On Wednesday, May 3, 2023, the Languages and Cultures Student Prize-giving Ceremony took place at the Arts Precinct Function Centre of Macquarie University in Sydney.
Maria Tsakonas, student of Intermediate Modern Greek, and Zina Gabrielle Fotakis, student of Advanced Modern Greek, were the recipients of the AHEPA NSW Prizes ($500 each), which were kindly contributed by AHEPA NSW.
Constantinos Yiannakodimos, Head of the Public Diplomacy Office of Greece in Sydney, representing the Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Ioannis Mallikourtis; Theophilus Premetis, President of Macquarie Greek Studies Foundation; and Ioannis Theodoridis, Secretary of the Foundation, attended the event.
Dr Jane Hanley, Discipline Chair of Languages and Cultures, Macquarie University was the emcee.
Student, Maria Tsakonas, said: “Studying the Greek language during my tertiary education at Macquarie University has been a uniquely rewarding experience. It has allowed me to grow closer to my culture and refine my written skills.”
“I have always been and will continue to be a supporter of learning a second language and working towards becoming a bilingual speaker. For me personally, since Greek was the primary language used in my home whilst growing up, I have a special fondness for it,” Maria continued.
“Greek is incorporated into many different facets of the English language and I have discovered that understanding word origins and Greek meanings has improved my cognitive abilities both within and outside of my law degree.
“I want to thank Dr Patricia Koromvokis, my Lecturer, for all her help and support during my academic career. No question has ever seemed too insignificant or unreasonable to ask as she is a passionate and dedicated educator with the unique talent to modify her teaching method to suit students of all ages and abilities.
“My appreciation for the Greek language has been greatly influenced by my grandparents, George and Eugenie. I want to thank them for always challenging me and encouraging me to speak Greek at home. The immense gratitude I feel for developing close bonds with each of my grandparents by conversing with them in their native tongue cannot be adequately expressed in words.
“I am immensely pleased that I had the chance to fluently learn the Greek language thanks to the improvements made possible by my university education. This is truly a gift I will never take for granted.”
Zina Gabrielle Fotakis said: “Funnily enough, studying Modern Greek was not something I initially planned when beginning my tertiary studies. My career ambitions centre around the entertainment industry however, from studying Modern Greek as part of my arts degree I have enhanced my employability through opening opportunities for myself in the field of education.”
“I would not have been able to accomplish my tertiary language studies without the guidance and support of Dr Patricia Koromvokis at Macquarie University. Dr Koromvokis’ patience and true dedication to her students is reflected through our achievements and it is educators such as her that make students want to invest themselves into their studies,” Zina added.
“More than anything I would like to thank my family, especially my yiayia and pappou, who ensured I was raised with a connection to my heritage and instilled my cultural identity as a proud Greek Australian.
“My advice to students who are thinking of studying Modern Greek in tertiary education is to just go for it! Regardless of which language you wish you explore or the extent of your prior knowledge, being bilingual and learning languages is such a rewarding venture than can facilitate growth and many experiences. Like any skill, it’s never too late to start and you never know what opportunities it could create for you in future.”
Dr Patricia Koromvokis expressed how proud she feels when she sees her students accelerating in the Greek language and enjoying their Greek language-learning journey at Macquarie University.
The two students, Maria and Zina, are highly motivated and diligent, asking for extra help when needed, studying for tests and quizzes, recognising weaknesses, and looking for ways to improve. With confidence and pride in their Greek background, put their maximum effort into improving their Greek language knowledge with the goal of communication in the Greek language.
Dr Koromvokis expressed her sincere gratitude to AHEPA NSW for the prizes and for the ongoing support towards the Program of Modern Greek Studies of Macquarie University.