Convention Overview

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Posted by Jeff from ( on Tuesday, September 03, 2002 at 11:38AM :

So, my first convention... let's see if I can sum up my thoughts about it into one giant run-on sentence... or at least a poorly written post.

The seminars that Stella and I went to were interesting... most notably the one on Assyrian Identity (which included speakers from Sweden, Canada, and Eden Naby), and the seminar on Assyrian Women's issues. Also, there was a forum for Assyrian youth and a VERY interesting woman named Ms. Greenberg (I forget her name) spoke. She and Stella hit it off very well. She was a very dynamic speaker. Her first activity involved stereotypes. She arrived wearing a full "Muslim" outfit (the black body covering, headdress, etc.) and ended in a fashionable outfit, blond hair, blue eyes, and all that goes along with it. She (obviously) spoke about prejudice and passing judgement... and I think that she got her point across to those that attended.

We went to the dance party on Sunday night... we were late so we only experienced an hour and a half of it before it ended.

We took several trips to Sahara, La Fendi, the 'Chaldean Market and Bakery', and to the Qashat Market... Months ago I suggested to Janey that we put together some kind of list of Chaldean-Assyrian owned Markets, Bakeries, and Restaurants, etc. so that the convention-goers could really enjoy what our local community has to offer. I put together a list of around 20-30 locations, and it was obvious that people used this, because we saw quite a few people from the convention at many of these places, and because Janey told me that her delegates drove across town and tried to go to as many places as she could. She made 500 copies of the list and it (meaning the pile of papers) was gone the first day.

But... great food, dancing, and even interesting seminars do not a successful convention make.

What made this convention successful, and this weekend one of the best I've had in quite a while, is the fact that I could meet like-minded people in an informal atmosphere... be it in the lobby in the middle of the day, or hours after the Bazaar had closed at 5 AM.

The best conversations and the most contacts made were from these informal gatherings. On Friday (or was it Saturday?) we sat in a circle in the hallway with Firas, George, Stella, Sargon, and I (and maybe one other person) until 4 AM just talking... talking about everything from religion, politics, our language, etc. etc. On Sunday we stayed up all night... we were in the Bazaar area until 7 AM (the poets Ninos Aho and Yosip bet Yosip left at around 2 or 3... but there was a small group of us still there...)

A very thoughtful 3/4 breed helped me conjugate verbs in our language until 5 AM... he was pleading for us to let him go up to sleep, but I had to finish the chart... very funny stuff.

The hotel overbooked the rooms and around 20 or more Assyrian families had to go to another hotel because their reservations were simply... gone... (the hotel sold their rooms at a higher price to white folks). There were a few fights and a few troublemakers, yes, but on the whole it was a very good atmosphere.

A very positive experience it was, and I hope to revisit this interesting atmosphere next year in Chicago.

Side Note: Unlike what I heard about the last convention (people having sex in the hallways, etc.) I would say that this one was much more under control. I think it had to do with the fact that the hotel was quite large... and there was plenty of room for crowds to gather... and not be in each other's space.

I met people from as far away as Russia, Sweden, & Florida, and as close as Toronto... very interesting indeed. If I were to make a judgment based on the crowds of people that I saw in the halls and lobby of the hotel, and then compare that to the much smaller number of people actually in the seminars, I would conclude that most people come to the convention for the very reason that I enjoyed it so much: so that they could just informally gather and talk with others like them... it's all about finding like minded people and sharing your thoughts with each other.

The picture gallery will be made soon... We took over 80 pictures.

-- Jeff
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