Dr. Joseph Plumb Cochran

Date: October 4, 2022

Joseph Plumb Cochran was born on January 14, 1855 in Urmia, Qajar Iran. During his youth he learned the local languages of Assyrian, Azerbaijani, and Kurdish, in addition to English and Persian. When he was a teenager, he decided to travel to America in 1868 and ended up staying in Buffalo, New York. He studied medicine at New York Medical College where he graduated in 1876. He also did 2 years of residency and focused on surgery, infectious diseases, and gynecology.

Ultimately, he decided to return to Urmia and was assigned by the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions as a missionary physician to Persia. Joseph requested from congregation members of the Westminster Church of Buffalo and the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Mission funding for what would eventually become the Westminster Hospital. The building of the hospital was approved and construction was completed in 1882.

Joseph’s greatest legacy was creating and establishing a modern medical school called Westminster College, which was one of the first of its kind in Iran. He was the first director of the medical school, but was also joined by other American medical doctors, including Dr Wright, Dr Homlz, Thomas Langdon van Norden, and Emma T. Miller. Joseph directed the school for 27 years where there would be 26 medical students that would graduate from this school.

Joseph was a true pioneer when it came to medicine in Iran. Creating and developing the first medical school was a truly noble endeavor and many people benefited from it.

Written by: Nino Aishou



Esmail Yourdshahian, Farrokh Ghavam, Mohhamad-Hassan Ansari, Life of Dr. Joseph Plumb Cochran, Founder of Iran’s First Contemporary Medical College, Archives of Iranian Medicine, Academy of Medical Sciences, Islamic Republic of Iran, Vol. 5, No. 2 (April 2002).

Robert E. Speer, “The Hakim Sahib”, The Foreign Doctor. A biography of Joseph Plumb Cochran, M.D., of Persia, Illustrated (Fleming H. Revell Company, New York, 1911).

Hooman Estelami, The Americans of Urumia: Iran’s First Americans and their Mission to the Assyrian Christians (Bahar Books, LLC) 2021

Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, August 22). Joseph Cochran. Wikipedia. Retrieved September 1, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Cochran

What Age Should I Enroll My Student in Music Classes?

Date: September 30, 2022

The idea of one’s child being some sort of musical prodigy is undeniably an enticing one. It’s magical to see a child pick up an instrument at a young age and excel through the various stages of learning. This inspires many parents to register their students in a music class at a young age.

There is the opposite side of the coin to consider, however. We all have a friend who laments about how their parents forced them to learn to play a certain instrument, and how they hated every minute of it. No one wants their child to foster an abundance of negative memories due to being forced into something they don’t like.


So, when is the right time to enroll your child in a music class?


Unfortunately, the answer isn’t cut and dry. No two children will be ready for music at the same time, so it all depends on your child. If your child doesn’t express interest, they may not be ready. However, if your child responds to music by clapping, keeping beat, or singing, it could be time to sign your child up for a class.

Children as young as three can benefit from music classes—but it won’t be a traditional music lesson. These classes will be more about getting your child accustomed to making music and learning some (very) basic techniques. This will set them up for success in a fun, group environment.


For three-year-olds, instruments like small drum sets, whistles, and even recorders are best. However, if your child expresses interest in piano or guitar, it’s always recommended to let them try.

It’s between the ages of five and seven that a child may be ready for a formal music lesson. Most five-year-olds can focus on singular tasks for a period of time, allowing them to really learn. During these lessons, your child will learn about common principles of music as they learn how to play their instrument of choice.

In this age range, instruments like piano and drum are perfect, as the child doesn’t have to attempt to lift and hold an instrument. Certain instruments can be rented in a child-size. This Something like a full-sized violin, for instance, would be too wieldy for small, six-year-old hands.


By the age of ten, your child will have the discipline they need to be serious about an instrument, as well as the size and physical dexterity they need to play larger brass or string instruments. At this age, your child should be ready to play whatever instrument interests them. Encourage your child to try several instruments so they can determine which instrument would be best for them.

