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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 05 January 2019
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 5 JANUARY 2019 9 NEWS Greek Australian doctor donates $1 million towards the Greek language THEODORA MAIOS There was no greater way for Greek Australian oncologist Dr Paul Eliadis to demonstrate his love for ancient Greece and the classics than donating $1 million for the creation of the academic Chair of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Queensland - the only state university that offers courses in the history, culture, literature and languages of ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. "In my humble opinion, any university should have a Chair of ancient history and the classics, so when the opportunity arose for me to do something about it, I was fortunate enough to be in a financial position to support in such [a] way, and so I did," Dr Eliadis told Neos Kosmos. Born in Brisbane in 1953, the 66-year-old doctor grew up in a traditional Greek family, with grandparents and parents who originally emigrated to Australia in the early 1920's in search of a better future. "I grew up in a family that was very closely associated with the Greek community and I have always been very proud of my Greek heritage," says Dr Eliadis, who is selftaught in reading and writing Greek and has always shown great interest in history and the classics. "Western civilisation has been what's laid the foundation for all the things that we enjoy in our society, so for a university not to focus on teaching Western civilisation is a contradiction in terms. Any university that doesn't have a skill of ancient history and classics, where the history of ancient Greece and Rome are taught, basically has no birth certificate," he says. Operating since 2014, 'The Paul Eliadis Chair of Ancient History and Classics', only the third of its kind in Australia, ensures that the culture and languages of ancient Greece and Rome are taught in perpetuity at the University of Queensland. "Without gifts such as this, we risk the situation that Queensland students will never hear the words of Aristotle, Plato, Aeschylus or Herodotus. Certainly not in the original, and possibly, not even in translation," said the inaugural holder of the professorship, Professor Alastair Blanshard. The study of the Classical World offers students an insight into the foundations of Western civilisation. Drama, mathematics, philosophy, democracy, and the rule of law all owe their origins to institutions and practices developed by these extraordinary Mediterranean cultures. "Our culture is based on Western civilisation. The basis is ancient Greece and Rome. The way we think goes back to ancient Greece and ancient Rome. That's where it all started and, in my opinion, anyone who understands this and has a love for ancient Greece has got something Greek in them," says Dr Eliadis who was born in Australia while his family originates from the islands of Karpathos and Samos. "Although I am very proud that I am Australian, I also feel very strongly and proud of my Greek heritage and I make sure I visit our homeland at least once or twice a year. "I am actually planning to spend more time exploring Greece's hidden treasures in the years to come and I invite those who can, to do the same." *Dr Eliadis is a Clinical Haematologist and Medical Oncologist with particular interests in the management of malignant disease and stem cell transplantation. His qualifications include a Bachelor of Science (Med), and Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the Royal College of Pathologists of Australia. He is a foundation director of Haematology and Oncology Clinics of Australia. Eleni with her mum Moya and three brothers. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED Searching for my Greek father in Australia THEODORA MAIOS Born in Melbourne 48 years ago, Eleni believed she was the fourth and only daughter of the Senior family and it wasn't until two years ago, at the age of 46, that she uncovered her parents' greatest secret. "I had just returned from my yearly holiday in Greece and as I was discussing my experiences with my 84-yearold father and expressing my love and adoration for Greece, laughing at the fact that all my friends insisted I looked more Greek than English, my dad confessed to me that there was a possibility he may not actually be my biological father," Eleni told Neos Kosmos. My parents were simple Greek migrants that taught us to be proud of our heritage. Dr Paul Eliadis. PHOTO: SUPPLIED Shortly after this revelation, she decided to undergo DNA testing, the results confirming her father's initial suspicion. For the Senior family, it all started when Eleni's mum and dad, together with her three brothers, moved to Melbourne for work. The Seniors moved into a house on Deacon Street. "My father said that whilst living in Melbourne, my mother Moya who worked at a factory in Essendon got romantically involved with one of her co-workers, a very charming Greek migrant who lived on Buckley Street and was at least 10 to 12 years younger than her," she recalls. My Greek friends used to always say to me that I looked more Greek than English... and they were right!” says Eleni, who recently discovered that her biological father is Greek Eleni was born in 1970. "I think deep down my father knew the truth but never went down the path of questioning my mother who in turn chose not to reveal her secret fearing such a revelation could result in a family breakup," says Eleni, who was somewhat delighted with the concept of being of Greek descent. "I always knew in my heart that I didn't fit in and to me it all makes so much more sense now," she says. The Seniors left Australia and moved back to the UK eight years after Eleni was born. They never returned since. Sadly, Moya passed away five years ago in the UK at the age of 74 without ever confessing her secret to her daughter. "Mum suffered from dementia, so I am not sure whether she would have eventually told me her secret. But irrespective of what she chose to do, I have done a lot of soul searching since the truth came out and I have decided to make the effort to find out more about my biological father, who must be around 72 to 74 years of age if alive today," says the West Yorkshirebased account manager. "I am a strong, independent woman and I am very happy with my life," says the mother of two; Eleni has a 24-yearold daughter and 17-year-old son, "but at the same time every day that goes by I look in the mirror and can't help but wonder who the other half of me is. I want to know if I look like my Greek father and I want him to know that if I chose to be anything, I would have chosen to be Greek. "Every day that goes by I wonder whether my biological father knew the truth. I wonder if he ever met me or got to hold me in his arms, and of course I can't help but wonder whether my mother had a reason for giving me a Greek name, as Greeks tend to do when they name their children after grandparents. "Whatever the case, I just know that if I don't look for him now, I will regret it later," concludes Eleni.
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