Sawsan Bawadekji

Aleppo’s cuisine is known for its complex flavors, created by a mix of spices, aromatic oils, and various fruits used in cooking. Sawsan was born and raised in this Syrian city, where she learned to cook from her mother, making traditional Aleppine dishes such as kibbeh and stuffed vegetables.

Sawsan studied Education Sciences at the university and went on to become an elementary school teacher and school supervisor. Once she married and moved to Idlib, where her husband is from, and settled into a comfortable life — she enjoyed cooking for her growing family and was very active in her community. This changed once Sawsan moved to Turkey with her son and daughter in 2011. It was a difficult transition: she no longer had the close connections and community that she did in Syria, she didn’t speak Turkish, and she felt like an outsider for being a refugee. During her time in the LIFE Project — learning next to people from many backgrounds, sitting at the same table, and sharing a meal — she was able to rebuild a network for herself. Today she feels more confident in her ability to communicate and integrate into the Turkish community.

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