Creative Thinking: 21/12/2012!

Updated 22 December 2012
0

Creative Thinking: 21/12/2012!

It's here, at last! So many prophesies have been cast, so many books have been written, so many lectures have been given on this topic, the Winter Solstice 2012. What can we believe about the forecast of “Doomsday” (one of the many interpretations of the end of the Mayan Calendar)? I have always found this subject interesting and I believe that everybody should be aware of it because it actually concerns us all, mankind and life on the planet in general. It is a topic that should be looked at with eyes wide open, with an alert mind, a little logic, some intuition and a deep feeling.
No one can deny that great changes have being taking place for quite some time and — it’s evident — at a greater speed than before. Such changes are happening all over the world and concern the physical/material level as well as the spiritual/psychological one. We keep on hearing about floods and earthquakes more often than in previous years, climate and temperature are behaving in a most unusual way. Many things seem to have lost their balance.
The minds of too many human beings are totally immersed in a technological world that separates them more and more from reality, from positive feelings, from proper interaction. Furthermore, on an almost daily basis do we hear about scandals concerning corruption, betrayals, pedophilia, frauds, larceny and torture, shootings… Yes, yes, all these crimes have always existed. But, now, they seem to have become a daily news here, there and everywhere.
Mankind is unhappy, dissatisfied, more aggressive than ever and the result is a dreadful turmoil that shakes the world from its foundations. Einstein said that the Earth’s axis will tilt and some remarkable consequences might be felt. Well, no one is considered a “prophet” here and now, and most dismiss such considerations as idle. “Doomsday”? Hard to say if it will or if won’t happen. TODAY is 21/12/2012 and, if you are reading these lines, it means that — at least up to this very moment — we are still alive, the world still exists and it has evidently not come to an end. But, probably, this is not even the really important point. I am deeply convinced that mankind has reached a stage in its existence where self-examination and self-assessment are of paramount importance. We must all find out what our true values are, what our true motivations are, what “life” means to us, what aspirations we are sheltering in our hearts, what we are willing to “do”. No one can afford to move forward with their eyes metaphorically closed. “Awareness” is be the new word/motto to which every human being should be encouraged to found his or her life upon. We need a huge leap into a new perspective, into a new way of perceiving reality, into a novel understanding of the real place each of us has in the economy of the Universe. Time has come to make meaningful changes. And we must do it, NOW! The survival of the world is, literally, in our hands.


San Francisco restaurants open kitchens to refugee chefs

Updated 24 June 2018
0

San Francisco restaurants open kitchens to refugee chefs

  • The Refugee Food Festival started in Paris in 2016 and came to the US for the first time this year
  • The program lets refugees aspiring to be chefs work in professional kitchens

SAN FRANCISCO: At San Francisco’s Tawla restaurant, Muna Anaee powdered her hands with flour and gently broke off a piece of golden dough to prepare bread eaten in Iraq, the country she fled with her family.
Anaee was preparing more than 100 loaves for diners Wednesday night as part of a program that lets refugees aspiring to be chefs work in professional kitchens.
The Refugee Food Festival — a joint initiative of the United Nations Refugee Agency and a French nonprofit, Food Sweet Food — started in Paris in 2016 and came to the US for the first time this year, with restaurants in New York participating as well. The establishments’ owners turn over their kitchens to refugee chefs for an evening, allowing them to prepare sampling platters of their country’s cuisine and share a taste of their home.
Restaurants in 12 cities outside the US are taking part in the program this month.
“It’s been a big dream to open a restaurant,” said Anaee, 45, who now has a green card.
Anaee was among five refugees chosen to showcase their food in San Francisco — each at a different restaurant and on a different night, from Tuesday through Saturday. Organizers say the goal is to help the refugees succeed as chefs and raise awareness about the plight of refugees worldwide.
It’s important to “really get to know these refugees and their personal stories,” said Sara Shah, who brought the event to California after seeing it in Belgium.
Anaee and her husband and two children left Baghdad in 2013 over concerns about terrorism and violence. She worked as a kindergarten teacher in Iraq, not a chef, but was urged to pursue cooking as a career by peers in an English class she took in California after they tasted some of her food.
Azhar Hashem, Tawla’s owner, said hosting Anaee was part of the restaurant’s mission to broaden diners’ understanding of the Middle East — a region that inspires some of its dishes.
“Food is the best — and most humanizing — catalyst for having harder conservations,” she said.
The four other aspiring chefs serving food in San Francisco are from Myanmar, Bhutan, Syria and Senegal.
Karen Ferguson, executive director of the Northern California offices of the International Rescue Committee, said San Francisco was a good city for the food festival.
“We have so much diversity, and we see the evidence of that in the culinary expertise in the area,” she said.
The Bay Area has a high concentration of refugees from Afghanistan, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Eritrea and Burma, though exact numbers are unclear, according to the rescue committee. Its Oakland office settled more than 400 refugees in the Bay Area last year, but the number of refugees settling in the region has fallen dramatically since the Trump administration this year placed a cap on arrivals, Ferguson said.
Pa Wah, a 41-year-old refugee from Myanmar, presented dishes at San Francisco’s Hog Island Oyster Co. on Tuesday. She said she didn’t consider a career in cooking until she moved to California in 2011 and got her green card.
Cooking was a means of survival at the Thailand refugee camp where she lived after escaping civil conflict in Myanmar as a child. Participating in the food festival showed her the challenges of running a restaurant, but also helped her realize she was capable of opening her own, she said.