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Can food change the way people feel about refugees?

Refugee chefs from 25 countries participated in this year's Refugee Food Festival.

For 15 days in June, some of the world's greatest refugee chefs played host to more than 10,000 diners during the second annual Refugee Food Festival.

80 chefs of 25 different nationalities showcased a wide range of dishes highlighting their culture and culinary skills. The big event was an even bigger success than last year, taking stage in 84 restaurants across six European countries. During the festival, each restaurant added new dishes to their regular dining menus and worked with the chefs to create truly unique dining experiences for their guests.

[rebelmouse-image 19529989 dam="1" original_size="750x500" caption="The card reads: "Now more than ever we need to stand with refugees. Add your name to the #WithRefugees petition to send a clear message to governments that they must act with solidarity and shared responsibility." Photo by Janou Zoet/UNHCR." expand=1]The card reads: "Now more than ever we need to stand with refugees. Add your name to the #WithRefugees petition to send a clear message to governments that they must act with solidarity and shared responsibility." Photo by Janou Zoet/UNHCR.


The festival wants to use the power of food to help change people's perceptions of refugees.

The Refugee Food Festival is the product of French non-governmental organization Food Sweet Food and the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR). Together, they hope to change public perception of refugees, help refugees integrate into the local workforce, and encourage new experiences and interests in other cultures.

"None of us decides where to get born, so it is fundamental to remember the values of welcome and integration, which are strategic values ​​to build the future of our society," said Oscar Farinetti, the founder of Eataly, one of the participating restaurant chains, in an interview with the U.N.

Somali chef Hassan Hassan meets with diners. Photo by Yorgos Kyvemitis/UNHCR.

Mission aside, however, the food just looked pretty dang good.

In Lyon, France, chef Mohammad Elkhaldy, a refugee from Syria, offered up some mouth-watering Syrian dishes.

Elkhaldy at Substrat restaurant. Photo by Benjamin Loyseau/UNHCR.

Photo by Benjamin Loyseau/UNHCR.

Sri Lankan chef Nitharshini Mathyalagan added a number of her home dishes to the menu at Paris' Lulu la Nantaise during the festival.

Mathyalagan in Paris. Photo by Benjamin Loyseau/UNHCR.

Photo by Benjamin Loyseau/UNHCR.

Ifrah Daha prepared a Somali "healthy meal" for guests at Les Filles in Belgium.

Daha with diners at Les Filles. Photo by Bea Uhart/UNHCR.

Photo by Bea Uhart/UNHCR.

Syrian chef Wesal helped revamp the brunch menu over at Madrid's Elektra.

Wesal meets with diners. Photo by Jane Mitchell/UNHCR.

Photo by Jane Mitchell/UNHCR.

And at It Restaurant in Athens, Greece, Reza Golami served up authentic Afghan cuisine.

Afghan chef Reza Golami in the kitchen of It. Photo by Yorgos Kyvernitis/UNHCR.

Afghan dish man tou. Photo by Yorgos Kyvernitis/UNHCR.

According to the UNHCR, as of June 2017, as many as 65.6 million people have been forced from their homes worldwide,with 22.5 million of them claiming refugee status. A 2016 Pew Research poll found that more than half of Americans believe that the U.S. does not have a responsibility to take in refugees — and that's a problem shared by a number of other countries.

The truth is that without help from welcoming countries, many refugees may never truly find a home again. To help them, it's important to tackle the public opinion problem, and events like the Refugee Food Festival are great ways to do that.

Visit the Refugee Food Festival and UNHCR websites for more information on how you can help refugees.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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You could say Marine biologist, divemaster and National Geographic Explorer Dr. Erika Woolsey is a bit of a coral reef whisperer, one who brings her passion for ocean science to folks on dry land in a fresh, innovative and fun new way using virtual reality.

Images courtesy of Meta’s Community Voices film series

Her non-profit, The Hydrous, combines science, design, and technology to provide one-of-a-kind experiential education about marine life. In 2018, Hydrous produced “Immerse 360”, a virtual underwater journey through the coral reefs of Palau, with Dr. Woolsey as a guide.

Viewers got to swim with sharks, manta rays and sea turtles while exploring gorgeous aquatic landscapes and learning about the crucial role our oceans play—all from 360° and 3D footage captured by VRTUL 2 underwater storytelling VR cameras.


Hydrous then expanded on the idea to develop two more exciting augmented adventures using Meta Quest 2 technology: “Expedition Palau,” a live event where audiences can share a “synchronized immersive reality experience”, which includes live narration from Woolsey, and “Explore,” a “CGI experience” to enjoy the magic of the ocean at home.


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“I’ve been extremely fortunate to explore and study coral reefs around the world,” Woolsey said, sharing that it was “heartbreaking” to see these important habitats decay so rapidly while the latest scientific reports did not clearly lead to widespread compassionate action.

“How do we care about something we never see or experience?” she reflected. As she discovered, virtual reality would be a powerful solution for eliciting empathy. “VR has the ability to generate presence and agency and make you feel like you’re there. It's that emotional connection that can bridge scientific discovery and public understanding”

The combination of virtual reality and the ocean’s natural breathtaking beauty is, as Woolsey puts it, a “match made in heaven” for getting people more engaged in ocean education. “When you’re floating you can look up and down and all around you…seeing a school of fish surrounding you and reefs in these cathedral-like structures. Rather than watching a video of a scientist, you get to become the scientist.”

Hydrous also has special kits to provide middle school students hands-on learning about ocean life. In addition to a journal, activity cards and a smartphone VR viewer, each kit includes lifelike 3D printed model pieces of a coral reef so that middle school students can try building their own.

These reef models even turn white when temperatures rise inside the aquarium, which mimics the real “bleaching” that corals endure when they die due to higher than normal ocean temperatures. Students really do become scientists as they figure out how to bring color back to their reef.

While it’s true that the health of our oceans affects us all, the growing threats our oceans face—pollution, overfishing, climate change—don’t always affect us on an empathetic level. Through the use of technology, Woolsey has created an innovative way to connect hearts and minds to one of the Earth’s most important resources, which can inspire real and lasting change.

“We can’t bring everybody to the ocean, but we’re finding scalable ways to bring the ocean to everyone.”

To learn more about Hydrous, click here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


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