In Australia, the Greek Diaspora is currently occupied in coordinated “battle” for Greek language, so that it will be among the seven recognized languages in secondary schools of the country.
“I believe that we will succeed, but if in the meantime we don’t move towards the right direction, then in ten years this battle will be lost. The Greek Diaspora has achieved a lot in Australia. To the extent, however, that it will not be able to develop a philosophy of investing policies, I’m afraid that very soon, Hellenism will be assimilated” stresses Professor, Michalis Tsianikas (photo), Head of the Department of Modern Greek Studies of Flinders University in Adelaide.
“The solution would be to create Greek Institutions through the contribution of prominent Greeks which could serve as a powerful lobby, which will communicate with various universities as well. To operate as a body which will guard the interests of Hellenism, as the “pupil of an eye” underlines Mr. Tsianikas.
Greek is being taught in three universities of Sidney, in Melbourne, whereby only one program has survived in La Trobe University, in Adelaide University, in a private university of Perth and since 2004 at the University of Darwin, whereby professor Tsianikas started. Efforts are being made for the creation of a programe in Brisbane as well.
“Besides the teaching of the Greek language, we educate in the University of Darwin, Greek Diaspora educators, who staff programs for Greek language in primary schools. The induction of the Greek language in primary schools of the Northern Territory of Australia was achieved after strong pressures coming from the Greek Community. Today we are pleased that 1000 children are learning Greek, thanks to this program.
What we seek is not funds but the signature of a memorandum of cooperation with the Ministry of Education of Greece which will indicate, in practice, the interest of the Greek state for these programs. Lets not forget that the pressure exerted by Asian language is great”, said Mr. Tsianikas.
For three years now, the creation of a Centre for Greek Language and Culture in Adelaide is pending, for which a memorandum of cooperation has been signed between the state of S. Australia, Flinders University and Greece. The establishment of this center, as Mr. Tsianikas says, aims at training Greek Diaspora educators for all three levels of secondary education. The local government, which awaits an expression of interest from the Greek side, has already offered the amount of 600.000 dollars.
“This gift, which is offered to us by the state of S. Australia for the promotion of Greek language, must not be missed. Something has to be done” stresses Mr. Tsianikas, who is hoping that the new leadership of the Ministry of Education of Greece will proceed with the implementation of this memorandum.
Born in Greece, with roots from the East, in Mount Ossa, Michalis Tsianikas, studied literature at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and continued his postgraduate studies in France, whereby he taught French in secondary education. For the past 21 years he has been living in Australia, whilst for more than 15 years he has been the head of the Department of Modern Greek Studies of Flinders University, which is considered one of the most successful universities, not only in Australia but also on a worldwide basis.
Every two years he organizes scientific conferences with great appeal. Cyprus and the Cypriot issue are always an important part of the conferences. Nevertheless, Mr. Tsianikas teaches a course for Cyprus at the University which attracts the interest of students.
On July 2011, the 9th consecutive conference will be held. Elderly Greeks of the Diaspora will be a special subject and representatives of other nationalities are also expected to take part in the proceedings, as the issues regarding senior citizens are of interest to the local community.