Posted by Stella from 12-248-16-41.client.attbi.com (126.96.36.199) on Friday, September 06, 2002 at 2:39PM :
To go from 4 days of being surrounded by intoxicating Assyrian-Chaldean B.O. ridden old men congregating with scantily clad pre-teens to an environment without so many Assyrians all in one place, the transition can be a little rough. Iím having convention withdrawals already.
The first day was spent at an amazing seminar on Women in the Middle East and their role in society. Doc. Katrine Michael gave a talk on her research on the roles society has imposed on women and their origins but not so much. That wasnít the great part though. The awesome part of the seminar was when a very cool chick who shall remain nameless got up and gave her two cents about the origin of the role of women today. It was so great that I forgot what she said. Something about encouraging women and the male role. Iíll try and get a quote from her. Honestly though, a sad part of the seminar was that there were hardly any women there, young or old. Most of the audience was men. It would have been nice for a bit more young women to have been there to support their issues pertaining to them. Though I do have to say that the few women who were there that made their comments were strong. These mothers who have lived in the extreme patriarchal societies like those in the Middle East managed to maintain their strength and roles as people who contribute so much to society.
Another cool seminar we went to was on Assyrians in Diaspora. Doc. Eden Naby gave a short talk on an Assyrian from Urmi (forgot his name) who lived during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and lost half his nuclear family to the 1915 genocide. Nenos Demarche, a student from Canada, spoke about the Assyrians in Canada. We missed Malpana Mammoís (I donít remember his first name! Díoh!) talk, although he did manage to sum it all up again in Western Assyrian though.
My absolute favorite daytime event was the poetry reading. Ninos Aho, Yosep Bet Yosep, Malpana Mammo and two other men recited their poetry. All the poems were great works of art that will inspire any soul to express their love for their culture, however no one does it quite like Ninos Aho. He has the voice to deliver such powerful words. When he recited his poem ďAtouraya KhataĒ with his BOOMING voice, the hairs on my arms stood straight up. Iíll try and post a transliteration and a translation of it. Get his cd!
The lady who spoke about judging and stereotypes at the youth initiative seminar was Brenda Rosenberg. Let me tell you all about this remarkable woman. She has probably done more in her 50something years on earth than 10 people have done in their lifetime. She started off as a buyer for Saks I think and then went on to have her own fashion retailing and manufacturing consulting firm. Sheís worked with many Jewish groups, self help as well as more broader community services. Her focus now is on working with interfaith groups. This woman rocked my world. Iím gonna try and see if she can speak here in Chicago on stereotypes and racism.
Jeff is absolutely right when he said itís not these seminars or the parties that made the convention experience great. It was the allnighter our little convention crew pulled just chatting and goofing around. It was the 3am chats with the Assyrian poets you most admire. It was the silly banter over dinner with people youíve been curious about meeting and with others who youíve only heard about. The ideas exchanged, the new friends that were made, to me, thatís what made the convention a blast.
I just want to say that I walked in the lobby the first day expecting a Roman bath house where everyone would be nekkid and doing the horizontal monkey dance. I am happy to say that most people were fully clothed and very well behaved. This was a very well organized convention. 2 thumps up!
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