A language we can export

«I’ve known about ancient Greek civilization since I was at school. I learned about Socrates and Aristotle. Gradually I began to understand contemporary Greece as well. I don’t know what attracted me to your country; it was God’s decision,» said Yiwue Oo, 25, who is studying Greek at Beijing University. «I found it moving to teach Ancient Greek and for the students to talk to me about Plato and Socrates at the ends of the Earth,» said Greek teacher and Pedagogical Institute adviser Christina Veikou, who recently taught Modern Greek at the Western Languages department of Ramkhamhaeng University in Thailand. Two different generations, two different worlds, and one common element: a love for the language and culture of Greece. We met Yiwue Oo in downtown Beijing at her university, which is housed in striking traditional buildings dating from the late 19th century. «I’d like to go to your country to study Greek and come back here to teach it. I believe Greeks are hospitable people, and the pictures I’ve seen of the Greek islands are impressive,» she told Kathimerini, adding that it would be easy for her to find work since interpreters and translators are essential in a country that is opening up to the the rest of the world. «The department has been in operation for the past decade. Now there are 38 students,» said Veikou about Ramkhamhaeng University. «We have a language we can ‘export’ because it is based on ancient Greek culture and is at the root of European culture. It is one of six languages taught at the university, the others being English, French, Spanish, German and Russian.»