For two weeks in August Katherine and Cordelia attended the Paideia Institute's Living Greek in Greece Program in Selianitika, Greece. The Paideia Institute invites students during this program to study classical languages through speaking, as though they were modern languages. Twice a day we met with our class, guided by a resident Paideia instructor, and we talked in Ancient Greek about the text we were reading, about life in Greece, and about our everyday lives. This year we read Longus’ Daphnis and Chloe, a love story between two bucolic teenagers with divine lineages.
In addition to our classes, daily readings, and discussions, there were opportunities to discuss (in English and in Ancient Greek) the history of the modern Greek language, pitch accents in antiquity, and our opinions about the text. During the weekend, we also ventured to Patras, where we visited the archaeological museum and snorkled over ruins of a Roman house, and to Kalavryta, a small town on the edge of Arcadia. Our experience in Selianitika was truly unique, as we were lucky enough to live alongside the recipient of Paideia’s annual art fellowship. A highly talented sketcher and painter, the fellow sketched and painted participants as figures from Greek mythology.
Before the program, neither of us had ever spoken Ancient Greek, so this intensive class allowed us to explore the language more fully. We both found it difficult at first, but by the end sentences began to flow, and we began to take more risks, thus becoming more confident in our speaking abilities. Over the two weeks our knowledge of the text and command over the language increased greatly, and we came to appreciate speaking Ancient Greek as a pedagogical tool. We’re very thankful for a truly unforgettable, idyllic, and surreal experience.