Soul Food is a not-for-profit organization founded in February 2018 by two professionals, Kryssandra and François, with combined professional experience in law, music, art, psychology, international relations, migration, and children's rights, as well as a passion for art, culture, and helping people in general.
After several years of volunteering with unaccompanied minors in Paris, our co-founders recognized a unique opportunity to help young migrants learn, feel more at home in their new home country, and have some fun. A large number of migrant youth are not in school all day as they should be because, even though in France all minors, regardless of immigration status, have the right to go to school, the age recognition process is quite long and they are forced to wait for the French administration to recognize their minority status (under 18) before attending school.
Even after a minor's age has been confirmed, they are often forced to wait even longer before they are allowed to register for school. During this time, (sometimes months, and even years) they are also not able to participate in activities like local youth do. We provide opportunities for youth to access artistic and cultural activities, such as museum visits, dance ateliers, studio sessions, meals at the Refettorio Paris, concerts, language activities, and film screenings. We create opportunities for cultural exchanges between migrant youth and local French teenagers as well, by inviting them and accompanying them to cultural events.
We also identify special interests in the culinary, fashion, arts and other cultural fields. Then we connect interested migrant youth with quality, meaningful professional opportunities, such as internships, in an effort to help them find long-term solutions to the problems they face
To expose migrant youth to cultural events and artistic environments, such as concerts, artist meet-and-greets, and museum visits, in an effort to provide intellectual and cultural stimulation, facilitate positive integration experiences and encourage novel levels of autonomy in their new home country.
We work towards these goals with the hope that with each new cultural experience, migrant youth will not only make new friends and forget about their problems, but also feel like a part of French culture and life, instead of like someone who is watching from the outside.
Instead of attempting to force young migrants to forget their past and country of origin, we encourage them to discover French and European culture, and find their own level of balance between these. We show them that culture is not mutually exclusive. We do this partly by embarking on cultural excursions with fellow migrants, and sometimes French youth, creating safe spaces for open dialogue and opportunities to meet locals, and experience art, music and food as locals do.
Through our work, we promote sustainable and positive integration within immigrant communities in France. We envision a France with museums, restaurants, theaters, and concert halls full of people from all over the world; not only tourists, but migrants and locals too.
We also envision a world where migrants have this type of positive visibility, and not one where we only see them sleeping in tents in crowded cities and refugee camps.
We aim to help provide access to museums, theaters and other cultural places to migrants from all over the world. We also aim to fill in the excessive time gaps left by the French administration system, when migrant youth are not permitted to attend school, with intellectual and cultural stimulation through our excursions and activities. We hope the accumulation of all of these activities and opportunities will improve the quality of life of these young migrants, now and in the future.
AGS Alumna Celebrates Two Years of the NGO She Founded
Kryssandra Heslop graduated with a Master’s degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from AGS in 2013, after earning a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. She wrote her thesis on children's rights and unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors in Italy, and also completed the NGO Management Certificate Program. Since her time at AGS she has worked and volunteered with vulnerable children and young people.Two years ago she co-founded a non-profit called Soul Food, dedicated to supporting young refugees and unaccompanied minors through art and culture. This Sunday Soul Food is celebrating two years of existence. READ MORE ...
Soul of Paris | AN Interview
World Radio Paris | First Aired February 20, 2020
Soul Food Co-founder, Creative Director, and President Kryssandra Heslop shares how she helped to start the organization and her passion for supporting migrant youth in this insightful interview with C'est la vie radio show host, Katherine Pratt. LISTEN...
Culinary art, a "lifeline" for young migrants in Paris
For two years, the association Soul Food Paris has been helping young migrants, aged 14 to 20, to find their way through all forms of art. Report at the restaurant L’Ami Jean, in the 7th arrondissement, where cooking allows these young people to get by. READ MORE...
Coronavirus: "We want to go out, go to school, play football", the difficult confinement of unaccompanied minors
Like the rest of the population, unaccompanied foreign minors living in France have been confined for a week. But for these young people who live in hotels or with hosts, confinement is an ordeal. For many of them, protecting themselves, looking after themselves and continuing their education is almost impossible. READ MORE...
AGS Hosts English Classes for Migrants and Refugees in Paris
American Graduate School in Paris | Published November 26, 2020
AGS is supporting an initiative to host weekly English language sessions for refugees and displaced persons in Paris, bringing together groups of refugees from diverse countries and backgrounds to the AGS classrooms in the heart of Paris. READ MORE...