EPIA Seminars

Promoting Active Citizenship: Upward Mobility of Assyrians in Europe
9 December 2012, Gothenburg

The first seminar activity which has been organized within the framework of the EPIA Project - Promoting Active Citizenship: Upward Mobility of Assyrians in Europe - was held in Gothenburg on 9 December 2012. The event was organized by the Assyriska Föreningen i Göteborg in cooperation with the other EPIA partner organizations. Four speakers were invited: Ibrahim Baylan (politician, former Minister of Education), Feryal Mentes (Judge), Nuri Kino (journalist) and Adad Baranto (physician). The seminar, which attracted a highly interested audience of about 200 people of different age groups was moderated by Rachel Hadodo.

The seminar was opened with a word of welcome by the representative of the host organization, Maryam Garis. Afterwards, Soner Onder (Inanna Foundation) gave an introduction about the aims and objectives of the EPIA Project and discussed some key concepts that are used within the context of integration. The four speakers, based on their life stories, explained how they have managed to reach the position in which they are now in Swedish society. Their experiences illustrate very clearly typical characteristics of upward mobility among Assyrians/Syriacs in the diaspora. The main conclusions are:

  • All speakers were born in the homeland and emigrated to Sweden between the age of 7 and 10. They are considered as the '1,5 generation'. Therefore they can relate strongly to both the first and the second generation Assyrians/Syriacs.
  • Education has played an essential role in their upward mobility.
  • Despite the fact that their parents were either illiterate or low educated, they received moral support from their parents to pursue higher education. Family support is very important for breaking with the former traditional circle and contributes remarkably to the upward mobility of people by giving opportunities for individuals to change their path within the broader society.
  • They had side jobs besides their study.
  • They were active in social organizations.
  • They worked consciously hard in order to develop themselves.
  • For two of the speakers changing the place of living and living in a different city helped them to broaden their perspective about their life and future and gave them the opportunity to enter into broader society.
  • None of the speakers had any role models from within the Assyrian/Syriac community in the process of their upward mobility.

The upward mobility process should not be understood in terms of a series of rational choices and decisions but rather as a process where individuals make use of opportunities which they encounter. Their choices have also constructed their identity and their upward mobility. In this process, breaking with the traditional circles, getting forward and building more bridging social capital play an important role.

Inanna Foundation

The event has been broadcasted on Assyria WebTV in four episodes "Lyckad integration i Europa". Click here to watch the event on Assyria WebTV.

Click here for the pictures of the seminar.

See Hujada Magazine for an article about the seminar in Swedish, Baylan: "Lyft fram rätt förebilder" (L. Asmar, 15.12.2012).

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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication (communication) reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.