GOCSA celebrates language, dance and cooking at Annual Schools Dance

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On Saturday, June 22, the Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia (GOCSA) Language Schools held its Annual Greek Schools Dance at Olympic Hall.

Attracting over 200 people, this year’s annual theme was ‘Cooking Greek,’ centred around the theme of Greek cuisine to celebrate the uniqueness and cultural importance of food in the Hellenistic tradition and culture, as well as promoting culinary diversity to the wider Australian community.

GOCSA Annual Dance
All photos copyright The Greek Herald / Peter Tantalos.

The President of GOCSA, Peter Gardiakos, opened the evening by thanking the Schools Coordinator Himo Tsakalos and her team for their efforts, thanking the parents for their dedication and acknowledging the service and contribution of volunteers.

Mr Gardiakos outlined the purpose of the celebratory evening and its broader importance to Greek cultural and language preservation.

Mr Peter Gardiakos (President of GOCSA) delivers his remarks (1)
Peter Gardiakos (President of GOCSA) delivers his remarks.

“I stand before you, a very proud Australian with Greek heritage, and tonight we are here to emphasise and celebrate the profound importance of continuing Greek language education for our children. The Greek language is more than just a means of communication; it is the vessel of a rich and ancient heritage that has profoundly influenced Western civilisation…” Mr Gardiakos said.

“…Greek school is not just about language acquisition. It is about instilling a sense of identity and pride in our youth. It connects them to their roots, fostering a deep understanding and appreciation of their cultural heritage. This connection is vital in nurturing well-rounded individuals who value their ancestry and traditions.”

Mr Gardiakos underscored the importance of Greek language learning as a way to enhance an individuals’ “cognitive abilities, academic performance, and promotes multilingualism, which is a significant asset in our globalised world… broadening career opportunities [and cultivating] cultural empathy and understanding, making our children more adaptable and inclusive citizens.”

(From left-right) Irene Rowe (Chairperson of Community Language Schools SA), Hon. Michael Brown MP, Mr Trian Gonis, Mr Con Dalagiorgos (General Manager of GOCSA), Hon. Steven Georganas MP, Ms Barbara Myropoulou and Mr Peter Gardiakos.

The GOCSA President also launched the “Gonis-Gardiakos Scholarship,” a program designed to support young students in their Greek language studies within the South Australian Community. Established in honour of the late Bill Gonis OAM, a former President of GOCSA and community leader, the scholarship aims to encourage young learners to continue with their Greek language education.

To be eligible for the scholarship program applicants must be a current student studying Greek with one of GOCSA’s Community Language Schools, and it will be awarded to students who display exceptional talent in, and commitment to, the Greek language. The recipient of the scholarship will receive five years of community language school fees paid, in order to support and encourage them to continue Greek language study into high school levels.

Speeches were also given by The Hon. Steve Georganas MP – Federal Member for Adelaide and The Hon. Michael Brown MP, Member for Florey representing the Hon. Peter Malinauskas MP, Premier of South Australia and the Hon. Zoe Bettison MP, Minister for Multicultural Affairs.

Reflecting of the significance of the event, Mr Georganas said, “The most important people in this room tonight is the students, because that is who we are here for…”

“When I look at the programs of all the Greek communities, organisations and associations, the most important job that we have as custodians of Greek culture here in South Australia, there is nothing more important than Greek language to hand down to our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren,” he added.

Mr Georganas reminded attendees that one of the first Greek language schools outside of Greece was established in South Australia, emphasising the responsibility and duty incumbent on those seeking to maintain Greek identity must focus on promoting the Greek language.

To support this call to action, Mr Georganas announced that the GOCSA Greek language schools will receive $33,000, over the next two years, in funding from the Federal Government to advance the language initiative of the school.

The announcement was followed by project awards to students for their culinary crafts and exhibitions as a part of the “Our Greek Restaurant” display, featuring many of the well-known and beloved Greek dishes passed down from generations past.

The festivities concluded with traditional dance performances by the GOCSA Dance Academy, from the junior and intermediate levels groups, dressed in their customary folk costumes performing a series of cultural significant and traditional dances.

If you are interested in the Gonis-Gardiakos Scholarship and would like more information on the application process please email the Community Language Schools Coordinator, Himo Tsakalos, via email: himot@gocsa.org.au.

*All photos copyright The Greek Herald / Peter Tantalos.

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