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The New Generation has not Failed us Completely After All
By: Ashur Sada. May. 1, 2008
 

They may go clubbing too much, they may drop high school, and they may not know the difference between ‘Yima’ and ‘Baba’ but the new generation of Assyrians growing in the West, hasn’t failed us after all. Our parents and other older generations have always feared that our new young generation would be lost in the West and forget about their nation. And it looked like it was going to be that way for some time. But thanks to the internet, and the way it brings us closer and more aware of events around us, the new generation is somewhat back on the right track. It seems that they finally do care, just like our parents’ generation did, and even more sometimes. I see it on Assyrian Voice and other websites everyday, and it amazes me.


Caring about the mother tongue

One of the first signs that the new generation is starting to care, is their willingness to learn the Assyrian language. Both spoken and read. Some of them are buying books, engaging in church classes, or just buying a book online and starting to learn. It is as if all of a sudden, learning the Assyrian language is a cool thing to do, unlike in the past, when it wasn’t and only English mattered. The new generation growing up in the West seems to be more concerned about the language than they have been in the past. Again, the influence of the internet and all the peer-pressure they face, is creating a new feeling of 'inevitability' for them. They also realize that in this connected world of ours, English is no longer enough, and any language you can learn is a bonus, and why not make it the Assyrian language? and of course, language has been tied hand in hand sometimes with your feeling of nationalism and patriotism.

 

Assyrian Nationalism in the Diaspora

National feelings are also on the rise amongst the new generation. Assyrians born in America and other countries in the Diaspora are showing more and more interest in going back, and being part of the Assyrian people back home, including their April 1st parade.
You have people born in the west, who are more passionate about helping and making a change. Some would like to see, and even be part of an Assyrian army. These could just be words, and will not necessarily be translated into action, but still, the right nationalistic ideas are there. Those educated in the west are also taking the lead in bringing awareness to our plight, issues and name. They have been doing a lot of advocating to the US and other European government. Even lobbying is slowly and finally becoming a reality.
Not to mention some youth, who had no idea what it was to be Assyrian, who are now taking the lead and doing fundraisers to collect money and send it to their brothers and sisters in Iraq.


Pride in the Church

It is not just national and cultural issues that are starting to interest our new generations. The Assyrian Church of the East has its share too It seems like the new generation is very passionate about our church and to keep it alive. When the latest church issue broke out some 3 years ago, the youth on the two sides were more fanatical and engaged into the ensuing debate than their parents and grand parents. In fact, you could argue that the youth is to blame for inflating the issue and making it much larger than what it should be. It is for that very reason why Assyrian Voice took a hard decision and decided to close down the old ‘Assyrian Church’ forum discussion section. It was creating way too many divisions and further splitting our nation. Whether this passion for our church is inherited from the parents, or if it will be passed to the next generation, are things to be seen and hoped for.


It is not all perfect and bright. While there is more cultural, national and religious awareness amongst our youth, a lot of issues still exist. Some of which are getting worse. Here in Toronto for example, we have been seeing a very disturbing trend, where a lot of young Assyrian males are not continuing their education past high school; some even stopping short of getting their high school diploma. Being proud and aware of who you are is great, but is not enough if you want to make a difference. It is good for our new generation to have an interest and passion in their nation and culture, but that is not good enough. We need education and more education to reach higher places. We have also heard a lot about Assyrian youth in Fairfield, Australia being active with criminal activities and gangs, including drug dealing. Seems like all the great things being done by our generation, is being offset by a minority, who choose to take the wrong path and do all the negative things. But it is important to remember that a few bad and rotten apples will always exist, and no generation is ever perfect.

 

From One Generation to Another

The new generation has the keys to the future and success of this nation. They are the ones who will connect with the older generation and inherit what they have to pass on to them. They are also the link to the next generation that is to come after them, which could either make it or break it for our existence as Assyrians in the Diaspora. Will it be a generation that will only know ‘Assyrian’ as a word, or will they feel, speak and act like one? Our parents and older generation did their best to produce a new and vibrant generation, and the fruits are finally showing. Let us hope our new generation will do the same to the next generation, and help the Assyrian legacy be a strong one in the West, in a way that our Assyrian name and people back home is not jeopardized.
 


 

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