In early April, a group of Jackson undergrads teamed up with local nonprofit Sanctuary Kitchen for a night of Syrian cooking, food, and conversation. Horchow Hall was transformed into kitchen and dining room for the night, drawing many attendees from all across the Yale community.
Sanctuary Kitchen, formed in 2017 as a part of New Haven nonprofit Cityseed, works to celebrate the traditions, culture, and stories of resettled refugees and immigrants in Connecticut. “Refugees and immigrants arrive here with the potential to contribute their own unique skills and passions to the diverse and changing face of the Greater New Haven Area. Sanctuary Kitchen seeks to highlight these skills in economically viable culinary pursuits that provide personal income potential, while promoting their culinary traditions, cultures, and stories to improve understanding and appreciation throughout our community.”
The cooking demonstration was led by Randa, a Syrian refugee and New Haven resident, who, with a few Yale students as assistants, showed attendees how to make some of her favorite dishes, such as Mahammara dip, a red pepper based spread, and Basbousa, a semolina cake. The event concluded with a traditional Syrian dinner, including some of the dishes that Randa had demonstrated.
One of the organizers, Jackson undergrad Aaminah b’Hat, came to know the founder of Sanctuary Kitchen through a coincidence of ambitions—b’Hat is co-founder of Students of Salaam, which, among other efforts, works to engage the New Haven refugee community and celebrate tradition and culture through food, dance, and discussions. The two organizations’ missions made for a perfect partnership. “It was really beautiful see my friends interact with people beyond the Yale community,” says b’Hat. “I think it is incredibly important for Global Affairs, breaking the boundary between Yale and New Haven. They got to meet a little bit of New Haven along with a little bit of Syrian culture.”