Intercultural Dialogue

Philia took part in a collaboration of ATÖLYE and Yabangee – the new, exciting season of Expat Spotlight – a monthly series showcasing the freshest, most inspiring contributions being made by Istanbul’s diverse international community to the city’s cultural, sporting, humanitarian, and business spheres. It was an opportunity to share moving stories, reflect on personal experiences and participate in a resourceful dialogue with foreigners and locals alike.

The event took place in English, on Wednesday 19 February with the theme of “intercultural dialogue”.

Master of Ceremonies:

Jennifer Hattam is a freelance journalist from San Francisco who has been living in Istanbul since 2008. She writes about environmental, social, and urban issues, as well as art, culture, food, and travel for publications including CityLab, Culinary Backstreets, Deutsche Welle, Discover, Hyperallergic, Lonely Planet, and The Washington Post.


Nicole Bogott (The Philia Project)
Nicole Bogott is a published author and entrepreneur based in Istanbul. She analyses power dynamics in the international context. Her work on power and equality led Nicole to create Philia, an international peer coaching platform focusing on the inner, the relational and the community dimensions of empowerment and leadership. Her research on power and governance is featured in her upcoming book and academic conference series evaluating the future of democracy by analysing various forms of civic participation and governance systems. Further, Nicole has created impACT, a community-driven solidarity network for social entrepreneurs launching bottom-up solutions for global impact and a more ethical economy.

Yasmine Seale (
Yasmine Seale is a literary translator from Arabic and French. She also teaches and writes about books and art for a variety of publications. Her translation of Aladdin was published in 2018, and she is currently working on a new translation of The Thousand and One Nights for W. W. Norton.

Mohammad Alard (Beyond Kitchen مطبخ بلا حدود)
Mohammad Alard is a Syrian cook who graduated from Lecordon Bleu Istanbul and Entrepreneurship Through Food program from Union Kitchen. Mohammad worked in several hotels and restaurants before establishing the Beyond Kitchen project, collaborating with expat chefs serving international cuisine on one table. He recently hosted a pop-up dinner for charity doing Turkish and Syrian fusion dishes while supporting other refugees residing in Istanbul. He hosts Syrian cooking classes and food walks in Little Syria helping expats in the city understand the Syrian crisis and how the food sector transformed some neighborhoods in Istanbul, all while enjoying good food. For him, food is a pattern of rhythms that connect local ingredients and culture creating an outstanding symphony of experience. Through his dinners, he tries to understand cultures through food.

Picture of Philia


Philia is a globally operating empowerment platform that spans over five continents. The Philia Method promotes empowering conversations for community-building to promote towards equality and leadership.