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UNHCR News Story: Youngsters humbled by UNHCR reality exercise at World Scout Jamboree
Scouts from around the world take part in UNHCR's virtual reality exercise. UNHCR/ K.Rodriguez Norman/ July 2011 Youngsters humbled by UNHCR reality exercise at World Scout Jamboree RINKABY, Sweden, August 5 (UNHCR) – Hundreds of young people taking part in the world's biggest gathering of Scouts have taken time out this week from the camping, cooking, singing and field craft to learn what it's like to be forced from your home and made to flee for your life. About 1,000 of the 40,000 children and adults attending the 2011 World Scout Jamboree in Rinkaby, Sweden, got to experience the life of a refugee by talking part in "Passages," a virtual reality exercise developed by the UN refugee agency. It was a sobering and educational experience that taught them about the trauma suffered by millions of forcibly displaced people around the world, including, in some cases, their own countries. "At times I felt so scared that I had to remind myself that this was only a game," said Nick Than from Malaysia. Fifty people take part in each run of Passages. They are grouped in "families" and assigned roles. Bill, a middle-aged Canadian Scout leader, got to play a two-year-old boy. He said he had always thought of refugees as being adults, but "now I got to understand what such a fate does to the little ones." The players in Passages start off by experiencing what it is like for civilians caught in a military attack on their town or village. Blindfolded, the young Scouts taking part had to find their family members among the shouts and screams, the crackle of gunfire and explosions. They then fled to a forest, hiding from their assailants. On their run to safety, the "family members" are robbed of their possessions, hear the sounds of a simulated rape and then pass the body of a virtual victim covered in blood. Before reaching the safety of a UNHCR camp, they have to cross a national border and try to communicate with gun-toting frontier guards (played by UNHCR staff and Scout leaders) who do not speak their language. Refugees are legally defined as people who flee from their country to another, as opposed to internally displaced people who flee from their home to another part of their country. Props provided by the Swedish army, including weapons and uniforms, add to the realism. UNHCR has a long history of cooperation with the World Scout movement aimed at sensitizing young people to the plight of refugees. This year's Jamboree has been packed with activities, but UNHCR's Passages has been one of the most popular. Youngsters queued for hours to take part and those who did participate will tell their friends and families about what they learned. Several national Scouts movements said they would like to introduce Passages in their countries, while some of the adults asked if they could include it during corporate retreats and team-building exercises. For Azra, a former refugee who now lives in Slovenia, this was much more than a game. "I played Passages with my best friends and now I can finally share with them what I had to go through. Now they will understand me better." The World Scout Jamboree is held every four years. At this year's event, which opened on July 27 and ends on Monday, UNHCR also staffed an information booth were visitors could tour a refugee tent, taste high nutrition food and take part in a quiz. UNHCR bracelets, posters and lanyards for ID cards were handed out for free. By Melita H. Sunjic and Jessica Pafs in Rinkaby, Swedenthe lure of pumpkin cookies and apple cider
I admit that I love baking. I think I'd do it every day if I had the money and enough people to eat the goods. ;-) It wasn't always that way... I grew up helping my dad more than my mom, as in those days I would have rather been outside with the animals - watching baby piglets be born, racing around the yard with the dog, playing games that involved spears and nunchucks with my brother (yes, I just referred to my brother as an animal... haha). But once I hit college and veterinary school, I found myself enamored with the process of baking: the recipes, the careful combination of ingredients, the smell of cookies and cakes in the oven, and, best of all, the delighted and occasionally impressed faces of my friends as they took their first bite. Let me also say that I don't have the same relationship with cooking. That is still a chore, though I manage to do it fairly well now. In any case, this is a recipe that should be shared, because these are perfect fall cookies - pumpkin. They are light and fluffy and moist, almost like a cakey cookie, and they pair up wonderfully with apple cider. So, here you have it. I usually double the recipe so that I have enough to give away. Pumpkin Cookies 1/2 cup margarine (1 stick, softened) 1 cup sugar 1 cup canned pumpkin 1 egg 2 cups flour 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp nutmeg 1 tsp baking powder Combine margarine, sugar, pumpkin and egg. Beat until fluffy. Combine all dry ingredients, add to wet, beat until blended. Drop by teaspoons onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-15 minutes. (Be careful, and pull them out before the bottoms start to brown up too much.) Frosting 3 tablespoons butter/margarine 3 cups powdered sugar 3-4 tablespoons of milk 1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla Combine butter, sugar and milk in bowl and beat, adding more milk if needed to make desired consistency. Add vanilla at end. And there you have it. For the double batch I use just one whole can of pumpkin, even though there's only about 1 3/4 cups in a whole can, and it turns out fine. Because of the frosting the cookies tend to stick together if you pile them in a container, so it's best to keep them in the fridge if you do that. Oh, and of course you can add things to them, like chocolate chips or nuts or raisins, but I prefer the pure fluffy texture of an unaltered cookie. Enjoy!
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