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UNHCR News Story: 1 Refugee Without Hope: Canada offers new life to desperate refugee
Pakistani refugee Muhammmed Zakaria handing over his family's passports to UNHCR's Severine Weber to process them for resettlement. They left China for Canada in May.
UNHCR/K. McKinsey / April 2011
1 Refugee Without Hope: Canada offers new life to desperate refugee
YANJIAO, China, June 15 (UNHCR) – Not many people can remember precisely what they were doing at 9:45 on Tuesday, March 1. Muhammmed Zakaria can: it was the first time in his life he was truly happy, the moment he got a phone call that transformed his life.
At the other end of the line was Severine Weber, UNHCR associate field officer in Beijing, telling the Pakistani refugee that seven long years of loneliness and despair were over and that he and four of his closest relatives were about to restart their lives in Canada.
As if in a dream, the 32-year-old bachelor walked back to the flat he shares with his parents and two younger sisters here, 45 km east of the Chinese capital, Beijing. When his mother opened the door, Zakaria burst into sobs and she feared that – for the fifth time – his resettlement application had been turned down.
Instead it was "happiness I had never had before, the biggest happiness in my life," Zakaria said before he and his family left last month for Toronto, Canada, where two married sisters live. "It's kind of a miracle."
Persecuted from childhood as a member of Pakistan's Ahmadi religious minority, Zakaria credited "first of all, God," and said his chance for a fresh start showed that "UNHCR's efforts and (our) prayers all came together."
In early 2004, Zakaria's family sent just him – the only son in a family with four daughters – to China after receiving death threats. He applied for asylum at UNHCR's Beijing office and received refugee status two months later.
Although China has acceded to the 1951 Refugee Convention, refugees are unable to settle permanently here, so the usual solution is for them to be resettled in third countries, a process that can take years.
Zakaria was grateful to China for giving him a safe haven, but he says there were many despondent moments. A near brush with deportation – when he and nine others were saved by UNHCR intervention – left him traumatized for two years. Alone, cut off from his family and religious community, he felt alienated from Chinese people who, he said, do not really understand who refugees are.
An international Christian church eventually provided his entree into Chinese society, offering him the opportunity to do volunteer work renovating an orphanage in Beijing. For a year and a half, this trained computer scientist did manual labour to make life better for Chinese babies and children.
He later volunteered at a Chinese kindergarten in Beijing. Zakaria taught English – he speaks five languages – and the children taught him Chinese, he says with a laugh. With his outgoing personality and fluent English, he became an informal leader for some 60 Ahmadi refugees living near the Chinese capital. He also volunteered as an interpreter and translator at UNHCR.
But after a lifetime of persecution, he did not always feel at ease in China. In 2008, UNHCR managed to find new homes abroad for a large number of refugees ahead of the Olympic Games. When Zakaria was not accepted by any country, he hit rock bottom and contemplated suicide.
"Think of how it feels," he said quietly. "All your friends are going for resettlement -
the ones who made me part of their family and served me nice food because they knew I had stomach problems. So I was all alone again. People who were here for 10 years got resettled, so why couldn't I go?"
But he wasn't alone – two other refugees, seeing he was suicidal, stayed by his side and nursed him through his lowest point. But his faith was shaken, and when family arrived in 2009, his father was horrified at the Zakaria he found.
"I sent my son here to be safe, not away from God," said his father. "I realized what he must have been through. We helped him build his belief again and are glad today he is back to his normal state."
The UN refugee agency believes that 1 Refugee Without Hope is Too Many. Zakaria was fortunate to have the support of his family and UNHCR's Weber. She took the unusual step of asking Canada to take a second look when she felt new facts had made his case for resettlement more convincing. "UNHCR's job is not only to protect refugees, but to give them a solution," she said. "That means the chance to live a normal life."
Zakaria is someone who particularly touched her: "He was born the same year as me. He is exactly two months younger, but has gone through so much more. It makes me think, why is he a refugee and I a UNHCR officer. Could it not be the reverse?"