The general rule of thumb to keep in mind? Follow your child’s guide. Encourage their interests to ensure they have the richest musical journey possible.

At the Nebu J. Issabey Music Program, we believe it’s important to foster exceptional talent at an early age. Our private tutors can help your child learn piano, violin, viola, cello, woodwinds, and brass instruments.  For more information on the program, call us at 224-935-2366.

Abraham Karem

Date: September 27, 2022


Abraham “Abe” Karem was born on June 27, 1937 in Baghdad, Iraq to an Assyrian couple. His family moved to Israel in 1951, where he spent most of his life. From an early age, Abe knew that he was going to be a mechanical engineer: ‘“I am a toy man,”’ he explains. ‘“What motivates me from the time I was a kid—call it technology, call it whatever—it was play. By the age of eight, I knew I’m going to be a mechanical engineer. And oh my God, by the age of 13 or 14, I fell in love with aeronautics”’. He eventually went to Isreal’s renowned Technion Institute of Technology where he earned an aeronautical engineering degree.

He founded Leading Systems Inc. in his home garage where he started to really create history. Working with Abe in the garage were two other believers in UAVs: Jack Hertenstein, a brainy, bashful engineer and radio control modeler Karem had met at Developmental Sciences, and Jim Machin, a pre-med student who’d impressed Abe at a free-flight modeling meet. Together they created the first unmanned aerial vehicle that they called Albatross. The UAV was 200 pounds and carried a camera in its nose.

The drone’s exceptional performance lead it to be funded and contracted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. There they created a bigger model with the same configurations as Albatross that they dubbed Amber. Abe continued on, with private funding help, to develop an even bigger drone called Gnat-750. However, his company, in 1990, filed for bankruptcy and was bought out by General Atomics. Luckily for Abe and his team, the new owners invited them to work for General Atomics. It was with General Atomics that Abe and his team made the famous MQ-1 predator drone for the CIA and he was nicknamed the “Drone Father”

Written by: Nino Aishou


Magazine, S. (2013, April 1). The man who invented the predator. Smithsonian.com. Retrieved August 25, 2022, from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/air-space-magazine/the-man-who-invented-the-predator-3970502/

Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, May 16). Abraham Karem. Wikipedia. Retrieved August 25, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Karem

Books that Will Inspire Your Struggling Reader to Read this School Year

Date: September 21, 2022

Books that Will Inspire Your Struggling Reader to Read this School Year

For students who dislike, or struggle with, reading, it is a battle to get them to pick up a book over the school year. As a parent, you recognize the importance of continuing to read, but your child may not.

However, when students don’t read daily, they begin to lose the critical skills they developed over time. For children who struggle with English, this is especially detrimental. So, inspire your child to keep reading daily with these fun, engaging books. These fast reads will keep your child’s attention and have them reaching for more all year long.



Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne

Children of the ‘90s will recognize this title.  Magic Tree House follows a pair of siblings on their series of adventures—some totally fabricated, others rooted in historical events. Osborne’s clear and lively writing style continues to entice children for 30 years, and parents enjoy that their child is learning something while having fun.

Since 1992, Osborne has released 108 novels in the Magic Tree House universe, so your child could be busy reading all year long with this series alone. There is even a secondary Magic Tree House series, the Merlin Missions books, which is designed to target slightly older children.


Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Diary of a Wimpy Kid took the world by storm in the early 2000s. Its fun illustrations, relatable characters, and a writing style that is easily accessible to children of any reading ability quickly made it a classic. With 17 novels in the series and 11 supplementary books, your child has ample opportunity to enjoy the humor of this series.


Alvin Ho by Lenore Look

For lovers of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Alvin Ho is a great next step. It’s another illustrated chapter book that follows a boy as he navigates school and everything that scares him in life. The Alvin Ho series tackles the sensitive topic of anxiety in a fun way that is accessible to children. It’s valuable for them to see these struggles represented so they know it is a normal feeling, and how to cope with it.


