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Greek Language and Culture February 2013 OMILO Newsletter
Kalispera sas,
Hope you are doing fine and had a good start of 2013. We reached the month of February again and the OMILO team has cut the annual “vasilopita”! . The coin went to the "OMILO-team" piece!! Now we are all set and ready to start with the first 2013 intensive course in Athens, something we always look forward to. Learning Greek and exploring Athens at the same time has been a rewarding experience for every student so far. For those in favor of biking, it might be also a good idea to explore Athens by bicycle this year, something that is getting more and more popular the last years. The following intensive 1-week courses in Athens are taking place the last week of March and first week of April, the time you probably have your Easter or Easter Holidays in your countries. In Greece however, this year the Greek Orthodox Easter is celebrated on Sunday May 5th, and there for our “Greek Easter course in Nafplion” takes place from 27/4 till 9/5. For more information about all the 2013 intensive courses in Athens, Nafplion, Syros, Andros and Lefkada, have a look at http://www.omilo.com/cms/index.php? option=com_content&view=article&id=9&Itemid=13&lang=en#nafplion We hope you like the various course locations and look forward to welcome you in one of our programs. Greece is as beautiful as ever, the people as nice as ever, the weather as sunny as ever and the language as “interesting” as ever…What are you waiting for??

In this Newsletter we will write about
1. Would you cycle in Athens? 2. A walk in Gazi 3. A little bit of Mythology 4. A modern look at the ancient Greek world

5. Letters from our students

1. Would you cycle in Athens?
Do you enjoy bike rides? Do you bike to work? At last, now also in Athens, the bicycle gradually becomes more and more popular. The bicycle, as means of transport, was not used at all some years ago. However, in the last 2-3 years the situation has changed considerably. More and more bicycles circulate on the roads of Athens (and not only). Initially, the trend began by bike enthusiasts who wanted to establish it as a lifestyle. Later, because of the crisis, many realized that the bike could replace the car, not only for ecological reasons or physical activity, but also for financial reasons. Clean environment, less traffic, good wellbeing and…”full wallet”! So yes, the bike appears more and more in the Athens streets. Perhaps Athens is not a very bike-friendly city: the lack of bike lanes and the hilly streets does not make it so easy to use a bicycle. However, a lot of efforts are made to improve the conditions. There is an increasing number of bicycle parking areas and bike lanes are being constructed or are planned to be constructed (at a slow pace). Moreover, for some time now, bikers are allowed to carry their bicycles on trains, tram and metro. In general, the mentality is changing and the Athenians are gradually appreciating the benefits of cycling. Also, in order to encourage the cycling, a lot of bike rides are organized. In big cities weekly biking meetings are organized for an evening ride. Don’t be surprised if on a Friday night you meet 3040 cyclers on a big avenue, for example on Kifissias Avenue. Some contests are also organized and the prize of course is…………….. a bike! The second campaign, titled “Bike to work”, took place last May. During the campaign, all biketransportations to and from work were reported. 776 cyclers participated from 137 organizations and companies all over Greece. In 2011, only 337 cyclers took part from 40 companies. It is obvious that biking becomes popular. Maybe next year, the Omilo team and its students should participate as well.

2. A walk in Gazi
Which is your favorite walk in Athens? Thiseio, Plaka and Monastiraki are beautiful neighborhoods to go for a walk or a coffee. They are usually crowded and for those of you that visited center Athens, certainly you have been in those areas at least once. They are the famous touristic areas. But Athens has more neighborhoods close to the city center, which are excellent for a walk. One of them is Gazi. Gazi is located south of Thiseio, only a ten minute walk away. It includes the archeological site of Kerameikos and the old Gas factory, from which the area took its name. In ancient times, the area was inhabited by ceramists, because the soil was suitable for pottery. However, because of a river, which recently came to surface again, the area could not be inhabited for long, so the Athens cemetery was built there. Today the archeological site is open to visit as well as its museum, where artifacts from recent excavations are exposed. About 300 meters from the ancient cemetery, the Gas factory was established in 1857. It supplied Athens with gas, both for public lighting and for domestic use. In 1984, the factory closed and in 1987 it was considered to be a landmark. The City of Athens undertook its conservation. The site today is a museum of the factory‘s history and technology and in the same time it is used for cultural and artistic events. Concerts and exhibitions are now taking place in Gazi throughout the year. Gazi is changing in the evening. In the area around the factory there are a lot of bars and cafes, taverns and fine restaurants, night clubs and theatres. Gazi at night turns into one of the most vibrant Athens neighborhoods and can meet every taste. On top of that, the new metro station “kerameikos” started operating since two years, in the middle of the Gazi square. We suggest you follow this route and you will have the opportunity to see the history of Athens, starting from antiquity (ancient cemetery and museum), continuing into the 19th century (Gas factory) and reaching the present, the new cosmopolitan Gazi neighborhood, where you can discover how modern Athenians enjoy themselves. Omilo always organizes a cultural walks in this area during the intensive language courses in Athens. In case you are not a student taking Greek lessons, but exploring Athens during a city-trip, then you can simply book the “cultural walk of your choice”. Have a look at: http://www.omilo.com/cms/index.php? option=com_content&view=article&id=30&Itemid=39&lang=en

