The 2nd Annual Assyrian Scholarship Competition was held this last weekend at the Larsa Banquet Hall where contestants vied for over $6,000 in scholarships.
In a two day event hosted by the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, young individuals showcased their knowledge in Assyrian history, academic achievement, Assyrian literacy, talent, public speaking, and self representation in an interview.
Seven finalists continued in the competition on Sunday and included: Sharokeena Atanus, Donald Babadalir, Sweenie Betsargis, Butrus (Peter) Ishaya, Vincent S. Lazar, Bianca Jacqueline Mar-Elia, and Eden Sayad.
While the candidates showcased their talents including singing, playing the piano, presenting artistic drawings and models, and a poetry with rhythm performance; they also each fielded a randomly drawn question such as: Do you feel it’s important to use Assyrian names in naming children and why? What’s more important, to stay in the western world and develop with the rest of the world or to go and claim back our land and start from scratch? How would you go about educating others about Assyrians?
Most of the program was spoken in Assyrian, as were most of the contestants’ answers.
Judges Dr. Ashour Badal, Dr. Dino Elyassnia, Betty Julien, Nora Betyousef Lacey, and Pierre Noghli tallied the total points of the finalists after two days of competition.
Committee Chair Anokeen Varani announced that scholarships to be awarded would be $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second, and $1,000 for third. Varani also explained that due to the generous donations that the contestants would receive $100, along with a gift bag including a bible, a certificate of achievement from Turlock Mayor John Lazar, an event t-shirt, gift certificates and more.
Those in attendance were excited about the amount to be awarded to the contestants.
Donald Babadalir won the $3,000 first place as performed a poetry and rhythm piece about the October 31, 2010, Baghdad church attack and answered the question regarding whether to stay and develop in the western world or go back and claim the land Assyrians once had by saying that Assyrians should better prepare themselves with such things as education and organization before attempting to claim a country (translated summary of statement).
Eden Sayad was awarded the $2,000 second place and Peter Ishaya won the $1,000 third place.
Donations to the event were made by: Nora Lacey, Ash Pirayou (in honor of Volodia Pirayou), Dr. Antoine Varani, Betty Julien (McCormick and Barstow), Ramina Ziyeh, Ashourbella Betoshana Lazar and Youbert Lazar, Mary Sargoni, Edmond and Carmen Morad, Western Valley Insurance, Marodeen Ebrahimzadeh, Skewers Restaurant, Bocellis Restaurant, Lorraine Davis, Amir Younan, and Pauline Bartl.
Anokeen Varani stated that Assyrian Scholarship Competition was originally created to showcase the candidates, however, the judges show the present capabilities of Assyrians while the candidates show the future and that the contributors to the event should be recognized for their support.