One thing we wanted to do with this website was to show the impact of the project and how much we actually enjoy doing what we do, so alongside sharing templates and stories, we’ll also have posts from the project team from time to time about why they are involved with Athena’s Owls. This post is brought to you by Zac, a true Classics enthusiast and sixth form student at Manchester Grammar School, who has been helping with Athena’s Owls since March alongside working towards his A-Levels in Greek, Latin, Spanish and English Literature. You can find Zac tweeting about Classics at @zjcopeland.
A monthly club aimed at young children and run by an overworked pair of PhD Students aiming to promote the education of two specific ancient civilisations, at first sounds like a very strange project. Like me, you’re probably wondering: “Why?”
I started volunteering with Kat and Matt at Athena’s Owls earlier this year, not quite sure what to expect. I thought turning up once a month might fit in quite nicely alongside my A-Level studies, as I came to complete my application to study Classics at university.
I was really keen on getting involved in some Classical outreach work. I’ve been privileged enough to be able to study Latin and Greek for the last five years and feel outraged that the education system doesn’t afford a greater number of people that privilege. However, I’ll admit that I was sceptical. I wasn’t quite sure how a semi-regular ‘crafts session’ aimed at such a young audience would fit the bill. Nevertheless I thought I’d give it a go.
During my first session as a helper we designed and made monsters after listening to a story of one of Hercules’ labours. I got helping one boy make his creation with an innumerable amount of arms by cutting out several limbs. Sparked by his enjoyment of Matt’s storytelling at the beginning of the session, he began to tell me all about the different myths he knew of: the other labours of Hercules, Theseus and the Minotaur and also some about Ancient Egyptian gods. It was at that point I realised exactly why we were all there.
Long before I could translate “Caecilius est in horto” or knew what the word Classics meant, when I was little, I was fascinated by the myths about the Ancient Greek Gods. My own love for the ancient world and desire to study it at a higher level now, all stems from this infatuation with these stories back when I was at Primary School. Since then, this ongoing passion of mine has continued to shape my academic life and has brought a cultural richness to my everyday life. That’s why I think Athena’s Owls is so important. If one child’s life is enriched like mine was, then that’s a job well done. If we can give a leg up for someone to discover a hidden love then that’s brilliant. And if we have a bit of fun along the way, that’s great too.