On Focus, Contemporary Methods to Promote Hellenic Values.
St. Petersburg, FLA.- The Forum/Conference was held at three different locations on February 19-20, 2010: at the University of South Florida in Tampa (2/19) and on the St. Petersburg Campus and the Spanos-Pappas Center, in Tarpon Springs Florida. The American Foundation for Greek Language and Culture (AFGLC) has been actively and systematically supporting for years the preservation of Hellenic Heritage and Values in the United States of America. Its specific Aims and Objectives are remarkably similar to those of the Hellenic Link, Inc., with main emphasis placed in the support of programs of Greek Language and Culture at institutions of higher learning. The core of this mission is being achieved by assisting in the establishment of Interdisciplinary Centers of Hellenic Studies (ICHS), which typically operate with five endowed professorships in Greek Language, Greek History, Greek Philosophy, Byzantine History and Orthodox Religion, and Greek Culture. Several such ICHS are already sustained through the benevolent support of AFGLC, and there are more in a formative stage.
The Title Theme of the Conference 2010 was: “Hellenic Values in a Global Civilization: Engaging the Colleges, Universities and Citizens” There were 58 presentations included in the Program, distributed in Nine Thematic Units:
1) Ancient Visions, Modern Issues 2) Teaching Greek Language and Culture
3) The AFGLC/IFGLC Agenda: Work in Progress and Plans for the Future 4) Ancient Visions, Modern Issues (Part II) 5) The Legacy of the Greek Immigrants: Will it Endure? 6) Online Learning Programs for Teaching Greek Language and Culture 7) Longitudinal Teaching of Greek Language and Culture
8) Sharing the Experience for Teaching and Promoting Greek Language and Culture (3 separate Workshops) 9) Sharing the Experience for Teaching and Promoting Greek Language and Culture (Joint Review Session).
One of the main thrusts-proposals made at the Conference was a bold and ambitious plan to create T.O.U.C.H. (The Online Union & Center for Hellenism). This plan, as promulgated and articulated by its chief proponents Mr. Constantine Stefanakos (Media/AFGLC Producer, Tampa) and Dr. Ulysses J. Balis (Director of AFGLC Website, Associate Professor of Pathology and Director of Informatics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), would constitute an online center for the learning of the Modern Greek language, global communication and the digital archiving of the Hellenic Culture.
It is envisaged to be an interactive online Union and Center supporting organizations concerned with the spread of Hellenism. It would be so organized as to serve three main functions: GLOSSA, a learning center for the Greek language, useful among others, to Educational Institutions, Greek Language Websites and Greek Tourism; KOINO, a Global Community forum for the discussion and interaction on topics of
Hellenism, ancient and modern, and based on research and current events; POLITISMOS, a repository for the Hellenic Culture, archiving Historical Documents, Greek Art, and genealogies for individuals, patrons to politismos and eminent Greeks globally.
As we announced in the last issue of the Bulletin, the thematic contributions to the Conference by members of the Advisory Council on Hellenic Culture of the Hellenic Link were significant. In the interest of our readers, we present them here briefly, as they were reviewed by the Coordinator of the Council, Dr. Constantine Efthymiou at the concluding Session of the Conference:
In three sessions of the Conference, including one workshop, the Hellenic Link, Inc. had the privilege and the opportunity to bring into focus and discuss several issues, considered pivotal for putting the Greek language and Culture on the road not only to preservation but also to blossom in 21st Century America.
1) “Aligning Greek Language Teaching with U.S. National Standards ”was the theme presented by Dr. Vasiliki Tsigas-Fotinis. Dr. Fotinis offered the rationale for the need to develop and express principles of teaching/learning Greek, which would enable the inclusion of Greek in the repertory of foreign languages currently taught in American schools. She also dealt with the need to establish criteria for valid training and certification of teachers of Greek. Interestingly for the community of Hellene educators, she came forward with a concrete proposal for a collaborative project to work on the prerequisites as well as for the development of teaching standards applicable to Greek.
An outline of her proposal was circulated among all participants.
2) Appropriately for the Conference Theme, Dr. Nikos Metallinos, who has been working on the subject, talked to us today about “Tools of Longitudinal Student Exposure to Greek Language and Culture.” From the basis of his experience gained at the Hellenic Studies Unit of Concordia University in Montreal, he drew a blue print for upper level graduate studies, which would graduate competent Greek teachers for the Canadian and American schools. With support from the administration of his institution and the Hellenic community of Montreal and beyond, he could plan action for the reversal of the problem of continued decline in Greek school enrollments by introducing curricular improvements to secure an academic preparation of Greek teachers imparting solid knowledge and enhancing teaching leadership potential.
