Learner Graham Collins is a true Hellenophile.
His enthusiasm for Greek, the people and culture stems back to his formal education, where he was immersed in Greek and Latin studies. He took a keen interest in Ancient History and acquired a deep knowledge of Classics. His affection for Greece resulted in several holidays to the country and even his honeymoon was celebrated on the Greek island of Zakinthos.
Graham’s face was beaming with joy when he described his knowledge of the Hellenic islands and the warmth and hospitality Greek people have shown him over the years, moreover, as his communication skills have perfected. Graham discussed how delighted local people are when a foreigner, a “xenos”, makes the effort to express themselves in their native language.
He continued to pursue learning Greek, initially online, and then in Leatherhead, finally settling with Surrey Adult Learning (SAL) for the past 5 years. Learner Graham attends Greek courses at the Esher Centre, under the guidance of Tutor Maria Bouba-Thompson. Graham affirmed how his efforts have improved his results, explaining, how he dedicates two hours a day to refining his Greek language, both vocabulary and grammar.
He recently underwent a triple hernia repair at Kingston Hospital. Imagine his surprise when he “came to” and discovered that the Consultant, in whose care he was placed was Dr Stefanos Lazaridis, from Athens. Graham decided there and then that he was confident enough to exchange social niceties in Greek and also at each subsequent meeting, something that both surprised and impressed the doctor. The Doctor told Graham that it was the first time that someone English had addressed him in his native Greek and that he felt very proud that an Englishman should be attending courses in order to learn his native language.
Graham was happy to report that he was not the only “xenos” (foreigner) as there were another twelve Hellenophiles and Cypriotphiles in his class. It is a vibrant and popular group taught under the expert guidance of Tutor Maria, who has the flair to bring Greek language to life in a classroom setting, using listening, speaking and writing exercises and choosing thought provoking and interesting themes to encourage the Learners to explore the language. Maria uses a variety of techniques ranging from online games to translating and singing popular songs. They also enjoy regular social gatherings with Maria, who every year organises a Christmas evening out with all the Learners.
Jacqui Deane has been attending Greek classes at Esher Adult Learning Centre for a number of years. She’s currently studying at Stage 4+. She explains how she travelled around the island of Crete to find a Potter whose work she most admires.
“Every year we visit a lady who runs a shop selling her husband's pottery. Her shop is on the south coast of Crete and we stay in west Crete so the journey takes us over an hour, but it's worth every minute as her husband (the potter) makes the most beautiful and affordable pottery you're ever likely to see. Over the years we've bought presents for friends and family back home as well as for ourselves.
This summer we set off for the Cretan resort but when we arrived, the shop was a jewellery shop and there was no sign of any pottery! We went into the taverna next door and asked in there what had happened to the pottery shop. A lady explained that the shop had been rented out to someone else and that we could find the potter and his wife in a local village. Fortunately my husband knew where the village was so we set off to find it.
When we arrived at the village, we went to the local taverna in the main square and asked the man behind the bar where we could find the potter. We have got to know quite a bit about the family over the years and sitting at one of the tables was one of her sons. He took us to the family home where we met the lady and her husband whose pottery we have been buying over the years, but whom we have never met before. The wife speaks excellent English but the husband speaks only Greek. We managed to tell him using our Greek, how much we love his pottery, his vibrant glazes and the beautiful colours he uses and I think the lady as quite surprised at how much Greek we could speak! Next year when we go to Crete, we will know where the find the potter and his wife and I hope to be able to speak more Greek.
Jacqui Deane – Greek – Stage 4+