Melbourne Community Dinner – New Friends, New Food
While much of Melbourne enjoyed its first taste of Spring in early September, the 50-or-so people at The Welcome Dinner Project enjoyed the tastes of so much more.
On September 15, The Welcome Dinner Project partnered with The City of Melbourne, to host its ninth – and biggest Melbourne dinner to date.
A plethora of people and their plates of food packed a room in the Melbourne Multicultural Hub, filling it with kind hearts and worldly aromas. Early nerves and careful caution quickly made way for easy chatter and candid smiles, as first timers mixed it with Welcome Dinner devotees. Had you walked in late, you’d be forgiven for thinking you just crashed a party full of life-long friends.
Ornob Sheikh, a newly arrived person in Australia and a regular fixture at these events, describes the dinners as a great way to meet new friends and feel a connection within a like-minded community. “It’s refreshing and warm to meet so many kind-hearted people,” he said. “These people are super friendly and open to conversation. The enthusiasm to socialise, and the curiosity to know about you is heartwarming. They are genuinely interested to hear your story.”
Understandably, the idea of new arrivals mixing with established Australians at a dinner party can be somewhat overwhelming. Ornob describes his first time as being quite daunting. “I felt anxious before attending, definitely. Unsure about what to say, how to approach people… What to ask, and certainly what not to ask,” he said.
His early nerves quickly made way for confidence and charisma. Mixing it with new arrivals and established Australians alike. They say food is the language of love, and on this night the crowded table of multicultural culinary didn’t disappoint. Meat dishes, deserts and plenty of vegetarian fodder, consumed the table while we all gathered to share stories about the dish we delivered. Tales of childhood treats, nana’s best recipes and delicious dishes from far and wide were enthusiastically shared with newfound friends and growling tummies.
Despite his initial reluctance, Ornob says his reason for making the plunge into the unknown and attending his first dinner was simply to get to know people… Good people. “As I literally didn’t know anyone, it was quite lonely for me being in Melbourne. I needed to meet people and have a social life, which I found hard,” he said
And his advice for newly arrived people who are still a bit unsure about taking the plunge into the depths of dinner party pleasure? “Let your guard down. Go along and see for yourself that it’s super fun, really friendly and these people definitely want to get to know you.”