After years of COVID-related shutdowns and complications, the world is reconnecting again. And by all accounts, humankind is not just ready for connection; we’re hungry for it.
For communities of refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants, connection has always been incredibly important. But after the bumps and bruises of the past few years, many people have realized that it’s essential for all of us.
Let’s learn how we can create more meaningful connections by looking at how food and food culture bring people together. Specifically:
But first, a quick reminder: the more you share, the more we can help refugees get connected in their local communities. So if you know of someone who would enjoy this newsletter, please send them a link or encourage them to subscribe.
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From Show Up to Startup
The needs of refugees, asylees, and immigrants are so vast and varied that even those with a great desire to help often don’t know where to begin.
That’s why we were especially inspired by a Cool Hunting article describing how meal-delivery platform Shef empowers immigrants and refugees. When founder Alvin Salehi recognized a great need, he wasn’t sure what to do next.
“I knew I needed to do something,” Salehi explains in the article. “I just didn’t know what it was.”
So what did he do? He started connecting— “attending meetings with immigrants and refugees, asking them what they needed in order to resettle in America.”
From this point of connection, the path forward appeared step by step.
Takeaway: when in doubt, don’t get overwhelmed. Just get connected.
Creating Meaningful Connections
Australia’s Parliament on King is a small café with a big heart for connection.
Often, the café and its facilities are used to train asylum seekers and refugees in the basics of hospitality—running and working in a café, barista skills, food preparation, food hygiene, service, and catering.
At its core, this organization’s mission is about facilitating connection as much as it’s about encouraging work-ready skills in refugees and asylum-seekers, who make dishes from their homeland “like they would for friends and family.”
Parliament on King has been running their program for years, trained over 200 people, and even won a humanitarian award for these efforts. But this quote from their charter reflects the guiding principle at the core of it all:
Everything we do is about creating meaningful social connections.Parliament on King Charter
What could possibly help people connect better than something sweet to eat?
Just ask Vian Alnidawi and Sara Nassr. This mother-daughter duo of exceptional cooks has gained a strong following since joining Comal Heritage Food Incubator in Denver—in no small part because they understand better than most that food is a powerful means of spurring connection and community.
Basbousa is just one of many delicious reasons to gather at their table.
For a bright twist on this Middle Eastern semolina cake flecked with coconut and soaked in a sweet syrup, Alnidawi and Nassr “soak their confection with a simple syrup flavored with a hint of lemon,” according to their featured recipe on Tasting Table. “You can also substitute a few splashes of rose or orange-blossom water for a more fragrant take.”
It’s a delightful final course for your next dinner party or a beautiful gift to deliver as you connect with new neighbors.
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