An evening with Archbishop Amel S Nona DD
On Wednesday 23 May 2018, Warrane College welcomed Archbishop Amel S Nona DD, Eparch of St Thomas the Apostle of Sydney of the Chaldeans since 2015. He spoke to the boys about some of the persecution he and his church have experienced in Iraq, and it was clear that he is a man of great faith.
What is the Chaldean Catholic Church?
The Chaldean Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic particular church that is in full communion with the Holy See and the rest of the Catholic Church, and, as the archbishop told the boys, traces back to St Thomas the Apostle. The Chaldean Patriarchate was originally formed out of the Church of the East in 1552 and is part of Syriac Christianity by heritage. It is headquartered in the Cathedral of Mary Mother of Sorrows in Baghdad, Iraq. While most of its congregation live in northern Iraq, there are also many Chaldeans in the Western world, such as the Chaldean Catholic Diocese of Australia and New Zealand which is based at Bossley Park, Sydney, NSW.
Archbishop Nona was ordained a priest of Alquoch (Chaldean), Iraq in January 1991, was ordained a bishop in January 2010, and was installed Archbishop of Mosul (Chaldean), Iraq in January 2010. He works generously for the Chaldean people here who been affected by the plight of Christians in Iraq; his motto being that ‘during a time of crisis and persecution, we must remain full of hope’.
Archbishop Nona’s experiences in Mosul
When he was installed Archbishop of Mosul, Nona’s predecessor had just been kidnapped and killed. It was evidently a role meant for a man of faith.
“How can one confront persecution starting from the basis of faith?” Archbishop Nona asked the boys. “If others want to kill us, and if I am to die an hour later, it is required of us to live life now, rejoicing and filled with courage in the moment. The strongest weapon against terrorism is a happy life and fully Christian.”
The archbishop recounted his experience of Holy Week in Mosul in 2011. Holy Thursday mass was planned for early in the day rather than the usual evening mass, so that people would get home safely afterwards. On the day however, a curfew was enforced by the army; which banned anyone from driving, and in some places, they weren’t even allowed to travel on foot. He asked the police to take him to the church to see what could be done, hoping that the mass could go ahead even if only with a handful of people. But on arrival, he found that the church was already about one-third full, and more people started arriving as time went on – whole families had come walking! Some had walked more than an hour to be there – a dangerous feat, especially for young women travelling alone. The archbishop was amazed with their genuine faith and courage.
“We challenged fear with the joy of faith,” he said. “Maybe someone will ask: how is it possible to live like this? The reason is simple – because we love our faith, and we want to be always faithful whatever the price we pay. The price we have paid is very great and deals with thousands of martyrs throughout history, and still to this very day, our blood is still being spilled. The Christian faith has become part of our identity, so we don’t distinguish between faith and our human identity... Faith for us is not a religion but a way of life, and a journey that shapes and forms our reality for the whole of our life. Being Christians is what is important to us in the first place, not just what we have or possess.”
Faith and persecution
On 10 June 2014, 120,000 Christians from the Mosul area left and went to Northern Iraq. Things were tough, and churches opened their doors to help. Things are still tough, with some of these people still trying to establish a life there. But Archbishop Nona spoke about the power of faith to overcome these challenges.
“Terrorists are well aware that the implanting of fear in others helps them to stay and do what they want in the war. So our weapon as Christians is to live without fear and showing them that we love life, and that we do everything to live well, and will never give up this form or way of life. I know one thing from my experience having lived in Mosul – the Christian faith is the solution. It is possible to fight fear in courage with the declaration of our faith...”
He continued: “Is there a future for Christians in these areas? The question is complex and difficult to answer. However, if it is easy, then the vast majority of people want to leave those areas and migrate out of Iraq because they have lost confidence in everything... With all this, we still believe there will remain some Christians in certain areas such as northern Iraq, which is somewhat safer than the rest of the country. What is important in all this is the Christian faith. Our faithful do not want to leave their faith and therefore they prefer to emigrate rather than stay and have their freedom of faith and expression of it constrained or limited. Our land, for us, is where it is possible for us to live our faith.”