3. A little bit of Mythology
Every place in Greece has a mythical tradition. Ancient Greek always wanted to associate places with stories about Gods or famous heroes. Since OMILO organizes in June 2013 a course on the island of Lefkada, we would like to mention the rich mythological tradition of this island. Lefkada, one of the Ionian Islands, took its name from the cape of Lefkata. There are two versions about the origin of this name. One version says that the name comes from the white color of the cape’s rocks. The other version says that the name comes from Lefko, an unlucky Zakynthian friend of Odysseus. In Antiquity, the cap of Lefkata was famous. According to a tradition, anyone who jumped from the rocks could escape the torment of love. The region had this status because Jupiter used to have a rest there between his love adventures. A lot of people are said to be saved jumping from the rocks. Sappho also jumped, because she wanted to relieve herself of her love to Faon. Another tradition is associated with the temple of Apollo, which is situated in the region. According to the myth, once a year, Lefkadians had a ceremony to purify the city. They threw a convict from the rock so as to prevent the evil for the city or because this way the Gods could punish the convict. Certainly, there are a lot of other myths for Lefkada and many beautiful rocks with splendid views! You are welcome to jon us during the June course to explore all this and hear much more stories! And do not worry; we never throw students from the rocks…..

4. A modern look at the ancient Greek world
Greek Antiquity attracts everyone‘s interest. The Trojan War, the Athenian democracy and Alexander the Great are few of the ancient world’s highlights, causing admiration to those involved in the Antiquity, and not only. During their scholar years in Greece, Greek children are taught Homer, Thucydides, Sophocles, Plato etc. At the same time, they learn ancient Greek (or at least they try to!). After 12 school years of contact with the ancient world, children either adore it or they find it incredibly boring. As always, the way of teaching plays a major role and it usually depends on the teacher if a student is motivated or would like to learn more about ancient times…… Two history teachers in Honolulu found an entertaining way to keep the children’s interest alive. They made video clips using images from the Antiquity and changing the lyrics of well-known songs, in order to give them an educational content. Here are some examples: http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=pdTigtNMmDQ and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jz3d5x-MUT4

In Great Britain there was a similar project. This time, the students from two schools in Reading created stories using images of ancient Greek vases, which are exhibited in the Ure Museum of Greek Archeology. The result is fascinating .Have a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asfj4FoGwcI However, Antiquity does not only inspire people for educational purposes, but also for commercial, aesthetic and other purposes. The results are sometimes impressive, sometimes funny or sometimes lack taste.! For example: 1. A successful shoe company produces fashion ancient Greek style sandals. The sandals are nice and highly shouted in Greece and abroad.

2. In 2009, students at Fairfield University College of Connecticut worked on a project titled: The Caryatid Hairstyling Project. They are pieces of art. Would you try them?

3. Of course it is hard to say what is nice and what is not. A matter of taste! What do you think about the proud Cretan who built his restaurant as if it were the Knossos Palace? Red columns in the entrance, the prince with the lilies on the façade, all harmoniously blended… with the Greek and the European flag? In general, the Greek Antiquity is everywhere around us: in the Hollywood movies, the hairstyles the clothes, buildings, etc… For even more modern versions of the Greek world, just click on: www.consumingantiquity.blogspot.gr And let us know your opinion!! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

5. Letters from our students.
Αγαπητοί filoi , Χαιρετισμοί από την Πελοπόννησο, από την Κάρολ και μένα! Τι κάνετε; Καλά; Είμαστε εδώ, κοντά στην Πύλο, στο σπίτι μας μέσα στις ελαιώνες. Πράγματι, οι ελιές μου μόλις μας έδωσαν 700 κιλά λάδι! Διαβάζω τώρα ένα βιβλίο, "Greece 1940-41 Eyewitnessed", και βρήκα κάτι που νομίζω θα σας ενδιαφέρει. Ένας Γερμανός περίγραψε την διαμονή του στο Ναύπλιο, όπου περιέχονται Βρετάννικοι αιχμάλωτοι μετά την μάχη της Κόρινθο το 26.4.41. Έχει μια φωτογράφια (που προσκολλώ) της "φυλακής", που θα αναγνωρίσετε. Είναι το σχόλειο στο Ναύπλιο που χρησημοποιείτε για τα μαθήματά σας την Πάσχα! Ένας άλλος αιχμάλωτος, από την Νέα Ζηλανδία, έγραψε στο ημερολόγιο του, το 28.8.41: "After the wounded and officers had been removed in captured British trucks, the rest of us were marched to Nafplion, where we were put into an improvised camp in the playground of a school." Άρα, νομίζω που είναι σίγουρο. Σε περίπτωση που αναρωτιέσται αν διαβάζω Ελληνικά βιβλία, μπορώ να πω ναι. Το παρόν (και το μέλλον για μέρικους μήνες!) είναι "Το Ονειρό της Αννέ", του Στέλιου Στυλιανού. Σας εύχoμαι καλή επιτυχία, σ'ένα δυσχολο καιρό. David Βrown +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ ++++++++ We thank David for his nice and interesting letter + photo. Soon we will be in Nafplion again, where history is all around us. Fortunately the school is a real school again and will serve as an ideal place to motivate students to learn Greek! +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ ++++++++ We hope we will receive more emails and letters. You are all welcome to send us letters and impressions, to be part of this Newsletter. The next one is foreseen in two months.

Many greetings from Athens, The OMILO team.

OMILO, PO Box 61070, 15101 MAROUSSI, ATHENS Tel. (0030)210-612.28.96 email: info@omilo.com