Who Was/What Was Series

For parents who want their children to learn more important figures and events in history, the Who Was? and What Was? series are fantastic options. They are quick and to the point, with beautiful illustrations written by various experts. With over 250 titles, it’s likely your child will find a number of books that pique their interest.


Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson is a series of novels following the titular character as he explores the world of Greek Gods in the 21st century. Herald as “perfectly paced” and “electrifying,” millions of children across the world found themselves enthralled by this series and its subsequent spin-offs. This series is geared towards slightly children, so keep that in mind as you offer it to your child.

A television series is currently in the works, so by the time your child finishes reading the series, they’ll be excited to compare and contrast the two forms.


Let your child read what they want to read

Author R.L. Stine famously said, “Let kids read what they want to read, don’t try to force them to read ‘good’ books. I always say it’s really important to let kids find what they like and let them read it.” If you gate-keep your child’s reading, they will likely grow to resent reading altogether. Instead, encourage your child to read any book. Of course, you can make suggestions, but know it is always up to them to put down or pick up a book.

If your child struggles with their English homework reading will certainly help, but having a tutor to support them will make all the difference. Call 224-935-2366 or email stella.sweiss@acf-us.org to learn more about the Assyrian Cultural Foundation Tutoring Program.

John Shabbaz

Date: September 19, 2022


John Calvin Shabbaz was born on January 19, 1924 in Gary, Indiana. He was the son of Jonathan and Leah Shahbaz of Turlock. He enlisted in the United States Air Force on November 7, 1942, during the midst of World War II. He quickly completed his crew training at Peterson Field Colorado and arrived at the Metfield bomber base. He became the navigator of the new combat-ready Strategic Air Commands’ newest heavy bomber, the B52 Stratofortress. The giant aircraft is powered by 8 jet engines, flies at speeds of 600 miles per hour, and operates at altitudes above 50,000 feet. He was a part of the 491st Bombardment Group that lead a bombing mission over northern France and Germany from June 1944 to April 1945. John would spend the next 23 years with the Strategic Air Commands.

Over the course of his air force career, he reached the rank of Colonel. He was also awarded six different medals for his services: Air Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, European-African, Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and Air Force Commendation Medal.

John was a true patriot of the United States giving almost 25 years to the air force for this country. He was a true hero and an inspiration to all. But, most importantly, he was an Assyrian.

Written by: Nino Aishou



How Music Education Can Benefit Your Child Academically

Date: September 16, 2022

How Music Education Can Benefit Your Child Academically

When budget cuts begin, schools almost always start to reduce funding for their music programs. There is still an ideology that the fine arts are secondary to other academics. This belief is based on the misconception that students who devote their time to music rather than STEM (Science, Technology, Engineers, and Mathematics) will underperform in school.

This, however, has shown to be a false belief. In a study published by the Journal of Educational Psychology, students who learned to play a musical instrument in elementary school and continued playing through high school had scored higher on exams. These students were also more likely to have higher English, mathematics, and science grades, regardless of socioeconomic background, ethnicity, and gender.



Thus, how can your child’s involvement in music benefit them academically? Music engages several portions of the brain, areas that may otherwise not be stimulated without participating in the fine arts. Music students specifically must learn to read music notation, develop hand-eye coordination, listening skills, discipline, and team skills when in an ensemble all at a young age.

In addition to higher grades and test scores, several studies have identified these key factors positive effects of students receiving a music education.



Enhanced language skills

Studies have shown that musical training develops the left side of the brain, which is associated with language, speech production, and speech comprehension. Due to their enhanced ability to process new sounds, musical students can quickly learn new words and correctly articulate them. Children who play an instrument are more likely to have a larger vocabulary than their non-musical peers. A musical background also helps students learn languages and become proficient faster.



Stronger memory

A major aspect of learning music involves memorization. As students move forward with their musical education, they must learn to sight read music quickly for the first time, play all the proper notes, and recall lyrics. Due to this constant recall, it results in students having improved memory. Music is also an art that builds on previous knowledge. Thus, children are forced to remember what they previously learned, strengthening their memory further.



