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I am a Chaldean American

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A CHALDEAN IN THE DIASPORA?

With the Crisis occurring in our homeland today, and our people, by the thousands being forced to relocate, it can be easy to lose who we are in this day and age. In the past 30-40 years the homeland of Chaldeans has become a foreign archeological site. Chaldeans are now relocated around the whole world in places such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe. With something like a homeland being stripped from a people, what is it mean for them to retain their heritage?

As a first generation Chaldean-American living in San Diego, I can say that I am ethnically Chaldean, though I have yet to step foot in Iraq. I am the youngest of six children and I was the first and only child born in America. I often took on the title as “The Next President.” Growing up my family kept the traditions, the language, and culture that a Chaldean would have. It was not easy for me to keep those traditions though my family did so well. I attended American school, spoke English with my friends, and did not spend as much time that I did in a Chaldean atmosphere than I did in an American one. I was noticing that the thousands of years of history that our forefathers managed to maintain were being lost in the span of one generation. I had to make sure that I kept my heritage as close to me as possible so it could also be kept by the generations to come.

I brushed up on my Aramaic by learning how to read and write from Father Michael Bazzi’s Aramaic courses and forced myself to be back in tune with the traditions that my family had kept. The beautiful thing about the Chaldean Church is that it is the Number One preserver of the Aramaic language. Nowhere else do you see this language being spoken, read, and sung more than anywhere else in the world but the Chaldean Church. So to learn, that is where I went. Before I knew it, my family found me to be the one that was more “Chaldean” than all of them, and I was the American one.

What does it take to be Chaldean, you may ask? Things that are foreign to a person must be sought after. My Faith had to be sought after for me to live that life and learn the teachings of Christ. Just as my Faith needed to be sought after, my Chaldean heritage had to be sought after as well. Growing up in today’s society, important things like your religion and your heritage can easily become foreign right before your eyes and you may not even realize this occurrence. I started to ask, “Why do we do this?” “What does that mean?” “How do you say this?” and “How do you dance to that?” My answers to all these questions were thankfully all at my disposal due to my Church and my Family. My family is a microcosm of the great Chaldean heritage. And after learning all of these things about my heritage, I can say, I am a proud Chaldean-American.