Love of language and people drives Cathy to learn Greek


Love of the language and Greek culture brought Catherine Edwards to La Trobe University to enrol in its Modern Greek language programme.

She was drawn to learning other languages since childhood when she would sit at her dad’s computer and pronounce words from other languages.

“I studied French from school and into university. I gained proficiency with in and I now teach VCE students and I help French people to speak English,” Ms Edwards said. She graduated from Melbourne University with a Bachelor of Arts.

When she decided to go to Mexico and Cuba, she learnt Spanish and she also studied Japanese and Turkish languages.

Her decision to learn Greek was motivated by a number of factors but what first drew to the language was the music particularly that of Crete.

“What drew was the music, its literature and how people express themselves. It is very powerful and I was also interested in its history.

“There are many different cultures in Greece and I want to learn more,” she said.

Her plans to visit Greece were knocked back by the COVID-19 pandemic but she hopes to redress that next year once travel becomes a more stable proposition.

“I am drawn to Athens and its rich contemporary arts culture and, of course, its history. Then there is Thessaloniki and its northern culture. I also would like to visit the Ionian islands and the relationships between Greek and Italian cultures.”

Her love of language is also shaped by her desire to help others. While she graduated from Melbourne University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, in 2019 she graduated with a Masters of Social Work from RMIT University. She said that with such a large Greek population in Melbourne, learning Greek will inevitably be useful in her work.

While she has been tutoring for nearly six years, she also works for a disability advocacy organisation and manages to juggle the demands of her paid work with her Modern Greek studies.

READ MORE: “Greek is not only for Greeks”: Keeping the language alive in Australia

“I am interested in policy and overcoming barriers to accessing services.”

Listening actively and with empathy is an important part of her work in a time when the COVID restrictions made her social work more complex.

“COVID-19 changed the way we work and how we interact with our clients. Learning languages has given me an appreciation of the way people express themselves and their needs

“Sometimes I have to work out how people on the other side of the phone have understood me (because of the language difference). I have met many people in my work for whom English is a second language and it is particularly difficult over the phone.”

Learning Greek, she said would have relevance in Melbourne with its large Greek community.

She plans to build on her love of language by enrolling in a broader linguistics degree.

“I am now going over the basic course material and looking at the different components of language. I am very excited about learning, people and how they express themselves,” Ms Edwards said.

READ MORE: “Greek studies can take you places”



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