Archive for the ‘Social’ Category.

NEW Assyrian Thinker Website

Mustenu Sa Simti2By Abbey Mikha

Shlama and greetings from Canada! My name is Abbey Mikha and I am a graduate of the university of Windsor in the fields of Psychology and History. Other than working very hard on completing my degree in the past I have also been a volunteer writer for Assyrian Voice Emagazine since 2009.

When I graduated from university I became very serious about my writing and I love getting ideas out there into the world especially about my little Assyrian Christian nation that has been suffering so much in the past years, and also about current events which have been taking place.

I hope you will continue to enjoy my writing and sign up for my newsletter at my site and I will email you my new updates and articles. You can follow my blog called, “Assyrian Thinker” by clicking on the square tab next to the text that says, “Assyrian Thinker” at the top left of my website which I have posted bellow this article.

I also have a page for my book, “Mustenu Sa Simti” which in ancient Assyrian means changing my destiny. I will publish this book on this site in the upcoming months. I was not sure about publishing this book in the past but I’m going to take the leap soon. Keep checking the website to see new things added to the blog and site.

My complete published book: http://assyrianthinker.weebly.com/mustenu-sa-simti-by-abbey-mikha.html

I hope my writing will move your heart and awaken Assyrian nationalism and humanitarianism in you. We must remember that we, as human beings, have many more similarities than differences. Let us unite the human race because the truth is we are all one, but let us also be united in standing up against injustice and especially genocide! We are Assyrian and we are the last of our kind…

I have uploaded a new blog post to my site called, “Were Bluett and Spackman anti-Arab?” This is a question that we all must ask ourselves right now. I personally am not anti-Arab but I am anti-terror and I am against the needless killings that have been going on all around the world whether in the night club in Orlando, Florida or the airport in Turkey.

At my blog there is a picture of gishret Dalale. Since I was a teen my nickname online was Dalale because I liked the Assyrian song about the girl who held the bridge together for her nation. Hope you will all remember me and continue to read my writing and be interested with the new ideas on my blog.

My site: www.assyrianthinker.weebly.com

My recent blog post: http://assyrianthinker.weebly.com/an-assyrian-thinker-blog

New blog post: http://assyrianthinker.weebly.com/an-assyrian-thinker-blog

 

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Hear Our Strangled Voices!

Assyrians against Isis

By Abbey Mikha

Assyrians need the help of anyone who cares about innocent human beings as Christians and most importantly as Assyrians. Assyrians are on the verge of extinction off of the face of this Earth! Our population used to be in the millions in Iraq and Syria and now there are only a few hundred thousand people left because of all the killings, rapping, and destroying. Our people are being murdered in Iraq and Syria and they are suffering so very much. What is happening to them is unbelievable! In the year 2016 there is a Genocide being committed against the Assyrian people and yes even if they call themselves by other names such as Chaldean or Suryoyo, they are true descendants of the Assyrians and people of ancient Assyria.

As Canadians, Americans, Europeans, Asians, Africans, Natives, and any other ethnic people of the world please open your hearts to the Assyrians. Please help the families, the children, girls and boys, and our friends who have no one to turn to except us and you. Help them first by finding out more about them. Read about what ISIS has done to our homeland and our people. All of this is happening to the Assyrians and the world media barely gives any attention to the issue because we are not a powerful nation and our people are scattered all over the world and their voices are not being heard by anyone.

You have to know something about Assyrians. Assyrian Christians are a very peaceful people. They strive only for family life, education, and working very hard. They are humble people who are only looking for the hope of living a normal life. There isn’t an Assyrian family who does not strive for their sons and daughters to be teachers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, or at least very good human beings who would never even think of hurting anyone.

Assyrian Christians are at the end of their rope. They need your voice. They need your help. They need your compassion. Please whoever you are wherever you are from help the Assyrian Christians! Help us be able to survive in countries like Iraq and Syria where humanitarianism is a thousand mile walking journey. Help us be able to have a voice in our homeland. Stand up for us. When we are strong and something happens in your country we will also stand up for you as we are a people who never forget other peoples kindness.

Read about the Assyrians. Find out about us. Read about what is happening in Iraq and Syria. Isn’t it amazing that there are individuals in the world called Assyrians who have survived upon the earth since ancient times! But, please do not take too long to look into our issue as our people in the homeland have been shouting for help for years and months now and not many people have been willing or kind enough to listen to them.  Their voices have been strangled!  Give us a chance. Our children deserve to live. Spread the message about the suffering of the Assyrians and we shall rise up against this threat and survive and thrive into the future. Just believe in us as a people and as a nation and believe in the compassion and sympathy in our hearts for every living being, compared to the ugliness and darkness of the hearts of those who are oppressing us such us the Islamic terrorist group called ISIS and others who want to throw us out of our own ancestral homeland!

Please share this post so that we can spread this plea from Abbey to spread the message about the suffering of the Assyrians which must come to an end as soon as possible! Thank you and may God bless you.