Archbishop Nona left the boys with a quote from a fourth-century patriarch who was martyred by beheading. It was from a song he made up as they prepared him for death by taking his clothes; and it is still sung today: “even if you are stripped of your outer clothes, do not take off your inner clothes, dear baptised faithful...”
College Event news
May 23, 2018
Prof Geoff Crisp - UNSW’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor on making a difference
On Wednesday 11 April 2018, the boys of Warrane College heard from UNSW’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) himself – Professor Geoff Crisp. A distinguished chemist, he has been in the role since 2016, where he plays a leadership part in the development and implementation of the educational components of the UNSW 2025 Strategy. With numerous awards to his name, Crisp spoke to the boys about making a difference in whatever careers they were to undertake, and despite where they come from.
“It actually doesn’t matter where you start from,” Crisp said, telling the boys that he came from a low socioeconomic background; with parents who never finished school. “It’s where you set your sights, on where you want to go...”
Crisp’s journey to academia
It might have come as a surprise to the boys that Crisp had no real idea what he wanted to do after school. “I was lucky in one sense; I found school relatively easy... but that was partly because I was happy to work hard,” he told the boys. “The reason I went to university was not actually because I was thinking about what job I’d get afterwards, because I had absolutely no idea... In fact, getting a job wasn’t really a thing I was particularly interested in, and going to university. I went to university because I loved chemistry...”
Crisp attended the University of QLD for his undergraduate – a Bachelor of Science majoring in Chemistry and Pure Maths. “I loved doing chemistry because it enabled me to look around at the world and think about how things work and why things work – why things are the way they are, and why they aren’t some other way. And probably then is when I started thinking, well it’s all very nice being interested in chemistry, but what difference is that going to make to the world? ... And I must say at that stage I really did not know how I was going to make a difference. I didn’t know how I was going to join my passion for chemistry with how I might end up making a difference in the world.”
As he studied, he learnt to be open to trying new things and saying yes to things – he found this was a way to meet new people, and be presented with new opportunities. After doing his Honours, he wasn’t sure what was next, and his supervisor suggested doing a PhD next at ANU in Canberra, which he completed over the following three years. Still unsure what he wanted after this but passionate about research, he applied for a fellowship which took him to Germany. At age 28 he was back in Australia with his wife and three kids, and had to think about what job to settle into – he didn’t plan on being an academic but that’s where he ended up.
“One of the key lessons I learnt there was first off, have a goal, but make sure you’ve got a Plan B because not everything is going to work out exactly the way you think it will. Other opportunities will come up... Even if it doesn’t work out as you want, you’re going to learn something from it , you’re going to meet new people, you’re going to do other things, and it is actually going to open up other doors for you,” said Crisp.
Planning to make a difference
It soon became clear to the boys that Crisp’s main passion was making a difference. “I didn’t plan out everything in my life,” he said, “but one of the things I absolutely planned out was to make a difference... I think that’s what everyone has to do with their life: think about how you’re going to make a difference. This world should be a better place because you’ve been in it – and you’ve got to think about, what’s your part to make this world a better place. And look, even at 15 or 16, that’s what I was thinking...”
He went on: “When I was young...I used to read a lot. And I was quite an eclectic reader, so I used to read all sorts of things. And the thing that struck me about a lot of the classical writers was that they were writing to often change society or challenge society about some of the ways things are. And that had a big influence on me. So even though I ended up going down a science path, I was a very avid reader of art, of history, of social science – I loved all that... I still read a lot of history now, because I’m interested in why things ended up the way they are. So I guess...I was inspired by some of the relatively well-known classic writers who I thought were trying to put a mirror up to us sometimes, to say well, what am I doing to make a difference – what are we doing to make a difference?”
