Report on launch of the Alexander the Great exhibition

20121127-175116.jpg

Ο Μέγας Αλέξανδρος έφθασε στο Σύδνεϋ
Με ιδιαίτερη λαμπρότητα εγκαινιάστηκε την Παρασκευή η πολυ-αναμενώμενη έκθεση «Μέγας Αλέξανδρος: θυσαυρούς 2500 χρόνων» στο Αυστραλιανό Μουσείο στο Σύδνεϋ. Έντονο το Ελληνικό στοιχείο ανάμεσα στου καλεσμένους με τον νέο Πρέσβη της Ελληνικής Δημοκρατίας, Εξοχότατο Χαράλαμπο Δαφαράνο, η κυρία Δαφαράνου, ο κ. Γενικός Πρόξενος Βασίλειος Τόλιος και η κυρία Τόλιου, και ο Πρόεδρος του Συλλόγου Ελληνο-Αυστραλών Εκπαιδευτικών, Δρ Παναγιώτη Διαμάντη.

Την έκθεση την εγκαινίασαν η Κυβερνήτης της Νέας Νοτίου Ουαλίας, Professor Marie Bashir. Χαιρετισμοί απύθηναν ο Πρέσβης της Ρωσσικής Ομοσπνδίας, κ. Βλάντιμιρ Μοροζόβ, καθώς και στελέχη του Μουσείου Ερμιτάζ Αγίας Πετρούπολης και του Αυστραλιανού Μουσείου.

Όπως τόνισε ο Ρώσος πρέσβης, η έκθεση στάλθηκε από την Αγία Πετρούπολη στα πλαίσια των εορτασμών των 70 χρόνων από την σύναψη διπλωματικών σχέσεων Ρωσίας-Αυστραλίας.

«Αυτή η έκθεση παρουσιάζει διάφορες πτυχές του Μεγάλου Αλεξάνδρου», δήλωσε ο Διευθυντής του Αυστραλιανού Μουσείου, κ. Frank Howarth. «Η κληρονομιά του μέσα από τον Ελληνισμό είναι αυτά που επηρέασε – σχέδιο, πολιτική, αρχιτεκτονική, αισθητική – καθώς και αυτούς που τον θαύμαζαν, όπως ο Ναπολέων, η Βασίλισα Χριστίνα της Σουηδίας, και η Μέγα Αικατερίνη της Ρωσίας.»

Σύμφωνα με τον κ. Howarth, «ολόκληρη η έννοια του Ελληνισμού, το τι αποτελούσε ο Ελληνικός πολιτισμός» εκφράζετε με ένα μεγάλο κομμάτι της έκθεσης: το χρυσό επιτραπέζιο ρολόϊ με την μορφή του Μεγάλου Αλεξάνδρου, εμπνευσμένο από την έναρξη του απελευθερωτικού αγώνα των Ελλήνων, της Εθνικής Παλιγεννεσίας του 1821. (βλέπε φωτό)
Από την Ελληνική Ορθόδοξη Κοινότητα ΝΝΟ παρεβρέθηκαν ο πρόεδρος κ. Χάρυ Δανάλης, ο κ. Μιχάλης Τσιλίμος και άλλα στελέχοι του φορέα. Η ΕΟΚ ΝΝΟ ήταν ένας από τους χορηγούς της εκδήλωσεις για τα εγκαίνια της έκθεσης.

Σημειώνουμε ότι είναι η δεύτερη φορά που το Αυστραλιανό Μουσείο φιλοξενεί έκθεση με θέμα τον Μακεδονικό Ελληνισμό. Η πρώτη ήταν το 1988, όταν, στα πλαίσια των εορτασμών για τα 200α γεννέθλια της Αυστραλίας, η Ελλάδα έστειλε έκθεση ευρυμάτων από την αρχαία βασιλική νεκρόπολη στην Βεργίνα.

Έντονο το Ποντιακό στοιχείο
Όπως θα αναμενόταν, το Ποντιακό στοιχείο είναι πολύ έντονο στην μεγαλοπρεπή έκθεση αρχαιοτήτων. Μεγάλο μέρος της έκθεσης αποτελείτε από αρχαία Ελληνικά ευρήματα από τις Ελληνικές πόλεις στις βόρειες ακτές του Ευξείνου Πόντου.

