It was a full house when the Eastlakes Community Centre opened its doors for this year’s Welcome Dinner.
Close to 100 people arrived last Friday, carrying plates of their favourite meal to share with new friends to be.  South Eastern Community Connect, joiningthedots, Bayside Council and Sydney Multicultural Community Services jointly hosted the event with a grant from Multicultural NSW.

The Welcome Dinner Project is an opportunity for those who arrived in Australia less than ten years ago to meet the locals over a pot luck style dinner. The chats and laughs shared over plates of scrumptious food foster friendships and connections among people from diverse cultures and walks of life. Newly arrived Australians include migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and international students. The projects aim is to break down barriers and celebrate diversity.

As people walked in they were welcomed and invited to share in a few words what they were passionate about. With every table having a mix of newly arrived and established communities, the ice broke quickly as people talked about their different passions.

Each guest had brought a dish that reminded them of home and shared something about their dish, their culture and themselves.  There was an amazing smorgasbord of dishes including delicious and mouth-watering deserts to please even the most discerning palates.

Whether you came from an established community or a new arrived, there was no doubt a great welcoming atmosphere created by everyone sharing and showing hospitality and celebrating everyone’s uniqueness and individual contribution to our multicultural community.

“In the current climate where there are so many forces that try to divide us, we helped our community create a different story – one which is accepting and welcoming and promotes more connected , peaceful, resilient and productive communities”,  says Vida Tebyani, Family and Multicultural Manager at South Eastern Community Connect.At the end of the night, guests wrote down one word to describe how they felt about their experience, and some of the comments included:  “lucky”, “Happy”, “Grateful”, “inspired”, “hopeful”, “fulfilled” and “Welcomed”.

Many participants came forward offering to host a Welcome Dinner in their homes and engage their friends and neighbours to embrace collective diversity and interconnectedness. We thank them for their generosity and community spirit! To find out how you can join in or to register to host a dinner in your home, head to www.joiningthedots.org


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