Easy Kids Activity: Understanding Heritage
Date: November 1, 2016
Explaining something as abstract as heritage to a young child can be a challenge. They may have some sense of their own culture, but often times they are balancing more than one. By helping your child understand and respect similarities and differences you will also help your child to understand who he is in the context of your race, ethnic group, culture, religion, language and familial history. In so doing, you will provide your child with personally meaningful information and also introduce concepts from anthropology, history, religion, and geography.
Here’s a very simple and quick activity designed to help you initiate this conversation with your children (that also works with their attention spans!):
- Photos of various items/traditions that represent Assyrian heritage (see our photos below for ideas)
- Photos of various items/traditions
- Optional (see #5 below): scissors, glue, poster board
- Shuffle photos of Assyrian and non-Assyrian heritage. Place them into a face-down pile.
- Before starting, ask the children to define the world culture. They may have some ideas. Here is the simplest definition for a child: Culture is the way people live. Observable aspects of culture include language, clothing, celebrations, art, and food.
- Have children alternate picking up a photo from the pile. They should be asked to identify what’s pictured in the photo, and then decide if it’s an example of Assyrian heritage. The photos should then be divided into two piles (Assyrian and non-Assyrian heritage). We ran this activity in a large group setting. Each child was given a photo and told to keep it face-down until it was their turn. When prompted, they showed their image to the group and identified the object—often prompting laughter (i.e. a photo of sushi got the loudest laughs)—and together the group decided whether it was representative of Assyrian heritage. If the answer was yes, the child then added the photo to our board.
- Once you’ve identified all the examples of Assyrian heritage, allow the activity to lead into a discussion. Some sample questions: Which of these items are things we do/use everyday? Which of these traditions are your favorite?
- Optional: Encourage children to create a collage using the photos.
- Looking to go paperless or save ink? Consider using an iPad to display the photos. Create a photo album with the images (be sure they’re mixed). In this case, consider making a chart where children are encouraged to write down items that are part of Assyrian heritage. (In a large group setting, try a PowerPoint presentation).
- Another alternative is to create and print a worksheet with these photos and ask children to circle those that can be categorized as Assyrian heritage.
Remembering the Honorable Homer Ashurian
Date: August 3, 2016
The Assyrian Universal Alliance Foundation family is deeply saddened by the loss of the Honorable Homer Ashurian, who passed peacefully in Chicago, IL on Saturday, July 30, 2016. He was a central part of the AUAF for nearly thirty years, and will be sorely missed.
The late Homer Ashurian was born and raised in Urmia, Iran. He graduated from the University of Tehran with Masters Degrees in Archaeology and Assyriology. In 1958, he became a curator for the National Museum of Iran. Then in 1963, he went on to serve as the principal of two high schools in Tehran.
Five years later, he was part of the committee that established the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) in France. During this time, Ashurian also served as the editor for two Assyrian magazines, titled Kirkha (“the scroll”) and Shvila (“the way”), both published in Tehran.
In 1975, Homer Ashurian was elected to serve as a Congressman in the Iranian Parliament, giving a voice to the Assyrian people. He served honorably until the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
He ultimately found himself resettling in the United States with his wife, Suzy, and his two sons. Though far from home, distance did little to stop his efforts to secure a better future for his people, both in the homeland and in the diaspora. He joined the AUAF Board of Directors in 1987. Those who knew and worked with him here recall his total commitment to the organization’s mission and to the community. His experience and his knowledge of Assyrian history was highly respected by staffers and community members alike, many of whom viewed him as a mentor.
He had a forceful commitment to improving the lives of Assyrians in the homeland, as well as helping Assyrians in the United States through the challenges they faced with resettlement. Current Member of the Board Juliana Jawaro worked with Ashurian for many years and remarked, “We cannot thank him enough for his generosity demonstrated through the time and effort he dedicated to the AUAF.”
Young Assyrian activist Rose Youhanna posted a tearful tribute to Ashurian, writing, “I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had the chance to work with him through the Assyrian Universal Alliance Foundation. Rabi Homer was instrumental in countless AUA projects and endeavors, not least of which was my internship in The Hauge in 2013.”
The list of the Honorable Homer Ashurian’s accomplishments and contributions would fill many pages. Even those who did not have the opportunity to work with him are very familiar with his reputation, his work, and his legacy. As Fr. Dr. Sharbel Bcheiry of the Syriac Orthodox Church said on his passing, “His dedication and work will always be remembered and appreciated.”
Ashurian dedicated his broad intellect and his boundless energy to a singular cause: Assyrians. Though he is no longer with us, his legacy will live on—both in our mission at the AUAF, and in the hearts of all the people who have had the pleasure of working with him. We are grateful for his service.
Funeral arrangements have been set for the late Homer Ashurian. He will be laid to rest on Thursday, August 4, 2016. His funeral services will be conducted at Assyrian Christian Church located at 3300 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue in Chicago, IL. Burial services will follow at Montrose Cemetery located at 5400 N. Pulaski Road in Chicago, IL. A luncheon will be held in his honor following the services at 2:00pm at the Assyrian National Council of Illinois building located at 9131 Niles Center Road in Skokie, IL. The public is welcome to attend his services.