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YouTube // Sesame Street International Social Impact

Sesame Street Introduces First Afghan Muppet: Zari

YouTube // Sesame Street International Social Impact
YouTube // Sesame Street International Social Impact

The Afghan version of Sesame Street just got a new Muppet: Zari. Announced on Friday, Zari is an Afghan girl who joins Baghch-e-Simsim, the co-production of Sesame Street in Afghanistan. ("Baghch-e-Simsim" translates as "Sesame Garden," and "Zari" means "shimmering" in Dari and Pashto.)

Zari is a six-year-old girl, and she'll be featured in segments that focus on topics like "girls’ empowerment, national identity, physical health, and social and emotional wellbeing," according to a press statement from the Sesame Workshop. Some early segments focus on exercise, local greeting customs, and interviews with her doctor. "Debuting a confident, inquisitive, and sweet Afghan girl character is a perfect opportunity to engage both boys and girls with lessons supporting girls' empowerment and diversity appreciation as we aim to help all children in Afghanistan grow smarter, stronger, and kinder," said Sherrie Westin, executive vice president of global impact and philanthropy with the Sesame Workshop.

As Baghch-e-Simsim enters its fifth season, Zari marks a major milestone for the local show. Baghch-e-Simsim is already tremendously popular with local kids, and it's the most-watched program among young children in Afghanistan, according to the Sesame Workshop. As its first native character, Zari's segments will join those featuring other Muppets, and her message (especially encouraging girls' education) is intended to reach children and families throughout the country. In Afghanistan, nearly a third of young children are not in school; the Sesame Workshop hopes that Zari, and the entirety of Baghch-e-Simsim, can help change that. Supporting that goal, Zari is carefully designed to be "universal," with an appearance that's not tied to a single ethnic group.

For more on how Sesame Street makes its global co-productions, check out the 2006 documentary The World According to Sesame Street. For more mental_floss coverage of Sesame Street, here are some highlights: The Sweetest Sesame Street Moment; Sesame Street Introduces Julia, a New Character With Autism; 13 Sesame Street Muppets That Make a Difference; and The Names of 34 International Sesame Street Co-Productions.

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8 City Maps Rendered in the Styles of Famous Artists
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Vincent van Gogh once famously said, "I dream my painting and I paint my dream." If at some point in his career he had dreamed up a map of Amsterdam, where he lived and derived much of his inspiration from, it may have looked something like the one below.

In a blog post from March, Credit Card Compare selected eight cities around the world and illustrated what their maps might look like if they had been created by the famous artists who have roots there.

The Andy Warhol-inspired map of New York City, for instance, is awash with primary colors, and the icons representing notable landmarks are rendered in his famous Pop Art style. Although Warhol grew up in Pittsburgh, he spent much of his career working in the Big Apple at his studio, dubbed "The Factory."

Another iconic and irreverent artist, Banksy, is the inspiration behind London's map. Considering that the public doesn't know Banksy's true identity, he remains something of an enigma. His street art, however, is recognizable around the world and commands exorbitant prices at auction. In an ode to urban art, clouds of spray paint and icons that are a bit rough around the edges adorn this map of England's capital.

For more art-inspired city maps, scroll through the photos below.

[h/t Credit Card Compare]

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China Launches Crowdfunding Campaign to Restore the Great Wall
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The Great Wall of China has been standing proudly for thousands of years—but now, it needs your help. CNN reports that the wall has fallen into disrepair and the China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation has launched an online crowdfunding campaign to raise money for restorations.

Stretching 13,000 miles across northern China, the Great Wall was built in stages starting from the third century BCE and reaching completion in the 16th century. To some degree, though, it’s always been under construction. For centuries, individuals and organizations have periodically repaired and rebuilt damaged sections. However, the crowdfunding campaign marks the first time the internet has gotten involved in the preservation of the ancient icon. The China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation is trying to raise $1.6 million (11 million yuan) to restore the wall, and has so far raised $45,000 (or 300,000 yuan).

Fundraising coordinator Dong Yaohui tells the BBC that, although the Chinese government provides some funds for wall repairs, it’s not enough to fix all of the damage: "By pooling the contribution of every single individual, however small it is, we will be able to form a great wall to protect the Great Wall," he said.

[h/t CNN]

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