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Assyrian Voice interview with Steve Netniss, an Assyrian technologist, professor and author of recently published ‘POTENTIAL: The Assyrian Quest for Identity: What does it mean to be an Assyrian from a Christian perspective?‘ book

Assyrian Voice interview with Steve Netniss, an Assyrian technologist, professor and author of recently publishedPOTENTIAL: The Assyrian Quest for Identity: What does it mean to be an Assyrian from a Christian perspective?  book

 

Personal questions:

Assyrian Voice interview with Steve Netniss, an Assyrian technologist, professor and author of recently published 'POTENTIAL: The Assyrian Quest for Identity: What does it mean to be an Assyrian from a Christian perspective?' book

Assyrian Voice interview with Steve Netniss, an Assyrian technologist, professor and author of recently published ‘POTENTIAL: The Assyrian Quest for Identity: What does it mean to be an Assyrian from a Christian perspective?’ book

-Welcome and thanks for taking the time to do this interview with AssyrianVoice.net.

– Can you please introduce yourself and a bit about your background (Including your Assyrian roots)

Shlama Assyrian Voice, thank you for this special opportunity to introduce myself and tell you about my book. I was born and raised in Turlock, California, the heart of the Central Valley. Turlock was one of the first place Assyrians settled over 100 years ago. I spent 7 years in Dallas, Texas. Recently, I moved to California and currently live in Oakland (30 minutes from San Francisco).

-What do you do for living? What about your education?

I am currently a Technology Integrator at an independent school in the Bay Area. I am also an adjunct professor at California State University Stanislaus where I teach a Management Information Systems course. I have an undergraduate degree in Computer Information Systems from California State University Stanislaus and a Master’s in Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary.

-In your biography, you mention that you are both a preacher and a tech enthusiasts. Tell us a bit more about that? How did you start with each?

Growing up in an Assyrian home, we were raised to acquire skills that would allow us to be contributors to society’s basic needs. Thankfully, I found one of my passions in technology. Later, I realized that I had an interest in theological studies. I have found great success in both fields and have a deep love and appreciation for both.

-What places have you lived in so far and what has been your favorite?

Raised in Turlock – great place to grow up and I still have deep roots there.

Dallas – I enjoyed my time in Texas.

Oakland – The East Bay has its strengths.

 

Book: 

-You recently published your own book, can you tell us a bit more on it? What is the book all about and what inspired you to write it?

I believe there are many aspects of our Assyrian culture that are healthy and strong but there are also some areas that need refining and questioning. I wrote my book to help the Assyrian community mature even further. I believe the Assyrian identity is strong enough to handle some of the questions I have raised.

-Your book is still relatively new but has already received a lot of good feedback on Amazon: how do you plan to keep the momentum going, and hopefully translating into bigger sales?

I am trusting that the book will have legs of its own. I wrote the book to help with an issue in society. I believe the book will continue to be helpful until we have reached a level of new awareness. At that point, I’ll have published my second book.

-Is there something specific that you want people to take from reading your book?

Mainly, I want to encourage those who feel like they weren’t growing or didn’t have a clear direction to head in. This book will inspire, encourage, and challenge anyone who reads it.

-How long did it take you and how has the reception been? Has there been any critical or negative reviews?

I spent over 5 years working on this book. So far the Assyrian community has been entirely supportive. I am still working with different organizations to host future book signings. The churches have also been super supportive.

-Do you believe that if Assyrians were to read your book in droves, it could mean a brighter future for our nation?

Assyrians, religious or not, should read this book if they want to help enhance the Assyrian community. The people who have read it so far seem to have really been blessed by it.

-Why should a non-Assyrian read this book? What is in it for others?

It’s important for all of us to learn about other cultures. We should not be stuck in our own world and miss what others have to offer. This book helps non-Assyrians to learn more about Assyrians.

 

General:

-What is the future of Christianity in the US? Is it on a decline and do you see a revival?

I think Christianity is only alive when it is morphing, changing, and adjusting to what God is doing in the world. Christianity has constants but it is not a museum. It is important for Christian ministers of all denominations to be asking questions the people are asking.

-Ever been to Canada? Or other countries? Do you have a favorite city or country you visited?

New Orleans, Louisiana is one of my favorite places to visit. I would like to visit Canada in the near future.

-What are your top 3 websites they you like to follow on a regular basis? 

http://mikemchargue.com/

http://www.robbell.com

-what are some of your favorite movies and books?

Star Wars, Ben Hur, The Old Man and the Sea.

-For those who are still in high school, what area of IT or computer science should they focus on, for a shot at a better career in the future?

It is important to know how to program but it is also important to learn how to work with others. Often, people who are really good at programming have a difficult time communicating with others. It’s important to be able to do both. Programming skills and people skills.

-If you could time travel, what period in history would you like to go to?

I’d love to check out the Ancient Near East in the 1st century. Pretty hectic place.

 

Assyrian:

-Are you up to date with Assyrian developments in Iraq and Syria?

I am constantly following different news outlets and key individuals to try and learn more about the situation.

-What is the future of Assyrians in Iraq? Do you are you optimistic or do you see a Middle East that is empty of Assyrians and Christians in general?

