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Aessin Shikwana

Aessin was born in Iraq, where his family would spend the summers in Alqosh and rest of the year in Baghdad. His family came to America after the first Gulf War. Leaving their home was a difficult decision since they have very strong roots in Alqosh. Aessin’s family made it a point to keep the language thriving in their home. He is fluent in sureth and has recently learned how to read and write in sureth, as well. He is devoted to keeping his culture and language alive. He volunteers to speak the language with seminarians training to become priests, so they can perform mass in sureth.  

Aessin started getting involved in helping his people by volunteering in 2010 for the Iraqi elections by trying to get people to go out and vote. He then started volunteering with Shlama in 2016, when he saw all the positive impact Shlama was having on his brothers and sisters in Iraq. He was the first person to be invited to join the Shlama Board since the organization was founded.


In 2017, Aessin had the opportunity to visit Iraq for the first time since he left with his family in 1993. He absolutely loved spending time in Alqosh and reliving all his childhood memories. After that visit, he made a vow to visit Alqosh again at least once every year. He was able to visit again in 2018 for Easter. During that visit, he attended the Akitu parade in Nohudra (Duhok). 

Aessin can trace his ancestry for over 500 years to the famous priest and scribe, Israel "Rabi Rabba" Shikwana. His lineage in Alqosh consists of many famous priests and scribes in the Shikwana family. His great-great-uncle, Paul Shikwana, was a famous bacteriologist in London at the turn of the 20th century. He was asked by the residents of Iowa City, Iowa to help quell an outbreak of Typhoid in 1904. He came to the United States and lived in Iowa City for two years before his tragic death in a train accident in 1906.


Aessin is a Mechanical Engineer for an automotive supplier in the United States. He worked in his father’s store while pursuing his degree. His job has allowed him to travel to Japan several times, where he has eaten every type of food offered to him (feel free to ask him what kind of weird things he’s tried)! Aessin enjoys traveling and, especially, road trips. He was able to fulfill a lifelong dream of his by driving to California from Detroit several years ago. He also loves movies and trivia. 


Aessin dreams of having a safe place for suraye where they can thrive in their ancestral homeland, and working with Shlama has allowed him the opportunity to make this dream closer to reality.