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YouTube // Sesame Street International Social Impact
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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iStock
China Launches Crowdfunding Campaign to Restore the Great Wall
iStock
iStock

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]

Know of something you think we should cover? Email us at tips@mentalfloss.com.

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YouTube // Deep Look
These Glowing Worms Mimic Shining Stars
YouTube // Deep Look
YouTube // Deep Look

The glow worms of New Zealand's Waitomo caves produce light, mimicking the starry night sky. Using sticky goop, they catch moths and other flying creatures unfortunate enough to flutter into the "starry" cavern. Beautiful and icky in equal parts, this Deep Look video takes you inside the cave, and up close with these worms. Enjoy:

There's also a nice write-up with animated GIFs if you're not in the mood for video. Want more glow worms? Check out this beautiful timelapse in a similar cave, or our list of 19 Places You Won't Believe Exist topped by—you guessed it—New Zealand's Glowworm Caves!

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