Interestingly, I think that question is directly tied to the future of Assyrians in the West. In other words, if Assyrians in the West do not figure out a way to galvanize and become a unified front, then how will our people in the homeland unify? We are the ones who left the Middle East to create a better life. Unfortunately, that ‘better life’ has led to several religious, and political factions that do not seem to be serving or encouraging one another. This is a serious problem and it must be resolved. If we can work together then we can create a better future for everyone involved.

-What will it take to reverse the immigration tide to ensure more Assyrians stay home 

Assyrians who have become financially success should really consider and think about ways to reinvest in the homeland. It might actually pay huge dividends 10-20-30 years from now. People will stay in the Middle East when the societal structure is conducive to a healthy future where people can reach their human potential.

-How do you see the role of the Assyrian church in keeping our culture and language alive?

This is a difficult question and I think I’ve spoken at length about this in my new book. I would start there.

-Being someone who has written a book about this very topic, how can we ensure that our Christian belief is in sync with our Assyrian nationalism and vise versa. Do you think the two go hand in hand? Or does one prevent the other from being fully realized?  

This is a great question and again it is what my entire book revolves around. I think there are healthy answers and discussions.

-Do you believe Chaldeans and Syriacs are part of our nation (regardless of what they believe in) and that we should make every effort to unite with them?

YES, YES, YES. I think we need to stop asking the questions our parents asked ‘who’s Assyrian and who isn’t’ and start asking bigger and more important questions. “How do we unify?”

-Ever been to an Assyrian convention and what was it like?

I’ve been to several Assyrian conventions. It always seems like the location plays a large role. I’m a sucker for San Diego so that was one of my favourites. I do think we need to seriously consider hosting a convention in Texas.

-How do we ensure that the Assyrian language survives with the generation growing up in the west, where the first language at work and school is English?

I have a lot to say about this in my book. I would start there…

-Where you live and have worked recently, how do you see the state of Assyrian academia? are more Assyrian pursuing higher education and advanced degrees? if not, how can we encourage more to go for it?

Assyrians in the United States are VERY well educated. I don’t think we give the Assyrian people enough credit for all of our amazing accomplishments.

-If there is something you would like to say to all Assyrians out there , what would it be? 

I think it is important to be proud of being Assyrian but that should be matched with an eagerness to learn more about what it means to be an Assyrian. Often, Assyrians are tied to one way of understanding our own Assyrian ethnicity. If the Assyrian nation is going to grow, then it needs to begin thinking deeper.

Favorites

-Google or Apple

Both

-California or Texas?

Depends on the time of year.

-liberal or conservative?

Depends on the topic.

-Preaching or teaching? Preaching is a lost art and it needs to be reclaimed. What do people thin when you say the word ‘sermon’? Usually, it’s ‘boring, dull, agenda, political.’ Instead, I wish people thought, ‘inspiring, intellectual, thoughtful, subversive.’

-Football or baseball? Football!! WHO DAT

-Paris or New York? Paris. New York is great but Paris speaks to my soul.

-Favorite food? Nothing beats my moms Assyrian home cooking!

-Favorite TV show: Breaking Bad, Dexter, Mad Men, Orphan Black, Game of Thrones…the list keeps growing.

-Favorite NHL/NFL/MLB/NBA teams?NFL: New Orleans Saints, NBA: Boston Celtics, MLB: San Francisco Giants

 

Final thoughts

-Who is one Assyrian celebrity or person you would like us to interview in the future and what question should we ask them?

I think it would be great if some of our Assyrian religious leaders were interviewed and if they were asked some of the questions many of us wonder about. Practical questions that sceptics think about. Ideally, it would be great for the Assyrian community to setup a panel of speakers from all the different Assyrian religious traditions, ACOE, Protestant, Chaldean and so on.

-Someone is going through tough financial and social hardships and wants your guidance to help him through this difficult time: what biblical lessons would you give them?

I would probably stay away from biblical lessons and focus on more practical or immediate needs. The Bible is a great compendium of books but I don’t view it as a manual for life. Instead, we are led to make healthy choices through the reading and meditation on Scriptures that is in community with others and driven by the Holy Spirit. People often try to apply the Bible to real life situations and end up creating a standard that just doesn’t jive with the Spirit of the Scriptures.

-What is the last thing you want to do before your time on earth is up?

I’d like to preach a sermon that inspires churches to connect at a deeper level.

-Do you have one big regret from the past?

I am still bummed about when the Saints kept blitzing the 49ers on the last drive of a playoff game. It made no sense and to this day I regret not running out on the field to stop the madness.

-If we were to meet again in 50 years from now, what do you hope to have done or accomplished?

I hope that 50 years from now I have a brand new heart and a wrinkled face. That’s a line from one of my favorite songs.
Thank you for your time Steve and good luck on your new book and all your future endeavors and career in general.

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It Is Time For the Assyrians to be Truly United With One Strong Voice

 AbbeyAssyrian

By: Abbey Mikha

Dear God protect my suffering Assyrian nation.  The young, women, men, elderly, and disabled and those suffering from mental illness.  I know its difficult to believe in God sometimes when we see our nation in such a situation, but this is when we must be strong in our faith, and realize that we need to be truly united as Assyrians with one strong voice.

