The retention of our language in the Diaspora needs constant support, or otherwise it runs the risk of succumbing to the pressures of globalisation and assimilation to the dominant culture and language. There are many reasons for this, including the prevalence of intermarriage and the preference and ease for children born in Australia to become monolingual, speaking only English, the lingua franca of our adopted country.
“Furthermore, our school system that teaches Greek as a second language, needs new ideas and the ongoing support of the community in order to make the learning of Greek attractive to our youth.” Mr Zafiropoulos continued.
The Committee chose March for the campaign for a number of reasons. March incorporates a plethora of Greek cultural activities, it is the beginning of the school year, includes the celebration of the Greek National Day and the Antipodes festival. Of course, choosing one month for the campaign is only a marketing technique, as the objective of the organising Committee is to encourage and promote the speaking of Greek throughout the year.
For the 2016 campaign, an exciting concept had been developed to ensure a heightened interest on a daily basis on the campaign’s goals. We had identified 31 themes, one for each day of the month. The themes varied from simple topics like the “alphabet”, “arithmetic” and “grammar” to “philosophy”, “politics”, “economics”, “the Olympics” and “mythology” to name a few. All the themes chosen, are English words, which have their origin in the Greek language. People with expertise in any of the themes were invited to contribute brief content in the form of text, pictures, video or sound for inclusion in the website. These themes had been strategically placed on specific days to reflect the historical significance or appropriateness of the theme. For example, the “history” theme was on 25th March, Greek Independence Day; the “philosophy” theme was on 7 March, Aristotle’s death in 322BC and the “theatre” theme was on 20 March, which is the International Theatre Day for Children.
While the campaign originated in Melbourne, it is quickly spreading to other parts of Australia, particularly Perth and Canberra, as well as overseas. The aspiration of the organising Committee is that the campaign becomes embraced not only by the Hellenic Diaspora, but also by other minority communities in Australia.
In 2017 the thematic approach, which proved very successful in 2016 was again adopted, however instead of a word for each day of March, a country from the Hellenic diaspora was chosen, covering all 5 continents. SBS Radio has been approaching relevant people (community leaders, teachers, Greek Orthodox priests, academics etc.) in each of the 31 countries. Every day of March the Greek language daily programs of Australia’s national multicultural broadcaster will include a special segment, incorporating interviews about the Hellenic migration to each country covered, the history of settlement, the activities of the local Greek community, any accomplishments by particular individuals in politics, business, industry, the arts, sport etc. Particular emphasis will be given in these interviews to the retention of the Greek language and culture in the country chosen for that day of March. Of course, as it would be expected there are countries with large Greek populations, which have advanced facilities for the maintenance of the Greek culture and language. However, there are a number of countries, in which the Hellenic identity may be struggling to survive because of the small Greek migrant populations.
Our purpose is to make a broad assessment of the extent to which the Greek language has survived in the Hellenic diaspora and to establish a network of the 31 communities and a movement of collaboration with the aim of promoting the Greek language globally. In future, additional countries of the Hellenic diaspora will be invited to join the network.
For further information and if you would like tohelp us spread the “Speak Greek In March” message please contact us.