grandparents. This is not nearly enough. This attitude reduces Greek to a difficult communication tool with an ageing population - it is a recipe for defeat. It should be much more than that. It should be viewed as something that empowers a person and adds to their set of skills and qualifications. Because that's what it is. Science has proven that being bilingual adds to a child's cognitive and social development, and is a factor that allows them to show significant problem-solving skills growing up. Furthermore, learning languages is among the best educational investments one may make. As someone who grew up in middle-class Athens, I know it all too well. Learning languages after school was the norm and it accounts for the well-reported 'brain drain' that saw many of us leave our crisis-ridden homeland to make a living in Germany, UK, Canada, and Australia. When all this difficulty ends - and someday, hopefully in the next few decades, it will - there will be many opportunities in Greece and knowing the language will be an asset, the way knowing German, Spanish, or Mandarin is a professional development tool. But to achieve all this, we may need to rethink our language and what it signifies. Set it free of our cultural burdens and our anxious quest to not lose connection to the Greek ways. Teach it as a game, through stories and cartoons and whatever might make it appealing to children. Deliver it from the grasp of religious teachings. Associate it with the beautiful works of literature and philosophy it has been producing for centuries. Teach it as a way to open oneself to the world, instead of a way of attachment to a close-knit community. Let's leave children outside our cultural identity worries and politics. And more importantly, lead by example. If we read Greek books, if we show how much we value and enjoy our own bilingual status, maybe we can inspire them - and make specific language preservation campaigns redundant. An eye for people and their moments Konstantinos Sofikitis shortlisted for the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards Over the past decade, photographers from all over the world have been submitting their work to the annual ‘Sony World Photography Awards’, responding to an open call for professionals and amateurs to share their images with the world. This time around, a Greek name proudly stands out among the photographers who made it to the shortlist. Konstantinos Sofikitis, a member of Magnum's LensCulture Society, is no stranger to receiving accolades. An accomplished travel photographer with a humanitarian approach, he has seen his work published in Greek and international media, and has often participated in exhibitions in Greece and other European countries. This time around, it was his photo, Halloween Protagonists, from a photo essay on Halloween celebrations in New York that captivated the eyes Halloween Protagonists, made it to the top ten in the Open: Street Photography category of the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards. of the committee for the 2017 Sony World Photography Awards. More than 227,000 photos from 183 countries were submitted in the Open: Street Photography category and his ranked among the top 10. "Nothing competes with the appeal of street photography and it is a real honour for me to have my work acknowledged by a committe of world renowned photographers", he said, setting up for the next phase of the awards, the an- nouncement of the 2017 Best Open: Street Photographer which will take place on 28 March. From then on, all the category winners will be contenders for Open: Photographer of the Year", which will be revealed on 20 April. Even if Konstantinos Sofikitis doesn't get the US$5,000 top honour, he will still be part of the ‘Sony World Photography Awards & Martin Parr 2017 Exhibition’ that will take place at London's Somerset House, from 21 April to 7 May. Chanel’s new video dedicated to Greece The latest product to be released in Chanel’s skincare range, includes a special ingredient from Greece A video released as part of Chanel's new campaign for the release of its latest antiageing product, Blue Serum is dedicated to Greece. Showcasing the natural beauty of the Greek island of Chios, the voice over states: "The sun is in everything here; in the soil, in the plants, and it is in this tree - the lentisk - that people here harvest its unique regenerative power. It's something special. "Some call it a mystery, 'it's just life'. Maybe that's why people here live longer. "Greece it's all of this, and now a part of it is revealed to you." The video is one of three, based on parts of the world that have been dubbed the 'blue zone' and includes Greece, Italy, and Costa Rica. These areas are perceived to be unique, with research showing that people in these parts of the world tend to live longer. Based on this premise, Chanel has created Blue Serum, a skin care product made up of three essential ingredients from the blue zone: a combination of green coffee from Costa Rica, bosana olives from Sardinia and lentisk (mastic tree) from Greece. Brought together in a serum, each ingredient is said to have revitalising and antioxidant properties, and in combination Chanel claims they have three key benefits: smoothing of wrinkles, firmer skin and a more even skin tone. Folli Follie tops Retail Interiors Awards The Greece-based company was awarded the Top Rated Retail Interiors Project 2016 award Luxury goods giant Folli Follie has taken out four first prize awards at the 2016 Retail Interiors Awards, in recognition of the company's innovative approach to creating an attractive and functional environment. Folli Follie Group was primarily awarded based on the introduction of its concept store, located in downtown Athens, where it offers its customers a unique travel experience of the senses, reports ERT. The concept store has since been implemented at 50 sales points across the globe, resulting in Folli Follie receiving Best International Store award, Store Window award, Visual Merchandising award and Best Interior (Non-Food) Retail awards. As a result, the Group was awarded the Top Rated Retail Interiors Project 2016 award. Folli Follie was founded in Greece in 1986 by Dimitris Koutsolioutsos, with the first store opening its doors in Athens' commercial district. The company also started to manufacture their own jewellery, launching their own line of watches in 1994. Then in 1995, Folli Follie Group opened its first overseas store in Japan, and is now active in over 25 countries around the world.
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