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Arabic 'Sesame Street' to represent refugee children in 2020
A new children's program may help displaced Syrian children find stability and belonging in their new communities.
- Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee have partnered launch a Arabic version of Sesame Street named "Ahlan Simsim."
- The show will provide early learning education to refugee children who are robbed of their education when displaced from their communities.
- The show will include Arabic-speaking characters who are developed to "speak" to refugee children, providing psychologically beneficial media representation.
A new Sesame Street show in Arabic is being launched by to help Syrian refugee children, but the benefits may reach beyond helping displaced kids learn their ABCs.
Photo source: media.defense.gov
Earlier this month, Sesame Workshop (the educational nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street) and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) announced that they partnered up to launch a new program called "Ahlan Simsim," or "Welcome Sesame" in Arabic. The show is aimed at providing early learning education to refugee children who are robbed of their education when displaced from their communities.
According to the IRC, nearly half of the 12 million people who have been displaced due to the ongoing civil war in Syria are children. Yet, according to IRC president and CEO David Miliband in an interview on 60 Minutes, less than 2 percent of all funding for humanitarian aid goes to education.
Ahlan Simsim, which was locally-produced, will be aimed at children ages 3–8 and, according to Sesame Workshop.
The show will include Arabic-speaking characters who are developed to "speak" to refugee children. For example, one of the main characters on the Arabic Sesame Street is Jad, a young muppet, is new to the neighborhood and it is implicated that he is a refugee. In a 60 Minutes clip from one of the episodes he says "My toy is not with me. I left it behind in my old home when I came here." Additional characters include a muppet girl named Basma who befriends Jad, a baby goat named Ma'zooza that follows them around, and, of course, appearances by beloved classic Sesame Street characters such as Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Grover.
The tragedy of displacement, which lasts on average 20 years, is particularly traumatizing for young children who can't fully grasp the situation they are caught in the middle of. This leaves violent cracks in the foundation of refugee children's lives, many of whom have witnessed the violent deaths of loved ones. The first season of Ahlan Simsim will aim to help children develop social-emotional coping tools such as belly breathing and counting to five, according to executive producer Scott Cameron.
But, the impact of Ahlan Simsim will likely do more than teach children what Cameron calls "emotional ABCs." Besides the trauma of an early childhood scarred by war violence, displaced children may experience social trauma in areas that they seek asylum. Daily stressors such as acculturation, economic insecurity, community violence, and stigma against refugees can be detrimental to child development and adjustment in a new community. Because children learn to understand themselves through a social lens, it's important to see images, characters, and role models in the media that are representative of one's experience and identity group.
Lack of representation can compound the isolation and identity disruption that displaced children experience. Not only have they been physically torn from their homes and communities, but they find themselves in situations where they perceive themselves as "different." By representing disadvantage, displaced children, Ahlan Simsim may help refugee children feel that they belong in their community, and inspire feelings of confidence and security. Additionally, Ahlan Simsim helps to abolish harmful stereotypes against refugee populations by portraying them in a positive light as part of the community.
Benefits of Early Multicultural Exposure
Early childhood media representation isn't just for the benefit of minority groups. By exposing viewers to less common cultures, programs like Ahlan Simsim help children acquire enhanced social skills, seek out diverse experiences later in life, and become more receptive to those who speak different languages than they are used to at home.
Children who are exposed to culturally diverse media may learn to become more comfortable with differences in race, religion, language, and lifestyle in real life. Research has even shown that exposure to diversity early in life can impact how successful children will become in adulthood. For instance, learning to work with others across categories of race or socioeconomic status sets children up for developing interpersonal skills that will give them an advantage later in life.
CNN reports that the first season of Ahlan Simsim is set to air locally across the Middle East in February 2020 and will be digitally available.
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Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Building a personal connection with students can counteract some negative side effects of remote learning.
- Not being able to engage with students in-person due to the pandemic has presented several new challenges for educators, both technical and social. Digital tools have changed the way we all think about learning, but George Couros argues that more needs to be done to make up for what has been lost during "emergency remote teaching."
- One interesting way he has seen to bridge that gap and strengthen teacher-student and student-student relationships is through an event called Identity Day. Giving students the opportunity to share something they are passionate about makes them feel more connected and gets them involved in their education.
- "My hope is that we take these skills and these abilities we're developing through this process and we actually become so much better for our kids when we get back to our face-to-face setting," Couros says. He adds that while no one can predict the future, we can all do our part to adapt to it.
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.