February 20, 2018
Presented by Linda Iggy Dean
Born Free Speech
Picture of Rose Paulian, Linda and Lillet Iguidbashian in 1972.
This speech uses the storytelling technique to make a point. It is a story of an 1st generation Armenian American growing up in Detroit in the 1960s. Written for the Toastmasters International Speech Contest August 2018. 5 to 7 minutes. It must stand on its own. Introduction is:
Linda Iggy Dean, Born Free, Born Free, Linda Iggy Dean.
Dressed like a village girl, belly dancing belt, wrist handkerchief, Kinda skip with left arm up to Shake hands with right.
I am the daughter of Armenian immigrants. My dad came to America in 1950 from Baghdad. My mom’s family came during WWI. They fled the Armenian Genocide which started in 1915. My dad’s family was sheltered by a Kurdish tribe. Infant Roupen’s was then carried to safety through Syria and on to Baghdad Iraq. Roupen’s father was killed in an Armenian church.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a story about freedom. America used to be the land of the free. I hope she will be again but there is no guarantee. It’s a shame because real people want Real freedom.
Let me tell you about my mom and dad and how they became free.
My mom Rose was born in Detroit in 1923. She hadd beautiful brown eyes, a kind heart and a sense of humor. Mom could make mouth-watering chicken, rice pilaf and fresh carrots every Sunday. Her secret was capturing fresh chicken broth for next week’s pilaf. She also made fresh yogurt from a gallon of whole milk and a cup of last weeks yogurt. My dad ate it up and lived to be 90. PAUSE
My nicknames were Little Rosie, chicken or pil-ah-gee (which means lover of pilaf.) My job was to make the salad as my dad grew the vegetables in his garden. I chopped, I peeled, and I diced. He planted parsley, onions and tomatoes. I spent hours separating the weeds from the parsley. Parsley was a food group in our house.
I lost myself in the calm of the garden. I still love the feeling of dirt on my hands. I became an Ayurvedic vegan so now I prefer nuts, fruits and my pilaf with vegetable broth.
If I had been raised in Armenia, I might have lived on a vineyard picking grapes and breathing fresh air. Instead, I was raised in the Motor City breathing exhaust fumes and dancing to Michael Jackson. DANCE
My parents introduced me to music. My mom played her 78s on her record player and my dad sang in the choir. When I was 3, I fell in love with Louie Armstrong and his trumpet. I wanted to be just like him. I then got to play the trumpet in 3rd grade. My bedroom was off the dining room. I loved blowing into my mouth piece after dinner. No one appreciated my practicing after dinner. HA HA
We moved from Detroit after the riots in 1967. Rev King had been killed and so had my step-grandfather in his dry-cleaning store. We stopped going to church. I eventually found my way to God in a Methodist church. I sang Amazing Grace and learned the Armenian Yerevan song,
YEREVAN DARTZATS, IM EREBOONIE,
DOO MER NOR DAVIN, MER NOR ANI (1, YouTube)
It means, Yerevan, capital of Armenian, became my Erebuni (Fortress)
You are my new divine, my new Ani. (Armenian capital in the 5th century)
147 words “Ani is a ruined medieval Armenian city now situated in Turkey’s province of Kars, next to the closed border with Armenia. Called the “City of 1001 Churches”, Ani stood on various trade routes and its many religious buildings, palaces, and fortifications were amongst the most technically and artistically advanced structures in the world. At its height, the population of Ani probably was on the order of 100,000.
Long ago renowned for its splendor and magnificence, Ani was sacked by the Mongols in 1236 and devastated in a 1319 earthquake, after which it was reduced to a village and gradually abandoned and largely forgotten by the seventeenth century. Ani is a widely recognized cultural, religious, and national heritage symbol for Armenians. According to Razmik Panossian, Ani is one of the most visible and ‘tangible’ symbols of past Armenian greatness and hence a source of pride.”[15
My dad grew up in Baghdad Iraq with his mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and two young uncles. . My dad hope to be a doctor. He finished high school but was denied entrance into college. When a Muslim man didn’t show up for pharmacy school, Roupen’s Uncle Yervant slide him into the program. A quota system was used to select Christians for advanced training.
Roupen wanted freedom., He came to America when he was 37. He repeated college and married Rosie Paulian in Detroit. Rosie was the first in her generation to graduate from college.
TRANSITION TO JOHN AND LINDA
My brother John and I are products of Detroit. We were born free. John, who passed out at the sight of blood in biology class, became a pediatric heart surgeon. He treats baby hearts in Portland Oregon and has 3 Iguidbashian Swedish children.
I grew up watching my dad fix toasters. I fetched tools and learned how to take things apart. I thank my dad for my engineering genes and my love of dirt. I have a beautiful daughter who is also an engineer, no broken toasters except for me. She is Armenian, Irish, and German. HA
Armenians are unusual. We are the disciples of the Jesus’ apostles. My dad knew Turkish, Arabic, Armenian and German. He would also spit at the window if a driver cut him off. HA My mom taught me how to swear like an Armenian sailor. HA
It’s challenging being an immigrant in America. Too often, you are seen through lenses of hatred. Being Armenians, we lost my homeland a hundred years ago. Some say Armenians cannot be killed because our faith in God. We will always walk this earth because we are free.
I eventually found God in the Methodist, Unity and Armenian churches. I believe we should Love one another. We are all free to Love. Please join ME by being free, you were born that way!
950 –147 – ~20 words is~780 words
PUT HAND OUT FOR THE CONTEST CHAIRPERSON
(1) Yeravan Song words and music. Retrieved Feb 15, 2018 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbq66OCx8mE
(2) The city of Ani Turkey. Retrieved Feb 15, 2018 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ani