There is no superpower on earth willing to help us thus far, but perhaps the Superpowers of the Universe will help us?! Dear Jesus use your powers to help your nation.  Dear Melchizedek I read once that you are at a high level in the hierarchy of heaven, so help us.  Dear Inanna or Ishtar as we call you, you have always loved the Assyrian nation, so will you love us again and help us?!  I always believed that heaven was much more powerful than even any atomic bombs on earth.  So, let it be so.  Let us witness your love and power.

Our people are dying, they have been abducted and God only knows what they are going through in this moment and what evil place they have been taken to.  Our artifacts have been destroyed in the museum of Nineveh and looted and sold in the black market by the international mafia.  The jewel of ancient civilizations, the city of Nimrud has been destroyed. Today more villages in Syria have been attacked by ISIS and our men are fighting them off with riffles and limited ammunition.  I’m afraid to ask what is next.  Why wont anyone help the Assyrians defeat this evil group of people?  Who are the powerful individuals planning for this to happen to the Assyrian nation and why?  We are being attacked by many, but we will resist and we will never give up.

 I just wish that we could say the powerful words which Queen Zenubia declared to a Roman general once, “You may have the civilization of power, but we have the power of civilization.” Help us that “power of civilization” and I say it again make us be united as one strong voice so that we can rebuild ourselves, our nation, and our Assyria.  Our spirit has been shaken for we are good sensitive humanitarian people and we are worried about the future of our nation, and of the future of humanity on earth, but until our last breath we will write about and defend our suffering nation.

The Assyrians have been massacred from 1915 until 2015.  That is a hundred years of massacre, murder, and GENOCIDE.  We may ask from heaven to help us, but we also ask, “When will the world rise up and defend the Assyrians?”  This may be your last chance.  Are we not humans, are we not people, or do you actually think still that we are not part of the chosen people?  Well I’m here to tell you there are no chosen people.  Every individual good person from any nation is chosen.  We are chosen to live too.  We want to live and we do not want to die anymore.  Let us all rise up together and end the suffering of the Assyrians one of the ancient Christian peoples of the world.

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The Ancient City of Nimrud Always In Our Hearts

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By: Abbey Mikha

I have been surprised by many things in my life.  I have been outraged by things which have been occurring in the past weeks in our homeland.  As I heard the news today in regards to the ancient city of Nimrud, I was questioning society and why the world is standing by idle and watching silently as this ancient city is being destroyed by ISIS terrorists?!

If Nimrud were Jericho or some other significant place for westerners, we would be hearing a whole other story unfold in American and Canadian news outlets.  There was a program on television last week.  It was supposed to be funny. Anyway, the people of the program said, “Isis is destroying artifacts in Iraq” then they said, “but what color is that dress?”  Referring to the dress that has been on the news all week.  People are wondering is the dress black and blue or gold and white.  Is this what people in America and Canada really care about?  Are they that brainwashed by the media?

The ancient city of Nimrud is a jewel of the ancient world. Everyone should be devastated at the destruction of this great ancient city.  They should be outraged.  It doesn’t matter who you are. Any god which is against the ancient people of the world is no god at all. Any god who encourages the destruction of ancient artifacts whether Lamassu or Buddha  deserves to be destroyed himself for he definitely does not exist, only in the minds of the true infidels which is ISIS and the other extremist gangs…

If the world were able to squeeze out oil from these ancient artifacts surely they would be receiving much more attention, but everyone believes these artifacts to be lifeless rubble.  What everyone doesn’t know is that the sacred Assyrian spirit resides in every wall and artifact which is supposed to be home, in its own homeland, and is today being destroyed by godless people who do not belong in this country or anywhere else.

The city of Nimrud will always live in the hearts of Assyrians and belong to the Assyrians.  This is written in the stars, just like the three pyramids of Egypt are a perfect reproduction of the three stars of Orion’s belt.  Today its the destruction of ancient Nimrud.  What is next ISIS, the pyramids in Giza?

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Not for the Assyrians Mr. Walsch

17887_10153041339715851_6624592021715608757_nBy Abbey Mikha

Today my favorite author Neale Donald Walsch, who wrote “Conversations with God” posted a thought-provoking message on his Facebook page. He said, “Nothing is as bad as it seems. Nothing. There is a benefit and a blessing hidden in the folds of every experience and every outcome. That includes every and any ‘bad’ thing that may be happening to you right now. Change your perspective. Know that nothing happens ever that is not for your highest good.  All that needs to change for you to see this…is your definition of ‘Highest Good.’” I know that Mr. Walsch’s message was intended to be positive but it made me teary and questioning “logic”.  As Assyrians today his thoughts are not our reality. This is the reality of elite human beings who have countries, rights, and are allowed to dream. The Assyrians are not being afforded any privileges in their ancestral homeland. To say the least the Assyrians are being treated inhumanely in Syria today.  Assyrian teenagers protecting their families are dying in combat in Khabour at the hands of ISIS.

