Elementary Modern Greek is taught by Hrissi Haldezos, who is an alumna of Wesleyan, where she currently works as an administrator in student accounts. She has always loved languages, and was a Classical Studies major at Wesleyan where she studied Ancient Greek. She regularly visits her extended family in Greece, with the exception of the pandemic. Prof. Haldezos said interest for her class comes from heritage learners, students who hope to study abroad, and students who become interested in mainstream popular media (for ex: The Durrells in Corfu and Mamma Mia). Bobby Bourque, one of her current students, thought Modern Greek would be an interesting language to learn because he took a class on Latin Greek Etymology, and was familiar with Latin roots to Italian which he studies as well, and wants to become familiar with Greek roots. Sachita Jariwala, another student in her course, wanted to take a language class and was interested in trying a less commonly taught one, as it seemed fun to take advantage of the opportunity while she had the ability to do so.
Prof. Haldezos and her students enjoy the small class size (6 students) and the opportunity to get to know one another. Interestingly, Prof. Haldezos as well as the two students who were interviewed agreed on the challenges that come into play when learning Greek. Greek has its own alphabet so the students must start from scratch with learning a whole new alphabet. The most rewarding part of the class is being able to speak a new language even if it’s only a little bit. Bobby observed that Italian has prepared him for learning a new language in general, but Greek introduces many new concepts since it is not a Romance language. Sachita said that learning Greek is different from English and Gujarati, and that it’s fun to learn a new language with a completely different alphabet that doesn’t have ties to the languages she knows.
The students also mentioned that it may feel at times that the progression of the class is a little slow because they only meet once a week, but the CA sessions are helpful. The benefit is that the class can more easily fit in students’ class schedules.
Sachita enjoyed it when Professor Haldezos brought Greek food and snacks to class for their unit on the Mediterranean Diet. Bobby noted that many are familiar with ancient Greece through history and common knowledge, so it is fascinating to learn about modern Greek language and culture.
The class really enjoyed going out to a Greek restaurant together. The students had a fun dinner where they ordered in Greek, listened to the professor speak Greek to the waitress, and witnessed the patient waitress as they practiced their Greek. They also enjoyed delicious food! Modern Greek was also present during International Education Week with a Greek film night where Greek desserts were served!
Written by Lauren Greenberg’22