3) In his paper “Hellenic Paideia: College-level Education for High School Students”, Dr. Dean Lomis was preoccupied with the concern how to be able to associate or re-associate Greek American youth to their cultural bearings. For teen age Americans, including Greek-Americans, he envisages a special Greek language and culture college-level curriculum, i.e., while they are still in high school. The relevant program that he proposes embodies two educational elements: one remedial, familiarizing the student with the Greek language, cultural heritage and ethos, while the second, utilitarian with cost-effective educational characteristics , offers advanced placement academic credits to enhance their collegiate studies. To review the suggested structure of the program, curriculum distribution, adjunct faculty status and recruitment, tuition and expense arrangements, academic credit, and advanced college placement considerations, reference is made to the paper itself which will be included in the Proceedings of the Conference to be published hopefully soon. According to Dr. Lomis, success of this program will hinge on the academic institution with a viable Hellenic Studies program, which would provide the focus of leadership and guidance. As such, the USF was recognized and proposed as most appropriate for the implementation of the innovative program.
4) Dr. Constantine Hatzidimitriou in his paper“Modular Teaching of Hellenic Cultural Themes: The Crucial Link between Content and Pedagogy” made an overview of the evolution of Hellenic Studies in the United St ates at the elementary, secondary and higher education levels in both private and public institutions. He observed that the prevailing pattern of teaching has been one of isolation and non-alignment of resources, scholarship and pedagogy between lower and higher education and between the private and public sectors. He further expressed the view that this non-alignment has resulted in a systemic failure to link the content of Hellenic Studies to major themes and subject matter in the American educational mainstream, especially in context of the public elementary and secondary schools. Citing specific examples, he went on to propose that one way to help reverse this marginalization and decline is to institute a modular approach to teaching core subjects of Hellenic Culture, utilizing solid interdisciplinary links between academic specialists and the sectors of elementary and secondary private and public school systems.
Two presentations on methods combining the use of multimedia and language technologies and tools in language learning were contributed to the program by the Institute for Language and Speech Processing (ILPS) and its Affiliate “Athena” Research Center (respectively directed by Professors Basil Mertzios and George Carayannis) in collaboration with the Advisory Council of the Hellenic Link. Dr. Frieda Chralabopoulou of the ILPS meticulously prepared two papers. Unfortunately, she was unable to make the transatlantic trip for the presentation. Standing in her stead was Dr. Maria Hnaraki of Drexel University, who kindly assumed the task. We are indebted to all of them for enriching our Program with resourceful ideas and information as well as handy tools for our cultural tasks. As to the presentations themselves:
The first paper “Employing Technology as a Conduit to Enhance, Promote and Disseminate Less Coimmonly Taught Languages: The Case of Modern Greek” by Drs. Frieda Charalabopoulou and Constantine J, Efthymiou, presented in the context of Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL), was on “filoglossia+”, multimedia courseware addressed to adult learners of Modern Greek with little or no previous knowledge of the language. The aim of the paper was to present the basic features of this particular course series, which aspires to increase the visibility of the Greek Language worldwide and also to make it available to Greeks of the Diaspora, wishing to solidify ties to their culture, keep the language of their forefathers alive and thus preserve their Hellenic identity.
In the Workshop, Dr.Frieda Charalabopoulou presented under the title “Educational Software for Greek Language and Culture” four applications addressed to English speaking foreigners who are interested in the Greek language and culture and/or to the Greeks of the Diaspora. The applications, all related to Greek language learning, included (i) filoglossia+(φιλογλωσσία+), a four multimedia CD-ROM series with English language support targeting English-speaking Learners of Modern Greek, (ii) XENION lexicon, a bilingual and bi-directional(Greek-English/English-Greek)dictionary and (iii) Nea Logomatheia (Νέα Λογομάθεια) addressed to Greek students of primary and lower secondary education. Regarding the Greek culture, SAPPHO (ΣΑΠΦΩ), a DVD-ROM series which constitutes a thesaurus of knowledge about the Greek islands, was presented.
Dr. John Anton, Distinguished Professor of Greek Philosophy and Culture, University of South Florida, and leading member of the HL Advisory Council on Hellenic Education, closed the Paper Presentations with a bugle-call address to the plenary session: “Concluding Remarks: The Charge!”