So, I had to respond to Mr. Walsch and let him know about our desperate situation. I said, “I believe this to be true but not for everyone Neale. My people (The Assyrians) are today facing Genocide at the hands of ISIS in Khabour, Syria. Thousands have escaped from their homes, hundreds have been kidnapped (children, women, and men) and we are afraid that we will hear of brutal murder like was done to the 21 Coptic Christian men a few weeks ago. My highest good Neale? We are commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the Assyrian Genocide of 1915 at the hands of Kurds and Turks. Today it’s ISIS! The people who are under attack in Syria today are the grandchildren of those Assyrians who escaped the Semele Massacre of 1933 which was committed by the Iraqi army of those days. Please, for those of you fair minded spiritual people. Make your voices heard about this new Genocide which started in Mosul (Nineveh) Iraq a few months ago and now has moved to Khabour, Syria. They want to wipe out the Assyrians! Our little Christian nation needs good people like all of you to stand up and express your disgust and outrage at what is happening, for you stand for humanitarianism and for everything that is good in this survival of the fittest world…”

There are hundreds of thousands of people who read on this page on Facebook, so I hope my emotional appeal will work and many people from various cultures will raise their voices on behalf of the Assyrian people. I also post similar messages on the White House website on Facebook. I feel really helpless and sad about our people’s situation and I don’t know what to do. My only power is in writing how I feel about the situation, but is that enough? The answer of course is that no it’s not enough. Nothing we can do is enough and we must always do more! We must band together to stop this Genocide from going further!

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How can the stories of a Pizza delivery driver and a factory worker inspire Assyrians to do more?

By: Ashur Sada

James Robertson is a factory worker in Troy, Michigan.

Assyrians should be more active and generous in donating money to help their people

Assyrians should be more active and generous in donating money to help their people

Jarrid Tansey is a pizza delivery driver in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts.

For those of you who haven’t heard of them-assuming the majority of you-and what is common between the two, let me give a brief background.

Both of these two men were the subjects of online fund raisers by complete strangers. For the former, his story was very inspiring and got a student to start an online fund to collect money to pay for a car, so he doesn’t have to walk some 20+ miles to get to and from work. For the latter, he was the subject of what amounted to being bullied on the job by a customer, and this in turn received some strong reactions from the online public and lots of sympathies and donations.

In both cases, the original goal for the fund was not only reached but completely shattered. For Mr. Robertson, the original goal was $5,000 which was broken in a matter of hours. It was then raised to $25,000, which was also reached in less than 24 hours. By the 11th day, an astonishing $350K was raised for him! Mr. Tansey may not have been as lucky, but he too got close to $30,000 in donations from complete strangers online.

 

Online funding for Assyrian causes

So what, if anything, can these two stories teach us as Assyrians? they are great examples of what online funding can do for people and causes. What if we attempted the same thing with Assyrians? say we launched an online funding campaign to do one of the following:

-Help an Assyrian family in need
-Donate to arm an Assyrian defense force in Iraq or Syria
-Give money to help build an Assyrian church in a certain city
-Donate to help build an Assyrian library
-Give money to help Assyrian students make a trip of a lifetime to their homeland

One such online fund-raiser was already done. It was a fund-raiser for Assyrian activist Suzy Younan to help her travel to Iraq to provide humanitarian relief for Assyrians displaced from the Nineveh Plain by the recent ISIS onslaught. So what were the results? While encouraging, you would think such a noble cause would have generated a lot more money or at least met the goal of $25,000. The end result was $13,290! That is $11,710 short of the goal set. But Suzy and her travel companions made the best of these donations and helped as many people as they can.

But it is so much more than just the money. It is about sending a message of support, unity and sympathy. If so much money can be raised for two individuals, by complete strangers, why can’t we raise a lot more money for more urgent needs and much nobler causes? If the plight of Assyrians living in tens, in extreme weather conditions doesn’t get us to open our wallets, what will?

In the past, we have come across so many different Assyrian fund-raisers and for different causes and rarely did I see one that matched or exceeded its goal, no matter what the objective was.  Whether it is a trust issue or one of laziness and lacking of generosity, we just don’t do enough to help those in need.

Assyrian Aid Society and ACERO are the two most established and credible Assyrian charities out there. I trust them with my life, never mind my money.  The two have achieved some success in convincing Assyrians to open their wallets to those in needs. They have done a great job of matching donors’ money with those who need it the most. But even they (ACERO and AAS) can do a lot better, if more people become more generous and comfortable with donating their money, especially online.

Despite all of this, the responsibility actually starts with the fund-raiser organizers first, rather than the donors. If the organizers (i.e those who run AAS, ACERO etc.) do a good job of explaining where the money is going, publishing regular reports, posting their accounting online, people will be a lot more trusting and give more of their money. If you go to the two organizations’ respective websites, you will find that both do an excellent job of being accountable with the money they collect from donors. Moreover, their own directors and founders are often on the ground, helping with the relief effort themselves.

