Posted by Jeff Atto from d14-69-99-26.try.wideopenwest.com (18.104.22.168) on Tuesday, September 02, 2003 at 2:15AM :
Being the stupid Chaldean that I am, I flew into Chicago's Midway Airport instead of O'hare. I realized this weeks before the convention, but the bastards at Southwest Airlines wouldn't refund my ticket, so I was stuck.
Stella and Nahrain (that may be spelled incorrectly) picked me up from the airport and we commenced eating "Barr-garr keeng" (which is something I haven't done in years) and sat in traffic for a very long time before arriving late to a very interesting talk.
The seminar, if you will... no, that's the wrong word... it was more like a progress report from young Assyrians around the world on their respective organizations. Aryo Make from Germany, Abrohom Stayfo from Sweden, Antoini Yalap from France, Nicholas Al-Jeloo from Australia, Sargon Neesan from Canada, and Sargon Audisho from Chicago all spoke about the different activities that young Assyrians are doing with their various student groups and youth associations. This was a very long presentation, but well worth it. I feel like the Assyrian youth in the US can learn a lot from their European sisters and brothers.
First of all, the European Assyrians don't waste their time bickering about who is "Assyrian", "Chaldean", "Suryoyo", "Oromoyo", "Ghassanoyo", etc... they just all work together regardless of tribal, village, religious, linguistic, or other differences. For example, "L'Association des Assyro-Chaldéens de France " decided when they were founded a very long time ago that a combined name would be best, and now they have strong ties to every subgroup within our community in France (which is numbered at around 16,000 people), as well as very strong ties to the French government. They do not bicker and waste time discussing Mar One and Mar Two on the road to Ghassan's house.
Similarly, the other Assyrian groups do interesting things like summer camps/retreats, plays, symposia, etc. and the list goes on. They have CULTURAL CENTERS (I'm not talking about churches)... can you believe it?? These young Assyrians had a very good understanding of our history, language, and were very articulate and respectful.
I also met many other new people, thanks to Stella and others, and saw many others from last year's convention (which was my first). Several noteworthy people include Kris Khoury (I may have spelled that wrong), the creator of assyrianconvention.com, as well as Rabel (see rabelsart.com), and the list goes on and on.
A wise man once said that the best part of an Assyrian convention is not the parties, not the seminars nor any official activities or banquets, but rather the contacts made and the conversations had when people just sit and talk in the lobbies informally. I agree!
Ninos ("Atto") Aho entertained us with his poetry after the student progress reports and I need not go into why he's one of the coolest people, ever. His poetry is inspiring and he is a valuable asset. He realizes the importance of getting young people involved...this became very obvious on Sunday night when he organized a midnight meeting between the younger crowd and Beni Atoori...but I'll write about that later.
Another interesting aspect of this year's convention was that I met several people who shared my last name. Some were from Chicago (originally from Iraq and Syria), some spelled it "Atto", others "Atou". Another person was from the Netherlands (originally from Turkey) who was also an Atto. The Atto family is a very small one, and I can't think of any other place where I would have met these people from different parts of the country and world if not at the convention... (well, maybe the Internet?)
Of course there was a party Friday night. There were plenty of jiggling shermani and other jiggling and exposed body parts... I need not write about them because you all know about this aspect of the conventions.
I'll try to write up something about Saturday, Sunday, and Monday soon....and to all a good night.
-- Jeff Atto
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