We had the good fortune of connecting with Sophie Danielson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sophie, how does your business help the community?
We develop contextualized learning materials for refugees and marginalized communities. We’re a group of content creators dedicated to bridging the learning gap in areas where education is disrupted. We have a simple goal: provide representation through cartoonization. Everyone likes cartoons, especially the ones that look like them. Contextualized learning can create a more engaging, inclusive environment. Since 2018, our primary focus has been on the Rohingya community in Bangladesh — a persecuted ethnic minority that was forced to flee their home country, Myanmar, after military violence pushed them out. We came in to provide inclusive informal learning materials for both the literate and illiterate. Whatever they need, we build it. Picture dictionaries, flashcards, posters, coloring books, animations, children’s stories, and more. We are continuing to produce materials for communities whose education has been disrupted in the hopes of encouraging informal learning.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
There is a huge lack of contextualized learning materials in refugee camps. We strive to solve this problem by working directly with local educators to produce fully contextualized, culturally sensitive learning materials. We’re a team of content creators dedicated to bringing more cartoons into this world through books, animations, posters, children’s stories, etc. Working in different cultures definitely brings up some challenges. We try to be as culturally sensitive as possible in the products we create — which can be tricky at times when we receive varying pieces of feedback. We’re learning more and more each day. From fixing our business model to completely pivoting during the COVID pandemic, it’s never a dull moment. Our goal is to become the go-to curriculum designers for refugees around the world.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Without a doubt, I would hit up Urban Burma, my friend’s Burmese restaurant in Aurora. After spending some time with Burmese friends, I’ve become quite the Burmese food guru. Urban Burma is one of the best Burmese restaurants I’ve been to. If you’re not a fan, you can always check out the other food by Urban Burma, since it’s in a food court. Ethiopian, Syrian, Thai, Burmese, etc. So many different cuisines to try!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people who have inspired me. To name a few, there was a group of Rohingya women and children I befriended back in 2014. Their stories, resilience, and unwavering loyalty to their loved ones inspired me to pursue this work. To this day, I stay in touch with them and continue to be part of their story. I found myself in many situations with these friends discussing the need for more contextualized learning materials. I always wanted to do something, but I didn’t have the financial support. I was surprised by the amazing support I received when I announced my pilot project. I want to give a shoutout to every single friend and family member who supported my project. That’s the encouragement I needed to push on.
Nihab Rahman, photographer