Unlike other ethnic groups who may have richer groups and nations behind them, Assyrians only have themselves to support their own. The responsibility and stakes are higher. We simply can’t run away from it and hope that someone else will donate. The ‘by-stander effect’ doesn’t apply here! Each has to do their work. When you go to church on Sunday morning, you don’t tell yourself “I won’t put anything in the basket today, other people are doing that already.”  Why would you treat Assyrian charity any differently? You can donate once or you set a reminder in your calendar to donate multiple times a year. For example, if you believe in ACERO and AAS, you can set a reminder in your smartphone to donate to each one every other month. For example, on January, you donate to AAS, on February you donate to ACERO and so on. If each or most of us did this, the two organizations would have more than enough money to help almost every Assyrian in need.

And when all else fails, put yourself in someone else’s shoes: image you are one of thousands of people who used to live in Mosul or the Nineveh Plain, and were driven out from there by ISIS and have lost your home and all that you built in your lifetime. You are now living in dirty tents under such extreme wintery conditions. Your kids don’t even have a proper blanket to cover themselves, let alone a proper bed to sleep in or a good meal to enjoy. Would you not want people to donate and help you get out of this misery? I am sure you would! Count your lucky stars. You are not living this miserable life. You are sitting comfortably in your home and your kids are well-fed and taken care of. The least you can do is to help these needy Assyrians by making a donation.

Next time you come across an Assyrian fund for a noble cause, don’t hesitate to reach for your wallet or credit card and donate. It will help someone who is in extreme hardship. People did it a pizza delivery driver and a factory worker, whose condition was not nearly as bad as what our Assyrian people are enduring.

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5 health and social benefits of Assyrian dance (Khiga)

By: Ashur Sada

 

Ever noticed that a lot of the good Assyrian dancers are often slim and in good shape? is that a coincidence? could be, but it could

Assyrian dancing (Khiga) has a lot of social and health benefits

Assyrian dancing (Khiga) has a lot of social and health benefits

also be that dancing helps them stay in shape.

If a scientific study was done on Assyrian dance (khiga) they would find so many health and social benefits. Let us go through some of them:

1-Get to see everyone dancing: when dancing, you will go through everyone else that is dancing, at least once. This is an easy and quick way to see people, without having to stop and chat to them.

2-See new people: related to the earlier point about seeing people you know, Assyrian dance, given its mobile nature, is great for people watching. It lets you see new people, new styles, new ways of dancing etc. You are observing others and seeing new things and faces.

3-Great exercise: when it comes to Assyrian weddings, most are held at big banquet halls. If you look at the size of an average hall, it is almost as big and wide as half a football field. Even one or two laps of dancing around the hall will help you burn so many calories and give you a much needed workout. All while having fun. And for those that dance a lot during the night, you can burn most or all the calories you just gained from eating at the wedding.

4-Music becomes more fun: ever noticed, music is more fun and enjoyable when you dance to it than just listening? and as the beat goes, so goes your body, and that all makes the experience that much more fun.

5-Great mind and body booster: dancing in general helps boost the mind and body. It is an exercise after all, and exercising is always good for the mind and body. In the specific case of Assyrian dancing, where there is a lot of mileage, you get to exercise your stress out and sweat your calories away. That all translates into feeling better about yourself and having  a sharper mind. Anecdotally, I have observed that my friends, shortly after finishing a round of Assyrian dancing, come up with some nice things to talk about and usually sound more confident and open-minded. That, my friend, is the effect of Assyrian dancing.

As you can see, Assyrian dancing is more than just going in circles. It has a whole range of social and health benefits. And I didn’t even get into the cultural aspect of Assyrian dancing and how significant it is in that regard as well.  So the next time you are at an Assyrian wedding or party, remember, traditional Assyrian dancing (be it Khiga, Khiga yaqoora, Sheykhani, Belati, Saskani, Toulama etc.) has a lot of benefits beyond the obvious ones. Needless to say, it will improve your health, boost your confidence and connect you better with people around you.

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Why did the chaldean parties fail miserably again at the recent Iraqi elections?

Parliamentary elections were held in Iraq on 30 April 2014 to select the 328 members of the Council of Representatives.  assyrian chaldean in iraqi elections failureThese in turn will elect the Iraqi President and Prime Minister.

Our Assyrian Chaldean Syriac politicians and parties were also very active in this election, vying for the 5 seats allocated for the ‘Christian quota’.  There was a total of 9 lists representing our people in Iraq and these were:

298: Sons of Mesopotamia
299: Al-Warkaa Democratic List
300: Al-Rafidain List (Zowaa)
301: Bet Nahrain National Coalition
302:  Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Popular Council (KRG affiliated)
303: Babylon List
304: Souraya National Coalition
305: Ur National List
306: Shlama Entity

 

Of those, lists number 303 and 305 had relatively or majority chaldean representatives and were heavy on promises for reviving chaldean politics and aspirations.  Problem is, many or most were based on empty rhetoric, one that serves no one but the candidates themselves in most cases.  Moreover,  most of their platforms was heavy on anti-Assyrian agendas, as if Assyrians are the one and only problem facing our chaldean brothers in Iraq and outside of Iraq.

