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1. What led to the creation of the UNB Centre for Hellenic Studies?

The concept originated years ago by Dr. Haruo Konishi, a retired Greek History Professor from the
Department of Classics whose dream was to establish a Centre for Hellenic studies at UNB. Courses
pertaining to Greek civilization have been taught at UNB since its establishment in 1785. Greek
language and Greek History, were courses once taken by all students attending UNB, regardless of
program. They are a part of UNB tradition. The program in Classics has since expanded to introduce
a broad range of courses pertaining to Greek civilization, Greek literature in translation, Women in
Antiquity, Greek Art, Archaeology, Mythology, The Trojan War, Modern Greek Literature and
History etc.

2. So you think that Greek culture is influential on contemporary world?

I believe that the Hellenic culture and language has a strong impact on contemporary life across such
diverse areas as art, architecture, politics, philosophy, social sciences, law, medicine, and the
sciences. Not to mention its impact on the film industry with movies and TV series. Now although
these films are far removed from historical reality (& textual reality) and may cause the poet Homer
to turn in his grave although personally I think he is actually having a good laugh with our modern
interpretations and perhaps is pleased that people are still interested in his works almost 2800 years
later!their popularity suggests a deep rooted interest in past human achievements. So, yes, I do
think it is remarkable that the foundations of Hellenic culture, born 3,000 years ago are still relevant
to our contemporary lives.


Why did you yourself take an interest in the Centre?

When I arrived at UNB ten years ago I found a department that had a keen interest in establishing
such a Centre and a group of very supportive colleagues who were eager to begin. I realized the
potential for such a Centre --a first in Atlantic Canada (and one of only a few across Canada) -- so
encouraged by my colleagues and with the assistance of the Dean of the Faculty of Arts work began.
As a result of our efforts we have had an overwhelming support and response from the Greek
Communities in New Brunswick and other Atlantic provinces, the government and institutions of
Greece, colleagues from other institutions (Dalhousie, St. Marys, Memorial) and of course our own
University which has wholeheartedly embraced this project.

4. What is, for you, the most intriguing part of Greek culture?
This is a difficult question to answer, since I myself am Greek, I have never really thought about it;
however, since you have posed this question I will respond as best as I can. It was during my first
visit to Greece at the age of 12 where, attracted by the ancient monuments and the countrys history,
I decided to become an archaeologist. But beyond my love for archaeology it is perhaps the ability
of Greek culture to unite people under one roof, regardless of their background that I find most
intriguing, as suggested by the following quote from a 3rd century AD Greek biographer Diogenes
Laertius who sums up the concept of Greek culture with the following words: my fatherland has no
single tower, nor any one roof, the whole earth is our town and home ready for us to dwell within.

4. Do you get any support from outside Canada?

I am pleased to say that the Greek Government is sending us teachers to give courses on Modern
Greek, so we could offer our students the evolution of what we teach in the Classics. We have also
received numerous book donations from various agencies in Greece that will assist in expanding our
library research facilities for students and faculty, especially in the area of classical archaeology. I

should acknowledge at this point the generous and ongoing financial support from the Ministry of
Culture and Education of Cyprus. Our supporters page on our UNB website is certainly growing!

5. What are the most important goals of the CHS?

The Centre seeks to foster an understanding and appreciation of the impact of Hellenic culture and
language on contemporary life by organizing public presentations for scholars and the general public
alike. We wish to continue offering credit and non-credit courses in Modern Greek and function as
the exam centre for the internationally recognized Certificate of Modern Greek Language Wed like
to keep sending our students to summer school in Greece, with the sponsorship of the Greek Ministry
of Culture. Finally, we aim to cultivate a network between Greek communities in Atlantic Canada, a
project that takes time but is worth pursuing.
6. Why should a student take an interest in Greek History and Culture?
Greek culture is considered the "cradle of western civilization." Greeks invented the alphabet (not to
mention that many of our English words, especially most medical and scientific terms are Greek:
economy, democracy, biology, anthropology, cardiology, etc.-to name but a few!). They influenced
nearly all domains of the Western culture. Take a walk through our campus or the city of Fredericton
and you are in for a surprise; the Greek architectural orders (Ionic Doric & Corinthian) can be seen in
numerous public and private buildings.

Sommerville House, Fredericton, New Brunswick

And last but not least two very important gifts to western civilization are olive oil and wine! What is
more, Greek history, language and culture instruct students in cross-cultural communications. The
Greek language in particular, sharpens analytical language skills and improves knowledge of English
and students ability in speech-making, writing, and English vocabulary. To quote one of our
students from China: By learning Modern Greek, I learn better English!
7. Have many students expressed interest in the trips to Greece?
The UNB summer trips to Greece are very popular and have been going for two decades. They fill
up early (maximum of 25) and there is often a waiting list. The next travel study is in May 2015. As
a matter of fact we have an information session today, held by Dr. Murray and Dr. Sears of the
Classics Department, which is the organizer of the project. The CHS assists with free Travel
Greek sessions to students and the escorts alike.
8. What are the future plans for Centre?
Our plans span from keeping up and expanding our academic work in the local community,
collaborating with institutions in and out of the country, finding funds for sending students to field
trips, for bilateral exchange programs with Greek Universities and research grants for students and
scholars and the list goes on. We think of the CHS as the link between UNB, the Atlantic Greek
communities and Greece.