Για παράδειγμα, στην φωτό απεικονίζετε ένας γόρυτος από το Βοσπορικό Βασίλεο (σήμερα ανατολική Κριμέα και ακτές της Αζοφικής Θάλασσας). Χρυσό δημιούργημα του 350 με 325 πΧ, το 1863 ανακαλύφθηκε σε τύμβο Σκύθων στο Chertomlyk της νοτίου Ουκρανίας.

Ο γόρυτος απεικονίζει την ανακάλυψη απο τους Οδυσσέα και Διομήδη, του ήρωα του Τρωικού Πολέμου, Αχιλλέα, ανάμεσα στις γυναίκες της Σκύρου.

Το μοναδικό αυτό αντικείμενο συνδέει τα στοιχεία της έκθεσης, με επίκεντρο το πρόσωπο του Μεγάλου Αλεξάνδρου: πανάρχαιες Ελληνικές ιστορίες, Ελληνικές αποικίες στα άκρα του τότε γνωστού κόσμου, επίδραση πολιτιστική στους γύρους ‘βάρβαρους’, …

Συλλόγοι
Η ΑΧΕΠΑ ΝΝΟ και η Ποντιακή Αδελφότητα ΝΝΟ «Ποντοξενιτέας» διοργανώνουν ομάδες για να επισκεπτούν την έκθεση. Καλούντε ΟΛΟΙ οι παροικιακοί φορείς να κατέβουν στον ιστορικό αυτό χώρο δίπλα στο Hyde Park, να δηλώσουν όσο ποιό δυναμικά γίνετε την Ελληνική παρουσία.

Θέλετε να προωθήσετε την ιστορική αλήθεια για την Ελληνική ταυτότητα της Μακεδονίας; Αγοράστε εισητήρια για την έκθεση και δωρίστε τα σε μη-Ελληνικής καταγωγής φίλους και γνωστούς για Χριστουγεννιάτικα δώρα!

Η μεγαλειώδης έκθεση «Μέγας Αλέξανδρος: θυσαυρούς 2500 χρόνων» θα βρίσκετε στο Αυστραλιανό Μουσείο στη γωνία William και College Streets στο Σύδνεϋ μέχρι τις 28 Απριλίου 2013. Για περισσότερες πληροφορίες, τηλεφωνήστε στο 136 100.

Extinct wombat climbed trees like a koala

Fossils have shed light on a wombat-like creature that once lived in Australia’s rainforest canopies.

Nimbadon is thought to be a tree-dwelling marsupial that lived 15 million years ago. (Illustration: Peter Schouten)
FOSSILISED REMAINS OF AN early relative of the wombat suggest that the marsupial lived in treetops around 15 million years ago.

The ancient bones, uncovered in an outback Queensland cave in the 1990s, could be the remains of the largest known tree-climbing marsupial, according to new research.

Scientists from the University of New South Wales and the University of Adelaide examined the skeleton of the species, known as Nimbadon lavarackorum, which was discovered at the Riversleigh World Heritage fossil field. The research revealed that the 70kg marsupial was equipped with powerful limbs to scale tree trunks.

Dr Karen Black, a palaeontologist from UNSW’s School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, says it was a surprise discovery given the animal’s hefty size and close ties to the wombat.

“To have a wombat-like animal up a tree was pretty amazing,” Karen says. The largest tree-climbing marsupial alive in Australia today is the Bennett’s tree kangaroo, which can weigh up to 14kg.

Extinct marsupial climbed trees like a koala

The scientists compared the Nimbadon skeleton with bones from living animals such as the koala, brushtail possum and Malayan sun bear. Honing in on the limbs, hands and feet, the study found the Nimbadon had the most in common with the koala.

“It had highly-mobile shoulder, elbow and wrist joints, so it was flexible for grabbing branches and climbing,” says Karen. “It also had very large hands and feet with opposable thumbs, and massive claws almost identical to a koala’s.”

Karen says these traits suggest that Nimbadon behaved similarly to the modern-day koala, using the same trunk-hugging method to climb trees.

But Karen says the team also found some highly unusual characteristics. The Nimbadon had relatively short hind limbs, suggesting it may have hung from branches like a sloth or orangutan.

The marsupial also sported a unique bulbous snout. “Maybe it was detecting rainforest fruits with its big nose, so it possibly could have played a role as a large seed disperser in Australia’s rainforest, which no living marsupial in Australia does,” Karen says.

