A glorious and moving ceremony was held at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina on Monday, 21 October 2019, in celebration of the ten-year Anniversary of the Center for Hellenic Studies, which was inaugurated in 2008 and has been operating in the Library at the initiative of the Vardinoyannis family.
The event was organised by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in order to honour this important work.
In recognition of her great contribution and hard work over many years at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the Director of the Library, Dr. Mostafa El Feki, bestowed an honorary award on Mrs Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, who is the Founder and Honorary President of the Center for Hellenistic Studies, a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and a member of the Advisory Board. Mrs Vardinoyannis was surrounded by graduates of the Center for Hellenistic Studies, who offered her flowers and thanked her for her support during one of the highlights of the ceremony.
As she received the award, and after she congratulated the students, Mrs Vardinoyannis said she was deeply moved to have received this special honour and to be in Alexandria, a city which she considers “her second home,” and she gave her assurances that she will always support the Library by offering the opportunity to many young men and women to study there. (Read the full text of Mrs. Vardinoyannis’ speech.)
During the ceremony, Mrs Vardinoyannis gave a separate speech on the 2500th anniversary of the Battles of Thermopylae and Salamis, inviting the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and the Center for Hellenistic Studies to participate in these events, which will be cultural, artistic and educational in nature: “In 2020, Greece will have the unique opportunity to remind the entire planet that the ecumenical ideas of peace, freedom and democracy became a banner in the heroic battles which changed our world. This is the year when the 2500th anniversary of the Battles of Thermopylae Salamis will be celebrated. Two epic moments for Greece, for the Mediterranean and for Europe, which were a turning point for the Western Civilisation. Last week, His Excellency the President of the Hellenic Republic Mr Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Mr Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the opening of the celebrations and bestowed on me the honour of organising them. With 2020 being a year of important cultural and educational activities, I feel deeply touched to share this with you, hoping that the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and the Center for Hellenistic Studies will be our allies and participate in the festivities. This is an international anniversary and I invite you all to participate in this effort which will inspire the younger generation to create a better world” (excerpt from the speech by Mrs Vardinoyannis at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina for the 2500th anniversary of the Battles of Thermopylae and Salamis).
The Bibliotheca Alexandrina accepted Mrs Vardinoyannis’ proposal for participation in the celebrations 2500th anniversary of the Battles of Salamis Thermopylae with great joy.
His Eminence Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria and All Africa addressed the event and spoke at length about the important work of the Center for Hellenistic Studies and the contribution of the Vardinoyannis family: “This unique institution offers the opportunity to young men and women from across the world, from Egypt, Europe and the Middle East, to study the achievements of Hellenistic Alexandria towards acquiring a degree or a postgraduate diploma, or to delve even deeper into research, producing new knowledge and acquiring a PhD and pursuing a life of academic research. To become active members of the dialogue of cultures, the focus of which is justifiably the Alexandria Center. To be reborn as bright ambassadors of culture, fertilising every human environment they come into contact with after their graduation. In addition to being a beacon of knowledge for the past ten years, the Center has further consolidated the relations between Greece and Egypt and the deep historical and cultural synergies of our two people. The knowledge of the living history of the city of Alexandria, of ancient Greece and ancient Egypt, the awareness of the continuity of this historical course up to this day, bears more fruit that what is visible to the naked eye. We owe particular gratitude to you, honorary President of the Board of the Center for Hellenistic Studies of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Mrs Marianna Vardinoyannis: without your continuous and constructive support, the godly work we are celebrating today and its glorious future would never have been realised”. (Read the Patriarch’s full speech.)
The Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Dr Mostafa El Feki, referred to the contribution of the Vardinoyannis family to the creation and operation of the Center for Hellenistic Studies and thanked Mr Vardis I. Vardinoyannis and Mrs Marianna V. Vardinoyannis. He spoke about the close ties between Egypt and Greece and the ‘umbrella’ of culture over the two countries through time, regardless of the political-economic circumstances of each era. He spoke about Mrs Vardinoyannis’ role from day one of the foundation of the Library and he invited her to visit the Library every year, underlining her positive influence. (Full speech of the Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.)
The achievements of the Center for Hellenistic Studies throughout these ten years were presented by the Director of the Center, Professor Emad Khalil.
A total of 135 students have studied and acquired a degree in Hellenistic Studies to date or attended postgraduate studies in fields such as History, Literature, Arts, Archaeology, Architecture and Science. The Center has published a number of books and organised events, lectures, educational missions, international seminars and conferences, the most recent one being the international Seminar on Education and Capacity Building in Museum Studies, which took place on 8 October 2019 in Alexandria, in cooperation with the European “Erasmus +” Programme. With the University of Alexandria as its main partner, the Center cooperates with many more universities and academic institutes, such as the University of Oxford, the University of Southampton, the University of Rome, the Ecole de Louvre, the University of Vienna and many others, and in Greece it collaborates with the Democritus University of Thrace. Its partnership with the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens will begin in 2020 with Master’s level courses in Euro-Mediterranean studies and a new PhD-level course in Hellenistic studies. They are also launching programmes for children, to familiarise them with archaeology.
This was followed by a lecture by Professor Christos Zerefos, a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Hellenistic Studies, on the subject of “Counting with Shadows and Water Traces from Antiquity to this day.”
This great event was also attended by Representatives of the Local Authorities, the Greek Ambassador to Egypt, Mr Nikos Garilidis, Mrs Efi Zerefou, the President of the Greek Branch of the Friends of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Mr Andreas Zaimis, members and supporters of the “Friends of the Library,” such as Mrs Katerina Sofianou and Mrs Anastasia Milopoulou, members of the Board of the Center, such as the Deputy Director of the Library, Dr Hoda El Mikati and professor Farrag Ashraf, professors and students of the Center for Hellenistic Studies and many more representatives of the political, academic and intellectual world.