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Home arrow News arrow KAYOs 3rd Annual Conference for the Kurdish Youth inspires many and means better future
KAYOs 3rd Annual Conference for the Kurdish Youth inspires many and means better future چاپ ارسال به دوست, Los Angeles, CA, USA   

KAYOs 3rd Annual Conference for the Kurdish Youth inspires many and means better future

Press Release

Kurdish American Youth Organization (KAYO)

| 18-April-09

The Kurdish American Youth Organization (KAYO) held its third annual conference this month at San Diego State University (SDSU) in sunny San Diego, California. The purpose of this year's conference was to provide a discussion for the meaning of Kurdish identity with all its diversity and to encourage the youth to be more actively involved in their roles as Kurdish-Americans and residents of the United States.


The conference once again fulfilled the many objectives of the independent non-profit youth organization by bringing together a variety of people to discuss important topics ranging from education to activism to leadership, all pertaining to the Kurdish youth community.

The conference began with an introduction by a National KAYO Director, Mr. Rebaz Qaradaghi, who welcomed guests and attendees and presented a brief overview of the organization and purpose of the annual conference. Mr. Qaradaghi informed attendees of the various topics that would be discussed throughout the remainder of the day.

The treasurer of KAYO's Southern California Chapter, Ms. Rundik Barwari, introduced the first panel entitled, "Leadership". Ms. Barwari explained that the panel was focused around leadership in the Kurdish community both in the United States and abroad and how the youth can fulfill the leadership role in the community. The first guest speaker, Dr. Norman Leonard - the Director of Outreach at SDSU - began his talk by discussing ways in which the younger generation of Kurds can bridge the gap between various institutions for the advancement of the Kurdish cause. Dr. Leonard explained that young Kurds are in a unique position to tie together the older generations' experiences and detailed knowledge of the hardships faced in Kurdistan with the advantage of a strong understanding of how to effectively spread awareness in the United States.

The next speaker on the panel was Kurdish Youth Club of Atlanta member, Ms. Van Aran, who spoke about leadership roles among women throughout modern Kurdish history and the present. Ms. Aran argued that the contributions of women to the Kurdish cause should not be undermined, and in fact, that women have played and do play a very critical role in many different aspects. Mr. Goran Sadjadi, a KAYO National Advisor and former president, spoke next on the panel about activism in the United States. Mr. Sadjadi informed attendees about a number of ways in which they could be involved in public advocacy including community building, civic participation, political campaigning, media activism, and NGO activism among other things. He explained how each person could donate a fraction of their time to be involved in the American democratic process.

After a short break, conference attendees returned privileged to hear a series of talks by a number of speakers that would each focus on the importance of building a bridge between the Kurds in the United States and those in Kurdistan and other countries where there are large Kurdish communities. The first guest speaker, Dr. Fuad Hussein - the Chief of Staff of the Presidency of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) - presented a talk to the youth about what kind of role they could play to help Kurdistan now and in the future. Dr. Hussein described the potential power of Kurds in Diaspora and the critical position they are in to help Kurdistan be more prosperous and have a stronger voice abroad. Dr. Hussein also highlighted the importance of building bridges with other Kurdish communities, particularly in Europe, in order to strengthen the Kurdish voice and create a stronger consensus for the best interests of the Kurdish people.

Following Dr. Hussein's speech, Mr. Goran Sadjadi introduced a unique panel entitled, "Building Bridges". The first speaker on the panel, Mr. Qubad Talabany - the U.S. Representative to the KRG in Washington DC - talked about the importance of activism in the United States particularly at the civic level. He encouraged the youth to be more active in civic engagement and explained how achievements in the political arena in the U.S. are not far from within reach. He also explained that the KRG office in D.C. should be viewed as a resource for assistance to the Kurdish youth in ways they may need it and in ways the office could help them achieve their various goals. Also present was the KRG Minister of Foreign Relations, Mr. Falah Mustafa Bakir, who spoke about the various programs and tasks being undertaken by the KRG. Mr. Bakir talked about the achievements being made but reiterated the point that there is a crucial role that needs to be played by the Diaspora in assisting Kurdistan.

Finally, Mr. Siyar Ozsoy - a former advisor to the Mayor of Diyarbakir and a PhD candidate in Anthropology studies - spoke about the diversity of the Kurdish community as a whole and the similarities that bring Kurds together regardless of their political, religious, national or other backgrounds. Mr. Ozsoy touched on a number of aspects of the Kurdish culture that Kurdish society should not be afraid to improve and how globalization can be used as a benefit to the Kurdish people, rather than as a burden as some have often viewed it.

