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King's Alumna championing Classics in Asia

Studying Classics at King’s inspired Alumna Anastasia Christou to champion the subject in Hong Kong, where learning classical languages, notably Ancient Greek and Latin, is rare.

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Alumna Anastasia Christou with students from Hong Kong

Anastasia graduated with a first-class honours degree in Ancient History in 2008 and a Classics PGCE in 2010, and has since gone on to lead and expand Classics departments and programmes at Secondary Schools in London and Hong Kong.

One of her fondest professional memories is taking students from Hong Kong to Rome in 2017 and then to Greece in 2018, some of whom had not been to Europe before, to visit the famous archaeological sites and see the architecture of the Ancient Greeks and Romans in situ and with their own eyes: bringing to life what that they had been learning about in the classroom. Listening to her students’ attempts to read ancient inscriptions and then their excitement at being able to understand what the Greek tombstone or Latin graffiti were saying was priceless.

 

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“The expertise and enthusiasm of my lecturers at King’s spurred on my passion for Classics; to the extent that I wanted to pursue a profession that would allow me to keep learning the subject, but also one that would enable me to inspire and educate the next generation to appreciate the legacy of the Ancient Greeks and Romans and to realise that classical languages are immortal not dead!” says Anastasia.

“The skills that I developed during my undergraduate degree have also helped me during my professional adult life, such as conducting academic research; citing and referencing; extensive writing; working towards deadlines; time management; and team work.”

These transferable skills held Anastasia in good stead whilst completing her part-time Masters in Education (2011-2013) from another London university. Studying and living in the heart of London whilst at King’s also brought its life lessons, including budgeting; becoming street smart; and networking.

Anastasia enjoyed being part of the King’s College Ancient Greek Play during her time at King’s, on stage and backstage.

“I came to appreciate the immense effort and time that goes into a production and forged long-lasting friendships along the way,” she explains.

“Many of the friends that I made during my time at King’s are still some of my closest today. Furthermore, I am still in contact with some of my lecturers and tutors, which has happily led to opportunities to collaborate on various projects.

“For example, the King’s Classics Department and its counterpart at Hong Kong University formed a research partnership, which led to a series of lectures and workshops for students, parents and staff in February 2019 at the school I had worked at in Hong Kong,” Anastasia adds.

Anastasia has also run promotional events to raise the profile of Classics among the school communities in which she has worked. These include organising Latin Spelling Bees and student archaeological digs; leading trips to Greece and Italy; setting up outreach initiatives for local Primary schools; co-founding the Association of South-East Asian Classics Teachers (ASEACT); hosting teacher conferences, parent lessons and student workshops. Furthermore, whilst working as a Classics teacher, Anastasia has mentored trainee Classics teachers (some on placement from King’s); led a whole-school literacy drive; and been a teacher governor.

 

“My biggest honour is when my students choose to go on to read a classical subject at university (some at King’s) or even become Classics teachers themselves, but also two of my interns from Hong Kong are now teaching Latin in Asia!– Alumna Anastasia Christou
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“My biggest honour is when my students choose to go on to read a classical subject at university (some at King’s) or even become Classics teachers themselves, not to mention that two of my interns from Hong Kong are now teaching Latin in Asia!

“I am especially proud of having significantly expanded the Classics provision at the school in Hong Kong, which meant that many more students had access to learning Latin, Ancient Greek and Western Classics. With my Chinese Classics colleagues, we even introduced a Comparative Classics course, which compared the philosophy, history, art and literature of East and West!” adds Anastasia.

Anastasia concludes, “I appreciate that I stayed in the Classics field after my degree, but some of my fellow undergraduates are now lawyers, actors, bankers and writers (to name just a few career paths!): the possibilities are endless with a Humanities degree such as mine! I am eternally grateful to KCL and its Classics department for providing such an enriching experience throughout my time as an undergraduate and then as a postgraduate; for giving me the inspiration, knowledge and skills to pursue my career; for enabling me to work with young people, teaching them the subject I love and championing Classics!”

Presently, Anastasia is raising her daughter (who, of course, donned a classical name: Electra Ariadne!), whilst teaching Latin online to students in Beijing and being co-author of a new Classics PGCE course at the School of Education and Teaching at the University of Coventry.

You can follow Anastasia Christou's former Classics programme in Hong Kong at @ShuyuanClassics.