Language is a good learning tool, when guided by leaders who lead with good will and in the right direction according to the will of God.
For example, the earliest known writing was invented around 3400 B.C. in an area called Sumer in southern Mesopotamia.
Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) is a region comprising many cultures over time speaking different languages.
In Scripture, according to the Book of Genesis, originally "The whole world spoke the same language, using the same words.
"While the people were migrating in the east, they came upon a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there.
"They said to one another, ‘Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire. . . . Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth."
The ancient "land of Shinar" is in modern-day Iraq.
And the tower described in Genesis is known as the Tower of Babel.
In the Book of Genesis: God was not pleased with the Tower of Babel, so "The LORD came down to see the city and the tower that they had built. . . . Thus the LORD scattered them from there all over the earth, and they stopped building the city.
"That is why it was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the speech of all the world. It was from that place that he scattered them all over the earth." (For reference, see Genesis 11:5-9).
During this writer's childhood near "that place," and my early youth in Baghdad, Iraq, notwithstanding the unstable and repression regime of Saddam Hussein, one thing was certain: Iraqis continued to strive for their children to have a better future through a good, quality education.
As long as this writer has lived, English was always the second language in Iraq.
Historically and before Saddam’s regime, Iraqis who could afford it would send their children in England to get a better education.
During World War II, travel was prohibited, and many Iraqis decided the best alternative to an English education was the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits. The motto of the Jesuits is, “Ad Majorem Gloriam Dei,” ("For the Greater Glory of God.")
In 1932, American Jesuits from Boston founded a catholic secondary (or high) school in Bagdad: Baghdad College, ironically it's not far from the biblical Tower of Babel.
When these Jesuits first established Baghdad College, it didn't take off, at first.
Once the more affluent began to arrive, however, others followed.
This eventually led to Baghdad College becoming a success.
It educated about 1,000 students at a time, both Christians and Muslims.
All Christians attended religion classes where they were taught the Roman Catholic faith.
The Muslim students did not attend any religion classes. This was school policy.
According to Chaldean News: "In August of 1969, the Jesuits of Baghdad College were also banished from Iraq. Both schools were taken over and all fifteen major buildings, including two libraries and seven modern laboratories, were confiscated by the Baathi party."
Before its "dismissal" by the corrupt Baath party in 1969, Baghdad College had become Iraq’s most famous secondary school, having produced an Iraqi prime minister, a deputy prime minister, a vice president, among many other notable alumni.
After their dismissal by the corrupted Baath party (in 1969), the Jesuits left behind their modest monument - a secondary school, a university, some thousands of graduates, a handful of Iraqi Jesuits, and a wealth of good will and love.
The Jesuits at Baghdad College were encouraged by Muslim and Christian Iraqis to open an institution of higher learning. By way of some backgrouund, in 1955, the Jesuits opened AL-Hikma University, offering four year courses – with degrees in engineering, physics, and business administration.
Let's please remember, Baghdad College primarily was founded to help and assist the Christians so that these young men and women would have the opportunity to become leaders in Iraq, and be able to compete in all areas with their fellow Iraqis.
The right direction of this school and the good will of its founders further lead into creating a healthy environment of learning that differences in cultures, languages, or religions will generate better leaders who would approach differences in our world with civility and kindness.
As an Iraqi immigrant who lived in Iraq almost three decades and now is a U.S. citizen, this writer is always fascinated by the richness of Iraqi history and as the greatness of our American heritage.
The magnificent story of the Jesuit Baghdad College begs this question in post-Saddam Iraq: Can Baghdad College ever be restored to its prior greatness?
America has infused a great deal of its valued legacy of freedom and democracy into Iraq, and doing so during the most difficult challenges between the two countries during the 1991 Gulf War, and the liberation of Iraq in 2003.
This writer's hope, now, is that this U.S.-Iraqi shared legacy can be reconstructed rightfully in the land of Iraq, to be adapted substantially for and among younger Iraqis generations - - - for the purpose of seeing better Iraqi leadership emerge: "For the greater glory of God."
Rana Al Saadi, a refugee from Iraq, is a naturalized American citizen. Prior to co-founding PACEM Solutions International in Falls Church, Virginia, Mrs. Al Saadi held multiple senior executive positions and served with the U.S. Department of State as a cultural adviser and the U.S. Department of Defense as a translator/analyst in Iraq. Mrs. Al Saadi is a graduate of Baghdad University and Georgetown University. Read Rana Al Saadi's Reports — More Here.
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