As for whether Crisp felt he could make a difference as an academic, the answer is yes. “To me universities are unique places,” he said. “They are unique places because they are places where people are given the permission to think; they’re given the permission to think big; but they’re also places where we can contest ideas - where we can contest the way things are. It’s where we can ask that question ‘why?’ Why do we do things this way? Why aren’t we doing it some other way? And that’s certainly what I’ve tried to do throughout my career; is to continually contest the way we do it. Now you can’t change everything, all the time, overnight. But what you can do is keep making those differences and keep contesting the way we do things...”
Crisp went on: “So what happened was, even though I started out in chemistry, I wanted to make a difference to my students and I wanted to teach better... So the path I’m on now is the path to actually try and make a difference to the whole university by making a difference to how we do things. So that’s really my job if you wonder what a Pro-Vice-Chancellor does – they just sit there working out how can we teach better, how can we have better facilities around the university for teaching, how can we put things in place that make it better for our students and our staff...”
In fact, it is UNSW’s zeal for making a difference that makes Crisp so happy to be there. “One of the really key things for me is that there are three platforms to our [UNSW’s] strategic plan. One is academic excellence, which is around teaching and research... Second one is about global impact. So this university doesn’t just see itself as Australian...this university sees itself as a world university and working on the world stage. So we actually want to make a difference to the world, not just to Sydney or not just to Australia... And the third thing, which is the particular thing that attracted me to UNSW, is the social responsibility...”
April 18, 2018
Do males need etiquette skills?
On Wednesday 21 March 2018, the young men of Warrane got a schooling in all things etiquette from the Founder and Director of the Australian School of Etiquette herself, Zarife Hardy. A nationally acclaimed etiquette coach, Hardy has specialised in this topic for over 25 years. In that time she has earned the loyalty of many high-profile clients and has facilitated hundreds of workshops Australia-wide.
So why etiquette? Isn’t this something more suited to ladies than men? Hardy cleared this up as she began her talk: “A lot of people don’t value the power, I guess, of having great etiquette skills. Because really, what etiquette means is how you make somebody feel in your presence. So it’s about making them feel comfortable, feel welcomed, feel happy to be with you... That’s what etiquette is all about.”
She told the boys how etiquette covered so many platforms – from the etiquette of how to open a door, to how to grocery shop, and how to go to the gym. Everything can be done in a more refined and polished manner; and she hoped to spend the evening going through a few things that might benefit the boys as they embark on their careers.
A bit of Hardy’s background
Hardy did the June Dally-Watkins program when she was 16 years old. This was an etiquette program by the woman who started Australia’s first etiquette school, and Hardy just loved it. After school, she spent some time teaching this program in three different Australian states.
Next up for Hardy was a career detour, where she went to Hong Kong as the fit model for Esprit. She climbed the ladder and learnt about fabric, style, design and more; before heading to London where studied an incredibly powerful tool: voice, and articulation. Following this she ended up in Manhattan working for Etiquette Outreach, after which she returned to Australia and took some time off to have kids. But when a friend mentioned to her the need for professional image and etiquette education, she took her skills to market and within two years found herself with clients such as KPMG and Hyundai.
What was clear was the fact that etiquette skills were needed – people were getting stuck in middle management and struggling to get that little bit further. And Hardy wanted to make it clear that etiquette wasn’t about turning everyone into clones, but rather about being your sincere self, but the best version who stood a little taller. “Little things with huge impact make people believe in you more. Because I’m sure we’ve all met that one person where we walk away and think wow, I really liked talking to him, or gee I really enjoyed talking to her. And it’s generally because they have good etiquette skills – they make you feel good in their presence,” she said.
How to make a good first impression
“So unfortunately, every day of our life, when we meet someone new, or we go somewhere new, we are judged,” said Hardy. “You’ve actually all done it tonight with me – you’ve made a decision... whatever you’ve thought, you’ve thought of something about me. We do it instinctually to feel safe when we go somewhere. So research shows that 55% of our first impression of somebody is visual...38% is the tone and the quality of your voice – not the words that you are saying. And the last 7% is actually what you are talking about. So 93% of our communication is considered to be non-verbal. So it’s great to have all this wonderful knowledge in your brain, but if you can’t present it in a polished manner, then you’re missing out on three quarters of your opportunities.”
