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Graduate gives $175,000 to support Department of Modern Greek and Byzantine Studies

20 November 2019
Donation enables new teaching material for Beginners Greek
Peter Pontikis, an alumnus of the University of Sydney, has generously pledged to donate a total of $175,000 for the teaching of Modern Greek language and culture.

Peter Pontikis’s gift of $35,000 per annum for the next five years will support the teaching of the Department of Modern Greek and Byzantine Studies, including the production of the first-ever textbook specifically tailored for the teaching of Modern Greek in the Australian tertiary education system.

University of Sydney graduate Peter Pontikis's professional headshot portrait of man dressed in black and white buisness suit and a blue tie with light blue and yellow-coloured dolphin pattern

University of Sydney graduate Peter Pontikis

“Peter Pontikis is one of the most engaged and committed life-long students of Greek culture and language,” said Professor Vrasidas Karalis, Chair of the Department of Modern Greek and Byzantine Studies. “Peter’s donation gives us the opportunity to prepare material for people who haven't studied Greek and want to explore their linguistic origins and foundational cultural stories.”

With the assistance of publication co-supervisor Associate Professor Anthony Dracopoulos and Modern Greek lecturer Sophia Sakellis, the textbook will be based on “a deep knowledge of the country’s educational system and language acquisition practices implemented in Australian primary and high schools.”

Peter Pontikis’s donation gives us the opportunity to prepare material for people who haven't studied Greek and want to explore their linguistic origins and foundational cultural stories.
Professor Vrasidas Karalis, Department Chair of Modern Greek and Byzantine Studies and Sir Nicholas Laurantus Professor of Modern Greek

 

Professor Adrian Vickers, Acting Head of the School of Languages and Cultures, signals that the prospective teaching material “will be a national and international resource.”

“It allows us to offer a program that is unique in Australia. The support given to our Modern Greek Studies by members of the Greek community is truly impressive. It is particularly pleasing to see how Mr Pontikis’s dedication and commitment to knowledge have led him to make this generous donation.”

Man sitting on a sofa chair at home with a red t-shirt with Greek text and an opened Modern Greek language book in his hands resting on his laps

Peter Pontikis reading Greek literature at home

“Having grown up in Australia, Peter realised that our department offered him the opportunity to connect with his heritage and develop strong links with the Greek-Australian community,” said Professor Karalis.

Peter thanks the Department of Modern Greek and Byzantine Studies for the opportunity to support the teaching of Modern Greek in the 21st century “with all its familiar and newer challenges to adapt and accommodate the engagement and delivery of effective inspiration of the most subversive, sacred and wellspring language.”

Peter Pontikis graduated from the University of Sydney with the Bachelor of Economics in 1984 and a Master of Arts in 2005. “It was my village and alma mater where life and its opportunities began to open for me. It was luck and a gift,” said Peter. “It is with deep gratitude that I have the honour to return to the sandstone starting block of my journey after half a life’s arc.”

Now based in Brisbane, Peter provides services to India and Southeast Asia and maintains a high international profile with his successful career in financial technology, treasury and investment management. With over three decades of industry experience, Peter has worked for a range of organisations, including KPMG, Westpac, St. George Bank, ANZ Trustees and Suncorp Banking.

Reflecting on his achievements, Peter described the University of Sydney as “an expedition that taught me more than just IQ and the graces of burnished EQ, but that of the importance of nurtured, supported and well-invested cultural capital or, simply, CQ – Cultural Quotient.”

“Cultural Quotient, or cultural intelligence, is borne out of constant exposure to and reflection on the diversity of human condition, nature and world history to which language documents and communicates,” said Peter.

“Indeed, language – the element that defines our very humanity as a species – is what connects us to a greater whole,” said Peter. “The Greek language plays a nuanced role throughout history in this connection with past endeavours and experiences, and still continues to do so today.”

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