This brings us to the following question: why do chaldean politicians and platforms keep failing in winning in Iraqi elections? to be clear, it is not necessarily about the candidate being a chaldean. It is about their platform and its separatist aspirations.  After decades of useless divisions, our people are tired of these divisions and are making it clear at the ballot box. We want unity and not someone who makes false claims and empty promises about ‘restoring Babylon to its former glory’. By all means, if you can do that, go ahead, liberate Babylon and reestablish it again. Last time I checked, Babylon is inhabited by Arab Muslims and has virtually no Christians living there.  Our true home is in Nineveh, more specifically the ‘Nineveh Plain’, where the majority of Assyrians now live and happens to be where the former great Assyrian empire once stood.  That is where we should focus our attention, hopefully getting our own province there, and not on a false promise to ‘bring back Babylon’!

Our politicians, like most have been doing in the last few years, should instead focus their energy on unity. Nothing else matters in this day in age. With unity, we can do a lot.

To these chaldean politicians who keep lying to the people and screaming their lungs out about serving the chaldean people and their political aspirations, just do yourself and your people a favor and stop it. This is not what people want anymore, even if those close to you-cousins and friends-tell you otherwise.

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Inspiring the Spirits of Children to Love Education

By Abbey Mikha  

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all who read at Assyrian Voice!  I want to share with you an essay I wrote a while back for school.  What kind of teachers inspired you in your life?  Do you remember your teachers?  Did you have a teacher who never paid any attention to you?  Did you also have some great teachers that you will never forget?  Have you ever had an Assyrian teacher?  What kind of teachers made an impact on your education and your life?  The following is my Teaching Philosophy if I was to become a teacher. 

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your comments.  Let me know what you think about this article.  Best wishes.  Hope life is treating you all kindly. 

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Becoming a teacher has always been my dream.  I have been working diligently towards this dream that some said I would not be able to accomplish.  The main reason I want to be a teacher is that I always wanted to positively influence the next generation.  When thinking about where I could do the most good in the world I always knew teaching would be the right path.  My teaching philosophy is that teachers are there to help students improve their abilities and to inspire their spirits to love education.  Students will always do better when a teacher is there to guide them through the obstacles.  When a student has difficulty with schoolwork whether it involves numbers, letters, or eventually the more complicated things, the wise teacher will help them work through these struggles.  She knows that helping all her students not fall behind will increase their confidence for the entire grade and into the next grade.  This will be a stepping-stone towards the rest of their educational careers.  In this teaching philosophy Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development theory will be defined, my opinion in regards to it being a good model for learning will be developed through various examples from the past, present, and future.  A teacher is one of our first adult friends in life.  If I was to become a teacher I would want to encourage my students from a young age creating for them a creative and pleasant environment whereby friendships can be built.

Supporting our Children

The zone of proximal development is important part of my teaching philosophy.  It has been defined as, “The distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers” (Vygotsky, 1978, p86).  Vygotsky especially believed that a child’s early understanding came from the support that they were given by interacting with knowledgeable adults. Such support allows a child to function outside regular independent abilities. When a child is given such support they are then able to make further development.  This approach suggests that teaching should emphasize activities within this zone, since it is here that learning growth is occurring (Martyn, 2000, p. 35).

The Model of Proximal Development a Good one for Learning

I believe that the model of proximal development is a good one for learning and must be part of my teaching philosophy because it is fundamental to my beliefs of what it means to be a good teacher.  Students have natural ability, but do better when a teacher guides them through a task that they find difficult.  A child is lead by the teacher and eventually develops the ability to complete certain tasks without help.  What children can accomplish independently and what they can complete with adult assistance is this zone of proximal development.  Young children cannot complete tasks without guidance.  Over time children may be able to complete complex tasks with just a bit of help.  Concentrating on education, zone of proximal development is a very useful reminder to educators that through their help students can expand their knowledge to reach many more educational goals.

Teaching Styles and Foreign Students

My ideas about teaching styles is that various people have different approaches, but as long as teachers are sensitive to their students, are always encouraging them, and willing to help, then all will be well.  I attended school in Lebanon, Germany, and Canada.  I was lucky to be able to witness different teaching styles and philosophies from various countries and I experienced how the zone of proximal development works.

In Lebanon even in kindergarten the nuns began seriously teaching us and it was a strict environment.  The nuns spoke to us and taught us in Arabic and French.  This experience showed me that children could be taught from a young age to pay attention and to follow instructions.  The nuns were very supportive and they made sure to help all of the students who were having difficulties with learning the alphabet and numbers.  If a child was behind one nun was assigned to work with that child until they caught up.  This is exactly what the zone of proximal development proposes because through guidance most children will develop in their learning.  It may take some children longer than others but they can all eventually reach similar levels of understanding if a knowledgeable teacher helps them.

In Germany I had the same teacher from grade one to four in the small town of Hostenbach.  She was kind and also had her own style.  She taught us on all subject matters but she took special time for encouraging our creativity through Music and Art.  She organized a choir for us and taught us songs like “Shalom Chaverim” which is a Hebrew melody that has historical meaning for the Jewish people.  Although I am Assyrian this song stayed in my mind for the rest of my life, especially when learning about its significance.  I always felt good singing this song because I felt like the Hebrew language was close to my Assyrian language, which I could understand pretty well at that time.