As for Zakaria, he questioned why many host countries don't allow refugees to work when they have much to contribute and don't wan
500 word essay: vis129f
The feature of human beings which separates us from other animals is culture. Biology can tell us that we need nourishment but it is culture that tells us what is appropriate to eat and what is not. The semantics of language of specific societies also tell a lot about a culture – some terms have specific connotations for the culture to want to emphasize or de-emphasize certain aspects of the society. Just as in the case of visualizing cultural analytics, it shows how the culture of art history is trying to translate art through a new form of language. On one level, this is a speaking to the art community, and maybe the society as a whole, has taken.
One aspect of trying to analyze art pieces through means of graphs is to get information in an instantaneously. This is a clear reflection of our Information Society and the need to be as efficient as possible. A characteristic of Western society since the Industrial Revolution occurred in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Secondly, cultural analytics shows the importance of communicating information through means of visual aid rather than verbal/written language. There are no barriers of culture or semantics to exclude people from understanding, or going through the trouble of translating essays into different languages. By using graphs, it is a new form of analyzing culture for practically everyone to understand and make their own conclusions of. It is like a new art form in itself: one that can stand as a representation of an accumulation of past great works.
For example, the conclusions I made from my graphs are as follows:
In my “Variation in StDev Saturation Over Time in Denis' Paintings from 1889-1915” graph (FIG. A) depicting the change of standard deviation over time in Denis' paintings between 1889-1915. Standard Deviation can be defined as the square root of the variance between values. Saturation refers to the dominance of hue in the color. Therefore, the graph depicts the deviation of the saturation values between each set of paintings. From the graph, we can see that there are higher saturation values in the beginning (1889) and decrease as time goes by.
And with this information I was able to apply past art historical concepts to reasons to the regression:
Then in the “This is the saturation data for Maurice Denis that Prof. Manovich gave to us. The plot is kind of all over the place, but there does seem to be a linear regression as time goes by - meaning that the intensity of color in his paintings decreased as the years went by. This is definitely clear when comparing the 1889_1_Denis.jpg with the 1905_2_Denis.jpg file. A possible explanation for this is in the beginning, his paintings were very saturated because in the beginning his art focused on Christian-oriented art. He was very religious and may have used stronger oclors to convey the kind of meaning he felt towards his faith. In this case were very strong (we can see this in his vibrant painting of the crucifixion in 1890_1_Denis.jpg). The intensity of colors have decreased sometime after 1893-1896 because he is focusing on these women in white. I am still trying to find out what they are, but they seem to be in a sort of ritual - meaning that this is a time for celebration and festivities. As the saturation in the paintings decrease his subject matter tends to focus more and more on females. Maybe another reflection of his feelings towards his painting topics.
Another example of an art historical analysis of the graphs is in the “Number of nude Figures in Caravaggio and Denis’ Paintings Over Time” (FIG B), the conclusions I made from my graphs are as follows:
There is a pattern between Caravaggio's and Denis’ paintings are that Caravaggio has many more nude figures than in. This may be because in the 1600s many artists' primary art subjects were based on the Renaissance, the nude remained an essential focus of Western art. Whether embracing or refashioning classical ideals, artists from the seventeenth century to the present have privileged the nude form and made it an endlessly compelling means of creative expression.
In Baroque art (during Caravaggio's time), the continuing fascination with classical antiquity pressed artists to renew their approach to the nude and the antique tradition. However Denis has much fewer nude figures because he was more interested in modest-appearing women and scenery. Two of the 4 times there are nude women in his paintings are of a woman breast-feeding a child, the third case has Jesus Christ barely draped in cloth, and the fourth scenario is of 2 seems to be vaguely similar to Manet's Luncheon painting. So Denis may have been drawing the1891_2_Denis.jpg as product of inspiration.
And with this information I was able to apply past art historical concepts to reasons for the distinct differences:
Not only did artists during the Baroque age focus on the nude to reaffirm already praised ideals in mythological art. n the eighteenth an
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