Archive for October 2010

The new Assyrian “Generation Lost”, its consequences and solutions

It is the new “Generation Lost” or “Generation Confused” if you will. It is the generation of Assyrians who left their homeland in Iraq and the Middle East, spent years and even decades in different countries, before settling in a final destination country (USA, Canada, Australia etc.)

Given all the lost years in-between, these Assyrians have lost a lot, most importantly their sense of normalcy, stability, education and more.  Above all, their psyche has suffered a lot and it shouldn’t be a surprise if we find a lot of them suffering from a sense of being lost or depressed.  Not to mention, a lot of the young Assyrians who had to go through this, upon arriving at their destination country, find that they have lost more than one step. 

Sure they may be happy to finally reach their destination- in a lot of cases not the country they were hoping for-once they settle down, the shock hits them. They have lost a lot of time, and have a lot of catching-up to do. They must start from zero in most cases. Some may argue that this is nothing new to Assyrians, and that we have always been on the run, never settling in one place. That may be true in general, but in this case, instability is taking on a different meaning.

What are the consequences of this generation for the Assyrian people and nation? better yet, what solutions can be introduced to help this generation make up for what it lost? How can it find itself amongst this intermixing of cultures (country of origin, temporary host country, final destination country)

As we have already defined it, “Generation Lost” is all or most of those Assyrians who spent at least 3 or more years, on the way between their original homeland and their new country of settlement.  This becomes more serious when the family or persons involved are teenagers or adults.  It may be easier to handle by very young kids, who have no school to worry about, or old people, who have no work or school to worry about either. But for all those in-between, specifically the teenagers and young adults, there is a lot at stake.  They have been away from school for too long, sometimes to the point of no return and no academic future. And there are those who had started their school in the homeland, had to abandon it due to fleeing the country, but arrived a little too late to be able to continue their studies.

I know and have met many Assyrian men and women who belong to this “Generation Lost.”  With all due respect, they do seem lost at times, and they will even acknowledge it very gracefully.   A lot of them have settled here in Canada and Toronto, and although they may decide to go back and learn/strengthen their English language skills, their mind is too tired for them to be able to go back to school and start from scratch. Not to mention, by the time they get here, they are old enough to be managing a family and can’t afford to go back to school.  What is worse, some may decide to go back to school, only to leave it after a while and just focus on working instead.

With a significant segment of our Assyrian population in the diaspora inundated with this, it is serious enough to do something about it. “Generation Lost” is confused, lost and doesn’t have time on its side to be able to catch up to what has been lost. With this being the case with thousands, it has the potential to polarize the Assyrian community into different classes, the worst of which is that which doesn’t have any real or serious education. So you have a large group of Assyrians, probably in the thousands, who will spend the rest of their life working in factories and other jobs that can’t help them live a decent living.

Solutions: What to do about this helpless generation?

Every Assyrian who is already living in the west should do their best to assist these new comers, and help them make up for what has been lost. Often times, getting them back to school is as easy as giving them the right advise. In countries like the USA and Canada, and unlike many other countries in the third world, you can restart your education even if you are in your late 20s, late 30s, heck even late 40s.

So despite what “Generation Lost” may have gone through, it is never too late to go back to a normal and above average life. But then it all depends on how the person feels and how motivated they are to start a new life, and to put all these lost years behind them. So the the personal will and drive has to be there as well, coupled with the encouragement of others.

When the Irish, Jewish, Italians and Germans arrived in America at the turn of last century, they had left a lot behind, but that didn’t bother them. They worked hard, studied non-stop, and became doctors, lawyers, engineers, politicians and in other positions where they took their future from an average or desperate one to an excellent and rich one. Assyrians should do the same. They may have lost a lot of years, but the future matters more, as long as there is a will and drive to only go forward.