The various projects with and for refugees are highly praised in the media, but much less talked about is how those said projects are received by those they are meant to support.
In this article, we asked Hadi Nisrini, Syrian hobby-cook from German Social Enterprise Über den Tellerrand kochen, to evaluate the project and discuss how it has impacted his life.
This article was originally published in October, 2015.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself!
I am Hadi Nisrini and I turn 26 years soon. I am from the very old Syrian city called Aleppo. It is my hometown and I really miss it. But right now I can only see Aleppo on pictures, as the situation over there is very, very horrible.
I used to be a Web designer and Web developer back home in Syria, and since I came here to Germany I found cooking to be my big hobby. I always loved cooking, it is a very joyful activity, where people come together and connect.
When and how did you get in touch with Über den Tellerrand?
It was a big coincidence actually! I was together with a friend of mine and someone called her asking if she knew someone who could cook some Syrian food that very day. She asked me, if I was up for it and I answered “Yes, of course! What shall I do?”. We directly met up with the Über den Tellerrand team, and I started cooking one of my favourite dishes. I had the feeling that everyone liked me, my food and the way I cook. I felt very welcomed and they asked me to come and join Über den Tellerrand activities again. That day they found me and that day also I really, really found them.
What changed for you since you joined the project?
When I had just arrived Germany I didn’t know anybody. Friends – I didn’t have any friends here. Even the people I suddenly lived with, I didn’t know them and we were just starting to get to know each other. When I entered the Über den Tellerrand Community, it felt like stepping through a huge door to meet wonderful people. All of them are wonderful, nice, awesome, talented people. After all the struggle I felt very happy about that feeling “hey, I know that girl, and hey, I know that guy, too!”! And I just have great friends right now from this project.
What would you do differently if you were to manage a project like Über den Tellerrand?
I would definitely keep this wonderful idea! For the cooking classes I would wish for even more connection and exchange, though.
When I do a cooking class, I am showing everyone how I cook and the participants are helping me. I would also like to learn about the participants’ ideas and motivate them to be creative with the ingredients. Maybe I can give the same ingredients I cook my recipe with to the participants and see what everyone comes up with, to also learn to cook their way.
I would like that exchange of recipes and ideas.
What are your wishes for the future?
For now I really wish to get all my papers done. Then, my next step will definitely include to continue cooking and getting grip in Germany with my profession as a web designer and developer.
And actually I would really like to start a family soon and have a calm life without all the chaos around me – these are all the wishes I think of right now.