by Catherine Tsounis
“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” Aristotle
A courageous person is making his mark on the field of education with impressive podcasts in the “The Greek Teachers Association “Prometheus” online programs. I have been following the online presentations of Dr. Isaak Papadopoulos, a 32 year old professor for the past 6 months. He stresses what traditional persons want to here: Greek language, culture, Greek Orthodoxy without the insertion of political philosophy. Culture, civilization is what we want our children and grandchildren to learn. He gives this perspective in his digital presentations to the Greek world overseas. His presentations are in Greek. His English writing and language skills are excellent.
Who is Dr. Isaak Papadopoulos? He is a son of Michail and Despoina Papadopoulou. His family has Western Anatolia/Asia Minor roots. He was born and raised in Omorfochori of Larissa, which is a small village that was created by refugees coming from Constantinople, Smyrna, and Cappadocia. His great grandmother from his mothers’ side was named Despoina Tsopouridou. He made the image of his great grandmother com alive in our phone conversation. “Our family had a sesame factory in Constantinople. The 1923 population exchange uprooted a prosperous, upper middle class family to poverty in Greece. In the exchange, they were given a small house and a cow. They managed, worked hard. My great grandparents from my father’s side were Apostolia and Isaak from Smyrna and Cappadocia.” Dr. Isaak is a fourth generation Greek. Amazing! The pain of losing one’s homeland remains, extending to he 5th generation. Also losing one’s country because of religious affiliation is written in blood of the shores of Western Anatolia.
Dr. Isaak was raised in a house/family that loves and maintains cultures, traditions, religious and Greek education. He attended the sixth-grade primary school in Omorfochori, achieving high grades in all the classes. He went on with junior and senior high school in Larissa. He managed to be accepted at the University in Florina studying in the Department of Primary Education. His academic life there was amazing. There, he met Varvara, his future wife. A love match! They met during the classes of Greek traditional dances. It was love at first sight. Their love and devotion to each other has created a family of two children. Despoina-Chrysovalanto is their daughter 3,5 years old. Michael is their son 2 years old. He does not compare anything with playing with his children. Without my friends, the life of our family could be different. As for his free time, he likes talking with his friends, Vassilios and Vissarion while most of his special times are spent with a very close friend called Anastasia, the Christian mother of his son. She has been like a fifth member of his family.
Dr. Isaak always wanted to follow an academic career. He completed his post-graduate studies in Rome. He studied Teaching a Second/Foreign Language to Dyslexic students. Then, he pursued his PhD at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki with honors..
Just after the PhD completion, Dr Isaak Papadopoulos was appointed to a teaching staff member at the European University Cyprus in Nicosia/Lefkosia. He has worked there for several years teaching Linguistics, teaching Methodology courses and Interculturalism. He says that “when he went to Cyprus he felt the people’s anxiety and sadness regarding Northern Cyprus. I remembered the words of my refugee great grandparents coming to Greece.” The Indian nation understands the pain of division of heir subcontinent and population exchange in the late 1940’s.
Dr. Isaak collaborates with the Institute DIMITRA in Larissa. He believes that it is very important to support your town where you were born and raised. He teaches courses related to Pedagogy and Education. He has been a honorary lecturer at the University of Mariupol, University Borys Grinchenko Kyiv and the University of Albania in Tirana.
He has published two books “Teaching Young Foreign Language Learners” and “From translanguaging pedagogy to classroom pedagogy”. Dr. Isaak published an edited book with NOVA Publishers New York on “International Perspectives on Creativity in the Foreign Language Classrooms”. He has participated in conferences and research papers.
If he could go back to the past, he says that “he would like so much to be in Larissa the day that his great grand mother died. He took academic exams in Florina and he was not able to go to say the last goodbye.” If he could go to the future, he says that he would like to go to everyday life of their children when he will die so that we can be sure that they will be safe and sound without him alive. His life so far has taught him that we must be satisfied with simple moments. Pandemic has taught us this lesson, but just after the re-opening, many of us have forgotten this lesson.
Links: Dr Isaak M. Papadopoulos Researcher in Teaching Methodology in Multilingual Classrooms, Department of Primary Education. School of Education, University of Ioannina, Greece