Collaboration with peers

While students often partake in individual or very small group classes with a tutor, playing an instrument often leads students to join a large ensemble. By being a member of an orchestra or band, students must rely on one another to ensure their performance is cohesive and correct. There is a sense of responsibility engrained in students that their practicing is essential for the entire ensemble to sound good for rehearsal or a performance. Students also form social bonds and a sense of belonging within their ensemble, cultivating new friendships they may not have otherwise made.



Improved mental health

Those who practice music often grow to have a better relationship with their mental health. This could be in relation to self-esteem, as many students feel a sense of achievement as they grow more confident with their instrument of choice. Students who practice music are also more likely to have higher empathy than non-musical peers, an essential trait for those who are planning on pursuing jobs in education, the healthcare field, and much more.



Stress relief

As so many of us enjoy turning on our favorite music when we need to unwind, creating music helps relieve many students’ stress. Even if it is only for a short period of time, a few minutes of playing an instrument can have a strong impact on your child’s overall stress levels.

For parents who want their shape their children into well-rounded students, one of the best routes they can take is to enroll their student in a music class. At our Nebu J. Issabey Music Program, we can help your student master piano, violin, viola, cello, woodwinds, and brass instruments. Call our music program coordinator, Emma Shaw, at 224-935-2366 or email her at emma.shaw@acf-us.org to learn more about the program.

Robert Dekelaita

Date: September 13, 2022


Since July of 2019, the Assyrian Cultural Foundation has been hosting Assyrian history classes led by Robert DeKelaita.  However, did you know that DeKelaita has actually been involved with ACF (formerly, the AUAF) since the 1980s?


Robert DeKelaita was born in Kirkuk, Iraq, but came to the United States at a young age with his parents in 1973, in order to find more political and economic freedom.  He eventually earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago in political science and philosophy, a Master of Arts degree from the University of Chicago in international relations, and a Juris Doctor degree from Loyola University of Chicago’s law school.  However, even while working on his degrees, DeKelaita continuously remained involved with the Assyrian community and with ACF (AUAF).


Shoumanov, V., 2001. , in: Assyrians in Chicago. Arcadia, Charleston, SC, pp. 89–89.


About a year later, the library found a home at the Assyrian Universal Alliance Foundation located at 7055 North Clark in Chicago.  Not content with simply collecting books and periodicals, the Assyrians students organized meetings and lectures, reprinted old books, printed their own periodical, and provided memberships for people.  Although the Ashurbanipal Library started out as the vision of a group of students, today, it has transformed into a collection of over 6,500 books and over 2,000 periodicals, making it, perhaps, the largest library focused on both ancient and modern Assyrians in the world.



Robert DeKelaita has loved learning Assyrian history ever since he was a boy listening to his parents’ and grandparents’ stories.  His favorite period of Assyrian history is the 19th century, since that is when the East and West began to interact with each other more frequently.  His Master of Arts degree was in International Relations, where he focused on the formation of nationalism. His master’s thesis is titled “The Origins and Development of Assyrian Nationalism,” and can be found online here. The article, and a similar one entitled “On the Road to Nineveh,” (published in the Journal of the Assyrian Academic Society in 1994), has been sited by hundreds of scholars in their works.


Teaching young Assyrians about their heritage at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, circ. 1984.


In addition to the Ashurbanipal Library, DeKelaita has worked with ACF (AUAF) in other ways as well.  In the late 1980s, he worked at the AUAF to help new Assyrian immigrants and refugees find jobs in the Chicago area.  He also became the Executive Director of the AUAF from 1988-89.  Additionally, he taught art classes there and would occasionally lead Assyrian kids on field trips to the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago.


While in law school, DeKelaita continued working on Assyrian projects.  During that time, he started publishing an Assyrian magazine called the Nabu Quarterly.  He also established Nabu Books, which focused on selling scholarly and popular books about Assyrian history and literature to Assyrians throughout the world.