The first tip she had for the boys: posture and sitting up straight. “Because there is nothing worse than speaking to someone who’s all slouch, or who shuffles into the room like they don’t want to be there,” she said. “Posture also changes how we feel in our brain. By immediately standing taller we feel more confident, we look more confident...it instantly changes the way your brain feels which changes the way your body feels. So please don’t underestimate it... it doesn’t just look good, it has huge purpose and meaning and strength. It also helps us breathe better so we’re more alert... our brain absorbs more. So posture has a great overall effect on everything.”
Next up was eye contact. “We do not trust someone when they do not look us in the eye,” Hardy told the boys. “When someone doesn’t look you in the eye, there are a thousand things that start racing through the brain. Eye contact builds trust...We should be maintaining eye contact about 75% of the time.” She explained to the boys about the subliminal messages that eye contact can send to the other person’s brain – for example looking down repeatedly shows fear, while looking to the side too much could make one appear disinterested.
The third tip was to smile! “What does a smile show?” asked Hardy. “Happy! I’m friendly! I’ll talk to you! I’m safe! ... Enter a room or a new occasion with a smile on your face.”
After that, Hardy spoke about the importance of a handshake. “Our handshake releases so much information about ourselves. I’m sure you’ve all shaken someone’s hand and thought ‘ooh – wet, weak, sloppy’. And we have a very different opinion of somebody,” she said. “So let me tell you something else very interesting about a handshake. A handshake equates to three hours of face-to-face communication. Simply because when we shake somebody’s hand, or we touch somebody that’s wanted, it releases a lovely chemical called oxytocin. It makes us feel good. So it generally takes three hours of communication to get that feel-good chemical... So please shake hands... and get into the habit of introducing yourself and use your full name – it sets a lovely formal polished tone.”
Fifth on the list of first impression tips was micro-expressions. “Micro-expressions are small expressions that we need to receive from people to feel that they are listening to us,” explained Hardy. “So maybe it’s a little nod of the head. Maybe it’s raising the eyebrows. It might even be a micro-sound like ‘aah’ or ‘mm-hmm’... Use your micro-expressions, even if you’re not interested. It at least shows that you are a genuine, good, kind person.”
And last of all, Hardy talked about being frame to frame with another person. “If you are speaking to someone and you want to be very connected to them – this may help if you are meeting someone to go for an interview or something – make sure you are frame to frame. So my shoulders are equal to your shoulders, my toes are pointing at you. We are connected,” she said.
“You have seven seconds to create a great first impression... So don’t miss an opportunity simply because you’ve just had a bad day!”
The art of conversation
In the Q&A session following her talk, Hardy had more gems for the boys. She spoke on the art of conversation, and encouraged the boys to practice with each other at dinnertimes – reminding them that we don’t just come to the table to eat but to engage as well. Life skills are learnt at the table and relationships are built at the table!
“Make sure that you ask open-ended questions, so something they can give you a good response to. The second thing that I recommend is that you ask questions that make people think... One of the best questions I like is: ‘So what’s been the highlight of your day today?’” she suggested. “Probably the next most important thing in conversation is we don’t listen to the reply. We’re often so busy thinking about the next question that we don’t actually listen to what they’re saying... Listen to what the reply is, and ask a question from the reply, not from another question that you’ve got in your back pocket.”
Hardy continued: “Please don’t be a conversationalist that gives yes / no / maybe answers, because those are people that others don’t want to talk to. Try to give at least a sentence. The art of conversation is to get to a level where we’re both talking, not asking questions.” She also suggested avoiding going into detail on certain topics, such as politics, religion and your pet hobby (because it might be so specific that others might not be keen want to hear about it).
She finished off: “Presentation and polish is power... so don’t underestimate details in everything that you do.”
March 28, 2018
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