- Wednesday, November 15 2006, 1:17:46 (CET)|
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When we moved from Iraq to Illinois in 1966, my father, Rabi Youav Yonan, was in shock over the fact there was not a SINGLE Assyrian school in the United States. Hardly ANY American-born Assyrian could be found that even spoke Assyrian. The only Assyrian word they knew how to say was GASHA, (meaning Qasha, or priest). He begged the Assyrian churches to donate money for a school, to no avail. He was then forced to start a school at the Assyrian Presbyterian church in Chicago. A couple of years later, Dr. Robert Paulissian moved from Tehran to Chicago and asked my father why he was holding Assyrian school at a church? Why not do it at an Assyrian Cultural Center? The next day my dad went and asked the Assyrian Social Club on Devon Ave for two lousy rooms. They gave us the rooms and we attended school there for a couple of months.
One day we came to school and all of our chairs had been spray-painted, so we couldnít sit on them. It turns out that the Assyrian men didnít want us there because they wanted to continue their gambling. My dad was so angry he almost cried. He couldnít believe his own people would sabotage the Assyrian School, instead of supporting it!
The next day, my dad went to Northeastern Illinois University located at 5500 N. St. Louis Street in Chicago. He asked Dr. Kennedy for two rooms where he can teach Assyrian. Dr. Kennedy gave him SIX classrooms, not TWO. Thatís the difference between ďChristianĒ Assyrians and an educated outsider.
When Rabi William Daniel heard my dad had started an Assyrian school, he came and offered his teaching services for free. My dad bought two Assyrian busses with his own money, and printed new Assyrian grammar books for us, with his own money. He would drive the bus and pick-up all the Assyrian kids who wanted to learn Assyrian and would bring them to the college. Rabi William Daniel had already published two books, Ramina Patanta, and Qateena Gabara, so we used them as well. Other teachers came in and taught the lower classes. There was an Assyrian-American by the name of Connie, who was married to an American woman, who brought us home-made cookies, which his wife baked at home. This man brought us cookies RELIGIOUSLY to encourage the students to stay in school and give us moral support. After a few years, one of the Assyrian families whose children attended our school made it known to my father that they could run the school better than my dad could. They wreaked havoc on our school, causing internal fighting, and pitting all the teachers against one another. Finally, my dad put a stop to it and told them if they didnít like the way the school was being run, they could either start their own school, or wait their turn to be elected into the board.
To make a long story short, my dad ran this school for 10 years by himself, while working and supporting a family of 6, and going to school at night to get his masters degree. During those ten years, nearly 500 Assyrian children graduated form Assyrian elementary school. There were approximately 100 adults as well, who had never spoken Assyrian before. One of those adults was the late Sarah Paz, who went on to become editor of the Assyrian Star magazine. Then came an Assyrian man by the name of Ashur Soro who asked my dad for a few classes where he could teach some young and troubled Assyrian youth he had taken under his wings That man is now known as Mar Bawai.
When my dad was retiring he asked the family that was giving him trouble, if they would be interested in taking the school over. They were very interested, so they took over the school and my dad watched them run it into the ground! The school closed down after just a few months of being taken over by a family who thought they could run it better than my dad.
The moral of the story?
There are no Assyrians left in the world, only wanna-be CHRISTIAN CHIEFS!
Ashur help us all!
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