Syrian refugees share cuisine with NEPA

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Scranton, Lackawanna County (WBRE/WYOU) — Of the nearly five million Syrian refugees worldwide, hundreds have found a new home here in Pennsylvania. 

Some living in NEPA opened a restaurant for the day Saturday.  It’s the first “Global Taste of Scranton” event. Two Syrian refugees helped put the menu together at Terra Preta. 

“It was really like as if you were creating your own restaurant,” said Terra Preta’s co-owner, Patricia Dickert-Nieves.

It’s more than creating their own menu though. “Global Taste of Scranton” is a partnership between several different agencies in the “Electric City.” One of those is the University of Scranton’s office of community relations. Julie Schumacher Cohen is the director in that department.

“This is a way to help celebrate and welcome them and to help them integrate,” she said.

 There are two Syrian refugee families living in Scranton after escaping the war-torn region of the world. Syria’s been involved in a violent civil war since 2011. 

Millions have sought refuge around the world, but 31 governors in the United States have placed bans on Syrian refugees settling in their states. It’s not a ban Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf supports. 

According to the refugee resettlement program, since October 2014, more than 200 Syrians have settled in the Commonwealth. 

“They’re just trying to live in a safe place and find a community that’s welcoming so they can feel safe,” Dickert-Nieves said.

“They want to work hard,” Cohen said. “they want to be a part of the American society, so my advice would be to get to know some of our refugee neighbors.” 

Hundreds of people went to Terra Preta Saturday to try different Syrian dishes like Sambousek, fattoush and kibbeh. Proceeds from the day will benefit Catholic Social Services’ refugee resettlement program.

Also, for their work, the past several months, in making the “pop-up” restaurant, the refugee cooks will receive grant money from the University of Scranton.  

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