Fossils reveal Australian fauna evolution

It is believed the Nimbadon died out about 15 million years ago. It was around this time that Australia’s rainforests began to recede, gradually being replaced with drier landscape.

Associate professor Rod Wells, a palaeontologist at Flinders University in Adelaide, says piecing together Australia’s early fossil record, dating back to eras such as the Miocene period, is no easy task.

“This paper represents a step beyond phylogeny [the family tree of a species],” Rod says. “It is important in that it gives us an all too rare insight into the biomechanics and behaviour of a middle Miocene marsupial, arguably Australia’s largest arboreal herbivore.”

Rod hopes further research will lead to greater insights into the evolution of Australian mammal and marsupial fauna.

The findings were originally published in scientific journal PLOS ONE.

20121127-114338.jpg

The years and years of notes, eventuated as the book Do You Know Who I Am?

The cover of Adrianne’s book, Do You Know Who I Am?

As the daughter of Greek Cypriot parents, author Adrianne Roy would jot notes about what it was like for first generations living in England; identity struggle, dramatic events and the search for independence in what she coins a “man’s world”.

The years and years of notes, eventuated as the book Do You Know Who I Am? “The book is about the journey of that generation of Cypriots who left their sun-baked rural villages of Cyprus in the ’40s and ’50s and sailed for England hoping for a better life and found themselves in smoggy cramped post-war London with its newfound language barriers and culture clashes. It is a comedy, but with dramatic undertones which shows how those Cypriots slowly became anglicised. It is both historic and nostalgic.”

The book has already been optioned by an English film production company to turn it into an international feature film. The screenplay is currently under commission and the producers expect the script to be ready by the end of this year. “I want to put our island on the world map,” says the author. “I want the world to see our peoples journey and how inspirational they are.

It was a daunting prospect for those who uprooted from their homeland to seek a better life in a far away country with no money in their pocket, no education and no language and surviving against the odds through hardship. “In times where there were no conveniences or technology they got on with it with humour and never complained.” Humour is a large part of the book, as is the journey of the migrant.

“It was the humour that kept that generation of English Cypriots going through very hard times,” she explains. “You can hide sorrow and hardship behind humour and this is the essence of my book. The title also has a double meaning : many Cypriots use that phrase as a form of egoistic humour but underneath it hides the sadness of living a double life not knowing whether you are Cypriot or English.”

Adrianne has already started on her second book and has well and truly given up her career in law, which she has been working in for over 15 years.

“To me, writing is my fulfilment in life. Like some people have hobbies for example the gym, sports, gardening; for me writing is my hobby. It is my pleasure and my therapy.”

To purchase Do You Know Who I Am? go to amazon.co.uk

Dr James Arvanitakis was presented with the $50,000 Prime Minister’s Award for Australian University Teacher of the Year this week

Dr James Arvanitakis was presented with the $50,000 Prime Minister’s Award for Australian University Teacher of the Year this week. The lecturer from the University of Western Sydney was recognised for his innovative teaching methods that captivate and engage his students.

And now, the Greek Australian lecturer has been invited to South Africa and Europe to expose other educators to his methods of teaching. Dr Arvanitakis says he recognised for three reasons.
One is his ability to bring theoretical concepts to life and adds “it doesn’t matter if they were written in the 1800’s or today what I do is bring them to life and show how they are relevant to people in their everyday experiences”.

The second thing is he makes learning fun. For example, he has made students participate in flash mobs to showcase chaos theory and globalisation. And thirdly, he has taken his teaching to the community and spends a lot of his time and school and community education places talking about the power of a university education and teaching.

As a lecturer, Dr Arvanitakis embraces new media and social media wholeheartedly and says that “strategically”, all universities need to do, as it has revolutionised the tertiary education industry. “The lecture is almost like the physical newspaper – we all love it, but we realise we have to change to survive. I think universities are also with that.”

And he doesn’t see new media as a competition, rather he uses it to his advantage. In his lectures, he allows Facebook to be active and text messaging to allow students who would otherwise be too shy to pose a question to do so using these mediums.

This gives them a way to educate and learn using new media. However, he also says the way the content is delivered is dependant on the course itself but says a combination of new media and the face-to-face model of delivering a lecture are both needed and are almost expected by students.

“I teach a subject called ‘contemporary societies’, and you can’t teach that without engaging with that concept – new media, new ways of communicating,” he says. The child of Greek migrants, Dr Arvanitakis says his parents instilled in him the importance of an education. And this he has carried throughout his years to today where he says he is “blown away by the positive response of the students” as well as receiving this accolade.