Since DeKelaita was a co-founder of the Ashurbanipal Library, I asked him which book he would recommend to people who wanted to learn more about Assyrian history, if he could only recommend one book.  Although he does not agree with the author on the question of continuity of Assyrian history, he recommends John Joseph’s book, The Modern Assyrians of the Middle East: Encounters with Western Christian Missions, Archaeologists, and Colonial Powers, which was published by Brill in 2000.  The book’s work and research is important for those wanting to learn more about Assyrians. “The book encapsulates the history of our people better than many on the subject, and has a strong sense of compassion for the plight of the Assyrian people, something that other books are missing.” DeKelaita knew and communicated with Professor John Joseph long ago. “He and I disagreed of course, but we were always understanding of each other’s stance on Assyrian history.” John Joseph once called DeKelaita and complimented him on an article he had written, telling him “it is the best I have seen on the subject, but I totally disagree with you.” DeKelaita and Joseph developed a friendship and Joseph read carefully DeKelaita’s Nabu Quarterly and commented on it frequently in private.


Robert DeKelaita values Assyrian history not only because he finds it interesting, but also because he feels that it is one of the few things that Assyrians have to keep them linked to their ancient past and to each other. “If Assyrians want to continue to exist,” he states, “they must know their collective history, language, and culture. There is no way around it. Otherwise, they will become the stuff of museums in the West.”


It is not too late to register for ACF’s Assyrian history class on the modern Assyrian Period with Robert DeKelaita.  Classes will start on September 7, 2022. Click here to learn more and to find the link to register.

How to Encourage Your Child’s Studying

Date: September 7, 2022


It is essential for students to be adamant about taking responsibility for furthering their education. It can be frustrating for parents to see their child express a lack of interest in schoolwork. To facilitate your student’s learning, parents can encourage their children to develop healthy, effective, and fun studying habits to better their outlook on school.


1.      Identify the issue

Prior to setting a studying regime for your child, have a discussion that allows you to recognize what specific weaknesses your student may have. What factors are causing your child to avoid studying? Are they struggling with the material? Conversely, is the work not challenging enough, leading to boredom? There can be a multitude of answers to these questions, but it is crucial for a parent to first identify the issue that stems from the student’s difficulties in school.


2.      Avoid continuous reminders and replace with words of encouragement

Parents always want what is best for their child, yet this may be misinterpreted by the student. Try to reword some phrases when speaking to your child. For example, instead of saying, “When I was your age, I did…” and creating a comparison in their mind, approach your child with encouraging words like “That is a good idea, but perhaps try this technique.” It is easy for students to build a hatred towards schoolwork if parents give discouraging remarks or constantly hold their students to unrealistic expectations. Instead, encourage your children to do the best that they can, and you will provide unconditional support.


3.      Develop and follow a realistic study routine

Structure is a key indicator for child success in school. Having a set schedule that indicates when your child will complete their work will be both helpful in keeping them on track with school and it is motivating each time they finish an assignment. To also visually see the breakdown of how long it will take to complete their homework, it can make school significantly less overwhelming for students. It is also important to ensure flexibility in the initiate schedule and to account for disruptions that may arise, making it easy for a student to continue completing their assignments if other personal or academic issues arise.


4.      Taking breaks for optimal attentiveness

It is not practical for anyone, especially a child, to be expected to work continuously for hours on end without a break in sight. That is why spacing out your child’s study time will lead to the highest degree of productivity, as opposed to loosing attention and yielding lower quality work. Try to implement either short, frequent breaks, or a few long breaks after sustained study periods; regardless of which methodology works for your child, they will greatly benefit from these pauses between studying.


5.      Establishing an Adequate Study Area

It is critical for your child to be in a spot that allows for them to work on their assignments and allow for critical thinking. For some, setting up a quiet and comfortable space for your child to study at home is beneficial. If there are several distractions hindering your child’s productivity, this can serve as a major difference in your child’s studying. For others, they may excel from collaborative environments that lead to generating ideas and analytical thinking. Again, regardless of which study space works best for your child, it should be set up and maintained throughout the duration of the school year to ensure your child’s success in their academics.


