Parramatta YCW hosts Welcome Dinner for Migrants and Refugees
The Parramatta Young Christian Workers (PYCW), in collaboration with Joining the Dots organisation local Coordinator, Louise Stack, hosted their Welcome Dinner on the 22 August at their house in Granville.
It was a unique night of food, fun and festivities as the Welcome Dinner Project enables newly arrived migrants and refugees (within the last 10 years) and established Australians to share a meal with each other (usually a dish from their own culture), and get to know each other over dinner conversation.
This initiative was welcomed by PYCW volunteers and workers who wanted to be part of a local response to the struggles of refugees and asylum seekers in Australia today.
They felt that the Welcome Dinner Project provided the perfect combination of social and "x-factor appeal" to have a significant impact on their friends and families and people in the community. The PYCW Volunteer Leadership Team with the support of the PYCW Worker, Max Brady, were very pleased with the success of the night and the opportunity to meet and connect with people from different cultures.
The night was structured in an open way to get people comfortable with each other, with each attendee filling out their name tags on arrival and their ‘passion’- whether it be music, sport or dance etc., as a conversation starter.
After a short 20 minutes to half an hour, waiting for everyone to arrive and munching on some chips and dips, the bulk of the night got underway. Each person was asked to introduce the dish they brought and the significance behind the dish. The dishes ranged from Iranian, Indian, and Fijian, to Australian, with many of the attendees having a mixed heritage themselves.
"I brought a Latin-inspired Paella with chicken, chorizo, prawns, calamari, onion, capsicum, diced tomatoes and garnished with peas. This was special to me, as being adopted from Peru, I have not been able to connect as much as I would have liked with my culture. My parents are Anglo-Saxon in heritage. However, I still find it special to be able to create a dish that reminds me of my own heritage and add a twist to it," Max explained.
After introducing each dish, everyone was invited to try as much or as little as they wanted to, but this night most people were quite adventurous and tried dishes they had never had before.
During the dinner there were guided questions to help everyone get to know the people around them and “create a platform for meaningful connection, sparking friendships between people of diverse cultures who are living in close proximity to one another” (Joining the Dots 2014).
After this they were handed speech bubbles to write on to explain how they felt at the conclusion of the night. Many people wrote feelings of connectedness, happiness and relaxation. Before the end of the night they were encouraged to exchange email addresses or phone numbers with those they had met to perhaps nurture new friendships and networks for the future.
The sentiment of the evening was summed up by Max Brady as “an amazing night of joy and comradery, an effective way in which basically strangers can connect on that universal human level of goodwill over a universal human need which is food.
“Thank you to all the volunteers who were able to make this night happen and thank you to all who attended to make this night a success!”
For more information on how you can host or register to be a part of Joining the Dot’s Welcome Dinner Project, go to their website:
Also, for more information about how you can join the Parramatta Young Christian Workers and volunteer to be a part of the team that hosted this Granville Dinner, email Max Brady:
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