I had the wonderful opportunity to meet and chat with a 21-year-old Greek college student attending university in Athens. The trick was that we met on-line in Second Life
. As some of you know, there are virtual environments here that reproduce real-world features (like Rome). In this case, we met in virtual Hellas, a reproduction of a modern Greek beachtown complete with seaside, cafes, ruins, shops, and more. If you have Second Life on your computer, click here
to navigate to Hellas. This place is popular with both native and transplanted Greeks, so you can trot out your Doric and see how far you get. The Greek is transliterated into Latin characters, so saying "hello" is typed as "geia sou".
My guide's name on the Grid is Evelinaaa Ferraris, and she is, blushingly, a member of the in-world Bacchus Dancers. After talking about Panathinaikos' glory days a few years back (that's Greek football to those of you scoring at home), I asked her if her university classes (like English) were using technology to teach. She said no, and followed that up with the fact that the country only got high speed Internet "recently" and that Greece has been slow to trust eBusiness. So she is left to study traditionally, cutting loose in Second Life in the evenings. Her brother attends college in the US and is impressed with what he feels to be the omnipresence of technology here. Evelinaaa did know that a lot of US schools have a presence in SL (she cited CalTech), and I told her about Robert Welch University and San Jose State (home of Sloodle).
I mentioned that I worked for Blochazy-Carducci Publishers and that we specialized in Latin and Greek textbooks. Evelinaaa asked if we had a Second Life store yet, and I said no. We're considering opening up for business in SL and are doing a cost/benefit analysis on this. Other companies are doing this -- it's a whole new way to reach an audience and to sell books. I look forward to exploring the possibilities.
Our tour of virtual Hellas included a stop at the archaeological site (under construction!), an outdoor art gallery, a theater (where there will be a beauty pageant tomorrow night at 9, Athens time). Greek art, ancient and modern, is everywhere. People talk in a mix of Greek and English. I look forward to my next trip to the Grid to talk more about education and Second Life with denizens of virtual Greece. My SL name is MagisterP Holmer should you want to meet in-world.