Also in Germany, at Christmas time we used to make various types of paper angels and paint pictures of Santa Clause.  My German teacher also created an area in the classroom with a really comfortable sectional sofa and it was designated just for reading.  This really made the students feel comfortable and at home and I liked that about our classroom.  What I learned from the experiences from this class was that music and art are very memorable for children and can influence their feelings in regards to school a great deal.  This teacher also made sure that her students were always caught up.  I remember being in her class and when learning to subtract in grade one I continued to do addition.  I guess I did not want to subtract.  She explained to me the difference and I was subtracting fine after.  This all has to do with zone of proximal development because it was through her help and through her taking time to explain to me about subtraction that I learned and progressed.

In grade four my teacher also organized our communion.  This was always a very good memory for me.  I was the only foreigner amongst my German friends.  My teacher had me standing at the front center bench in the church.  I always wondered why she did that since I was one of the more taller girls.  I guess she wanted me to feel like I was also a special part of the ceremony.  I thank her still for that special feeling she gave me.  It is a day I will never forget.  It must have been 1989.  The following picture is from that day in Hostenbach.

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In Canada I had the bulk of my education.  My grade five teacher gave me the nickname Abbey because she could not pronounce my real name 3abeer.  I liked that she did that because my name is difficult to pronounce in English and it would have given me a difficult time in school.  It is nice of teachers to help foreign students like me who are Assyrian and new to the country especially when they are really young.  Some students come from poor troubled countries; others have never attended a formal school.  I would also keep all of this in mind and heart if I were to become a teacher.  Making such students feel included and like they belong is very important, since many times these students have come from foreign countries, which were in very difficult situations like war.

My Canadian teacher taught us various subjects like English, Math, and Science, but we also had special classes in French and Italian.  She also tried to help us learn by playing leader games.  She would tell us a story and in groups of three we had to continue it and try to collaboratively develop it unto a final conclusion to show which one of us was the most flexible person and leader in the game.  This was another approach to learning and also had to do with zone of proximal development since she helped us in the beginning by introducing the story but let us continue the main part and then conclude it.

Inclusion in the Classroom

I believe that zone of proximal development can also be used to teach students with disabilities, and if I was given the choice I would prefer an inclusive environment in my classroom if I were to become a teacher, whereby children who are called disabled, gifted, down syndrome, learning disabled, and average could all learn together.  Inclusive education believes that students can all discover together in a supportive community.  The individuals may have various learning needs and rates of learning but they will still be appreciated, acknowledged, and inspired to be the best that they can be.  Within an inclusive environment children will learn that other children may be different but they are still special and deserve respect.  Although zone of proximal development may be reduced for students with disabilities depending on their abilities there is still always that room for improvement and growth no matter how minute.

Poetry, Songs, and Creating Books

If I were to teach I would read poetry and sing songs with my students.  I would encourage them to care about the environment by introducing them to books about the earth.  I would also introduce them to subjects like Ancient History and Astronomy.  I would concentrate on important subjects but also make time for creative subjects like Art and Music. I would also create books for my students.  Doing projects like a book with each class a year would be very fun and educational.  It will make students feel like they accomplished something as a group and create a good memory for them that they could keep forever.  This has to do with zone of proximal development because through this collaborative effort the children and I will have created a story collectively, which reflects what we learned and found meaningful that year in class.

Concluding Thoughts

Teachers have the ability to influence their students and can help tremendously by working patiently on tasks that the students find challenging.  A teacher must give their students confidence that they will be able to complete more difficult tasks by being persistent.  By giving them these tools to complete such tasks they give them the key to the future and the door to their learned self-masterpieces.

Learning about the zone of proximal development can help all teachers and this should be encouraged since it is such an effective theory.  Inclusion is important to me and if I had the choice I would allow for an inclusive classroom whereby children with various abilities would be allowed to participate in regular classes.

Support is always beneficial for students.   All students can develop their abilities and talents with some guidance on their teachers part and effort on their part.  If I were to become a teacher I would also try to acquire parents help and involvement in the education of their children especially for those of children who are struggling.  This would make a big difference.

Vygotsky was correct in that there is a level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers.  What a wonderful thing it is to know that science agrees with the fact that teachers can help students and will improve their abilities more than what was ever possible for that individual on their own.  We should never leave any student behind because this can affect their confidence for the rest of their life.  Every child deserves to be educated and helped as much as any other child.

I remember the names and teaching approaches of all the teachers who have influenced my learning positively.  I hope that even if I were to become a grade one teacher I would be the kind of teacher that my students remember as always helping them through their educational struggles and never leaving them behind.*  If I got the chance to be a teacher my goal would be to have the kind of class environment that my students reminisce about in the future.  It would be a joy for me if they wrote letters to let me know how they are doing in their life, what career paths they have chosen, and how being in the classroom of an Assyrian teacher inspired their spirit to love education.

 

Works Cited

 Long, Martyn. (2000). Psychology of Education, The. Taylor & Francis. Retrieved 12 October 2012, from <http://lib.myilibrary.com?ID=40425>

McLeod, Saul (2012), Zone of Proximal Development.  Retrieved 15 November 2012, from <http://www.simplypsychology.org/Zone-of-Proximal-Development.html>

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