Following lunch, a member of KAYO's Southern California Chapter, Mr. Minhaj Akreyi, introduced the next panel, "Kurdish Identity". The first speaker on the panel was the Director of and a Kurdish-American activist, Dr. Kamal Artin, who gave a satirical presentation on a number of issues that are important to the Kurdish people. Dr. Artin pointed out hypocrisies that exist in Middle Eastern societies and the need to correct such issues and practice open-mindedness and tolerance to build an environment where people can share ideas that may be beneficial to all. The next speaker, Dr. Edip Yuksel - a philosopher, lawyer and scholar who has authored more than a dozen books and numerous articles on religion - talked about the importance of constantly ask questions and doing one's own research and educating one's self. Dr. Yuksel talked about his experiences as a youth being detached from his Kurdish identity because of the political circumstances in which he grew up and how he later realized the importance of one's true identity. He went on to describe the relation between the Kurdish identity and religions and the need for people to have a better understanding for the latter and not to blindly follow others and take things simply at face value.

Next on the panel was a very young member of the Kurdish community, Mr. Abdullah Akreyi, who gave a short speech about the pride he holds about his culture and heritage. Mr. Akreyi, as a representative of the next new and important generation of the Kurdish youth, gave a speech that inspired many of the attendees. The next speaker - Kurdish youth and activist, Ms. Cklara Moradian, who has written a number of artistic and expressive pieces under the title "Art in Words" on the KAYO National website - continued to inspire the audience. Ms. Moradian performed one of her pieces for the audience that expressed an individual's refusal to accept oppression and the denial of one's own existence and rights. Her strong and powerful words brought many in the audience to tears and received a long standing ovation.

Finally, the identity panel ended with a speech about Kurdish history and importance to overcome divisions and be more united by Mr. Minhaj Akreyi. Mr. Akreyi pointed out the number of betrayals that had existed throughout the history in Kurdistan from the ancient period up until modern times and the need to build a national consensus that is based on Kurdish identity and places interests of an oppressed nation before everything else.

Finally, the conference ended with a final panel that largely discussed the aims and objectives of the Kurdish American Youth Organization (KAYO). Mr. Nezar Ahmed, the National President of KAYO, shared the organization's goals and various prospects of the youth for the future. Mr, Ahmed spoke about the important role that the Kurdish youth have living in the United States and the benefit of working through an organization like KAYO in order to achieve common goals collectively and more effectively. Mr. Ahmed also spoke on behalf of the newly-formed KAYO Dallas Chapter, which just successfully completed its first project of organizing events for the Kurdish Newroz holiday, and the KAYO Michigan Chapter, that was one of the first chapters formed and that has been engaged in number of activities relating to raising awareness of the Kurdish people in the U.S.

Mr. Ahmed introduced the next speaker, Ms. Zeen Almissouri, who is the KAYO Southern California Chapter's Vice President and President of KAYO's sister student organization at SDSU - the Kurdish-Amercian Student Organization (KASO). Ms. Almissouri discussed the number of achievements made by her chapter throughout the last year and presented their various projects and events through a slideshow of pictures. She encouraged more involvement from the youth in her chapter's efforts. Finally, Mr. Aram Torabian - National Vice President of KAYO and a Regional Director for the KAYO Nashville Chapter - spoke on behalf of KAYO-Nashville and described the number of activities they are engaged in especially in the realm of American civic engagement. The KAYO-Nashville chapter was recently awarded by a non-profit group that recognizes organizational efforts that promote civic engagement.

The conference was followed by a very fun celebration in Spring Valley, California, near the university. Ms. Silove Barwari, president of the KAYO Southern California Chapter, welcomed the attendees and introduced a professional singer, Ms. Duygu Amed from Diyarbakir, who sang a number of beautiful traditional Kurdish songs and was accompanied by a live saz player and keyboard. Following her performance, Mr. Omer Gundi, a professional Kurdish singer from Europe gave an outstanding performance that kept most of the attendees in the hall on their feet dancing all night.

Many of the attendees danced in their traditional Kurdish clothes and celebrated the success of KAYO's third annual conference. Many described the event as inspirational as many more of the community's young generation enthusiastically attended both events during the day and showed their desire to work towards a better future for the Kurdish people.

Kurdish American Youth Organization (KAYO) is an independent youth and U.S. registered 501(c)(3) tax-deductible nonprofit organization. You can view pictures of the conference event by visiting the KAYO website at

KAYO Board of Directors

PO BOX: 1022
Boston, MA 02117

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KAYO is an independent and non-profit organization dedicated to promoting interest and awareness of the Kurdish cause, heritage and culture in societies and communities throughout North America.

To learn more about KAYO, please visit our website at

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