6.      Guarantee the accessibility to resources your child may need

If possible, it is important to provide your child with all the resources they may need to finish their assignments and excel in their academics. Whether it is additional tutoring classes or merely just school supplies, supplemental tools will be extremely beneficially for your student.


7.     Seeking external services

If your child prefers to work in a group setting or you want to see if tutoring classes align with your student’s learning style, consider getting outside instruction. Your child may be more willing to listen to the advice and guidance of a tutor, and a tutor can present various techniques and skills that can excel your child’s performance in school.

If you think your child would benefit from having a tutor, call 224-935-2366 or email stella.sweiss@acf-us.org to learn more about our tutoring program.

David S. Dooman

Date: September 6, 2022


David S. Dooman was born in Nara, Japan in 1894. Both David’s parents were Assyrians from the village of Degala, Rezaieh, Iran. His father Dr. Isaac Dooman, author of several books on the Far East, served as a Protestant Episcopal missionary. David lived in Japan until he was fifteen years old. He went to Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut, where he graduated in 1916. He received his doctor’s degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, New York.

Being born in Nara, Japan, David is one of the most unique Assyrians. Having lived there for so long, he felt himself a native of Japan as well as an Assyrian. Despite moving to the United States and no longer being in Japan, David would go on to become the director of the Japan Society of San Francisco. David’s brother, Eugene Dooman, would also go ahead and give back to his homeland of Japan by becoming an American diplomat who was a counselor to the American Embassy in Tokyo during the beginning of World War II.

Having been born within 2 different cultures, David is truly is an exceptional individual. This proves that Assyrians are located all around the globe and not just in the Middle East!

Written by: Nino Aishou


David S. Dooman, Retired Physician . (1955, February). Assyrian Star, 4(2), 10–11.

Post, D. (n.d.). Tomihiko Kambara, left, consul for Japan, and dr. David Stoddard… Getty Images. Retrieved August 12, 2022, from https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/tomihiko-kambara-left-consul-for-japan-and-dr-david-news-photo/836911392

Dr. Harry P. Packard

Date: August 30, 2022


Dr. Harry P. Packard was a medical missionary who served in Iran for over 40 years. Dr. Packard was assigned to the West Persia Mission in 1906 where he stayed until 1913. Dr. Packard expressed great interest to his medical board that he wanted to be transferred from Urmia to Meshed, as his services were greatly needed at this station. The board agreed to this and stated that he should report to the station in Meshed. When this information reached the mission in West Persia, a protest erupted. When all was said and done, the board rescinded their previous decision and Dr. Packard was to stay in West Persia. This anecdote highlights the benevolence and esteem that Dr. Packard had when in West Persia. The people in this mission were so attached to Dr. Packard and his kindness, teachings, and medical prowess that they would protest to keep him there. They were truly grateful for everything that Dr. Packard had done for them.

Ultimately, he remained there until 1919 when he was called upon to serve in the Armed Forces of his country. During his years of service in the Armed Forces, Assyrians everywhere came to know and love Dr. Packard. He was a man of great personality, bravery, and devotion to healing the wounded and ill. He was responsible for literally saving the lives of thousands of Assyrians injured in the line of duty. He even provided them shelter in church buildings.

From 1921 to 1944 he was assigned to medical work in the Kermanshah area. The people there knew him as a compassionate and warm-hearted physician who would frequently serve the needy and poor. In 1944, he was appointed as a medical attaché by the state department of the United States and assigned to the American Embassy in Teheran until his retirement in 1946.

Dr. Packard was a great man who had an even greater heart. He was known far and wide for not only his talents as a physician but for his compassion and benevolence.

Written by: Nino Aishou


Khoobyar, S. O. (1954, November). Assyrians Mourn Loss of Dr. H.P. Packard. Assyrian Star, 3(11), 15.

A Physician Beloved. (1913). The Assembly Herald, 19, 678–679.