Latin and Greek are dying. These beautiful languages, once studied by the most elite and forward-thinking scholars, have been pushed into the background in schools across the globe in favor of “more useful” modern languages; however, it is of vital importance to maintain, if not increase, the world’s passion for classics. Knowing Greek and Latin make it easier to learn other languages and understand some of the most significant events in ancient history that are fundamental in the history of Western civilization—as seen in medical terminology, the architecture of cities, and democracy as we know it.
The Paideia Institute, inspired by the late and esteemed Latinist Reginald Foster, strives to teach students and teachers alike the value that classical languages hold in society today. Paideia is a gem in terms of opportunities regarding the classics. The Institute offers an extremely wide variety of programs for students to take part in, including Living Latin in Rome, Living Latin in Rome High School, Living Greek in Greece, Living Greek in Greece High School, Living Latin in Paris, and Caesar in Gaul. Paideia’s programs in Rome and Greece include separate opportunities for college and high school students to travel to Italy and Greece to practice Latin and ancient Greek. Paideia’s style is unique, as the instructors at each program teach students how to speak these ancient languages—an uncommon phenomenon in regular classrooms. Additionally, students are able to travel to cities that hold such great significance in human history, thereby connecting the texts they read in school and the programs themselves to real-life ancient relics and sites.
There are also options for younger children who have a desire to explore Latin. The Paideia Institute has extended its hand to schools and community organizations through their Aequora program, which offers Latin classes for children in elementary and middle schools. Not only does Aequora educate students about Latin syntax and grammar, but it also makes learning Latin enjoyable and fun for students, teachers, and volunteers. There are over 30 Aequora sites throughout the United States. Volunteers are always welcome at any site to help teachers share their love for Latin with students.
The Paideia Institute, along with Fordham University’s Department of Classics, hosts an annual two-day Latin and Greek conference called Living Latin and Greek in New York City. This conference is open to anyone interested in the classics, from high school seniors to experienced teachers. Speaking the classical languages is encouraged at this conference, especially during the special Cena Latina (“Latin Dinner”). Additionally, lectures given entirely in Latin or ancient Greek are available to participants throughout the course of the conference. This approach to learning more about Latin and Greek ultimately leads to a greater appreciation for these intricate and important classical languages.
I am personally able to attest to Paideia’s ability to foster love for the classics. I, myself, wish to spread the joys that Latin and Greek bring to the classroom and have found that this is possible through Paideia. I participated in Living Latin in Rome High School this past summer. It was my first experience outside America and I am so grateful and thankful that I was able to travel with Paideia for it. I learned more than I could ever have imagined, and not only about the Latin language itself. While writing a play about Ovid’s Pyramus and Thisbe I was able to put my knowledge of Latin grammar to the test. When walking around Rome, Florence, and Sperlonga, I was able to see the places in which the texts and speeches I’d read had taken place. Additionally, I have served as a volunteer through the Aequora program, which has brought me such joy and happiness. Sharing my passion for Latin with others has only increased my own love for the language. I have cherished every second of my experiences at Paideia—so much so, that I plan to participate in Living Greek in Greece High School this coming summer.
You can find applications for Paideia’s programs, events, volunteer opportunities, and scholarships on their website, www.paideiainstitute.org. I hope that you, with the help of the Paideia Institute, will keep Latin and Greek alive.
Anastasia Kaliabakos took part in the Living Latin in Rome program last summer. Currently, she tutors underrepresented students in Latin and plans to study the classics as a freshman in college next year.