With the $50,000, the lecturer plans on developing new ways to deliver content and educate students. One such way is to develop an online game where students can learn about sociology whilst engaging in something similar to Angry Birds.

He has also been invited to lead teaching symposiums in South Africa, Canada and Europe and also wants to invest the money in putting together different and innovative ways to teaching such as videos.

Author of ‘Between Shades of Gray’ on the discovery of a letter from her Lithuanian grandfather

Source: HuffPostBooks

20121127-074742.jpg

At a recent event in Sweden, a student asked if my novel, Betweenh Shades of Gray, was primarily a search for history. I explained that it was not only a search for history, but also a search for story.
For years I recounted what I thought was my family’s story.

Then in 2005, while visiting relatives in Lithuania, I discovered I only knew part of the story, the happy part. I didn’t know that following my grandfather’s departure from Lithuania, members of his extended family were deported to Siberia.

Stalin’s deportations to Siberia had affected countless families in the countries of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, yet much of the world knew nothing of it.

During that visit to Lithuania I was inspired to write a book.

One girl.

Her dream of freedom.
A voice to speak for those who would never have a chance to tell their story.
As I was writing Between Shades of Gray I felt deeply connected to my grandfather’s love of Lithuania. I longed to have a conversation with him about his experience and about our relatives who had been deported to Siberia.

Between Shades of Gray was released and I embarked on book tours worldwide. I met countless people whose families had been affected by Stalin’s terror or whose loved ones had perished in Siberia. Many people inquired about my family’s personal Siberian story, but I didn’t have any concrete details to share.

Then last April I was invited to the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture in Chicago to attend “Hope & Spirit,” an exhibition dedicated to the millions of victims of Soviet atrocities. A portion of the program, “Letters From Siberia,” displayed hundreds of letters and photographs that had made their way from Lithuanians exiled in Siberia.

Every letter, every photograph, contained a story. The exhibit was emotional, passionate, and gave attendees a rare glimpse into this little known piece of history. But walking through the aisles I felt the aching reminder that one story was still missing — my own family’s story.

Two months later I received a phone call from Dr. Audrius Plioplys, the creator and curator of “Hope & Spirit.” He explained that in 1977, a Lithuanian priest in Chicago placed an advertisement in a newspaper, requesting letters and photographs from Siberia. The priest was publishing a book to create an awareness of the deportations.

The curator further explained that his colleague, Kristina Lapienyte, had been sorting through some of the priest’s belongings at the Lithuanian Research and Studies Center in Chicago. She saw the name “Sepetys” on a folder along with the words NOT FOR PUBLICATION. Ms. Lapienyte recognized the name from Between Shades of Gray and pulled the folder to examine it.

Dr. Plioplys then delivered the unimaginable. He told me that inside the folder were six photographs and nine letters about my family in Siberia. The folder also contained a personal letter from my grandfather.

In his letter, my grandfather requested that the material in the folder not be published at that time. He feared that publication would result in negative consequences for his family still in Soviet Lithuania. Instead, he asked that the material be held for the future, for someone who might be interested in documenting the history of Lithuanians in Siberia.

My grandfather wrote the letter and sent the materials to the priest in 1977. At that time I was a tiny girl with yellow pigtails, skipping around his legs, haggling for an ice cream. We would never speak of his escape from the Soviets, the loss of his homeland, or his family members who were deported to Siberia. Instead, he sent the information off to Chicago where it would sit in a dark basement for over thirty years, waiting for someone who was interested in the story.

What are the chances that “someone” would be me and I would dedicate the book to him?
People often ask why I bother with historical fiction. Why not write commercial fiction? Through historical fiction we find hidden histories and hidden heroes. We find stories that help us evaluate past tragedies and create hope for a more just future.

And sometimes, like this time, we find the most important story. Our own.
HOPE & SPIRIT was an extensive program of exhibits, film screenings, book signings, lectures and displays of original historical materials that took place at the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture in Chicago.

This exhibit continues to be available for viewing on the HOPE & SPIRIT website. Dr. Audrius Plioplys is fielding requests for the program to travel to other cities and countries. DVDs and CDs of the program are available for purchase.

For inquiries about Hope & Spirit contact Dr. Audrius Plioplys, email: plioplysav@gmail.com

20121127-074801.jpg