During 2015 the founding coordinator of the Queensland Welcome Dinner Project (WDP), Lauren Moore, embarked on an overseas adventure and Libby Blom stepped into the role. The Welcome Dinner Project team would like to thank Lauren for all the energy she put into the WDP in Queensland during its first year.
Since October, 2015 we have shared welcome, hospitality and stories in the following suburbs: Springfield Lakes, West End, Dutton Park, Riverhills, Upper Mt Gravatt, Brisbane City. We are also embarking on beginning Welcome Dinners in Toowoomba which is very exciting, one of the first regional areas in Australia to launch the project!
These Welcome Dinners could not have happened without our amazing team of volunteer facilitators. On 28 November, 2015 we welcomed 13 additional Welcome Dinner Project facilitators to the Qld Team. It was a privilege to hear their stories and to have them commit to a day of facilitator training at such a busy time of year and more importantly to further commit to leading our communities in creating a culture of welcome.
The Welcome Dinners of 2015 and 2016 all hold very special memories. We have been hosted in homes with spectacular views of the city lights and the Brisbane River. We have shared an intimate gathering in an inner city apartment. Our final dinner for the year was in a commercial space in the heart of the city – this dinner went over time; a romance flourished; friendships were cemented; Christmas crackers were pulled; paper hats were worn and we drank from coconuts.
Each dinner offered something unique but at the same time each dinner achieved connection, joy and hope.
Bring on the rest of 2016! We have exciting plans for further collaboration with Brisbane City Council, MDA (Multicultural Development Association), Mums for Refugees, Romero Centre, Edmund Rice Network and Refugee Action Collective Queensland (RAC).
- 14 February Lunch at Salisbury (featured in Provoke magazine)
On Valentine’s Day we shared the love…the love of conversation, the love of friends, the love of food and the love of our neighbour! Our host, Donna, opened her heart and her home to create welcome and overwhelmed us with her hospitality. It was a warm Brissy day filled with sunshine, superheroes, laughter, cold drinks and plenty of fabulous food to share.
- 22 February Griffith University International Student Day
On 22 February in Brisbane, the Welcome Dinner Project were stallholders at the Griffith University International Welcome Market on the Nathan campus as part of their International Orientation program. We met so many wonderful young people who have been in Australia for only a couple of days to a couple of years. We met people from Norway, Sweden, China, Japan, Iran, Colombia, Kenya, Germany and many more places across the seas. We packaged up ANZAC biscuits to give to our new friends and they were a huge hit in their sweet little WDP stamped bag.
- Saturday 27 February (Dinner 6-8pm) – Petrie Terrace (also featured in PROVOKE magazine)
On a warm summer night, in Petrie Terrace, Brisbane, we found the perfect place of hospitality and welcome to meet new people, to share commonalities and to make new friends. On this night we discovered mutual passions for theatre sports, for travel, for crocheting and crafts, and so much more. Some guests discovered they attended the same secondary college, another couple of guests currently work at the same university. It was a night of deep connections. We thank our hosts, Ric and Lorelle, for inviting us into their home and we thank everyone for the fullness they brought to our hearts and our stomachs.
- 7 March (Lunch) in the City
On this occasion we witnessed two beautiful women, one from Iran the other from Afghanistan, connect so deeply that they not only shared stories and laughter they also provided for each other explanations and assistance when something new was presented to them. It is a privilege to witness the blossoming of friendships, the commonalities we share and the compassion we have for our fellow travellers. These sentiments rang true in the speech bubble words we shared at the end of the lunch.
19 March – Toowoomba launch
The Toowoomba chapter of the Welcome Dinner Project has hit the ground running! Thank you to our lovely hosts Dana and Orestes for making your home so welcoming. And a big thank you to all who attended. It was a fantastic day had by all and the start of many new friendships. Toowoomba’s WDP facilitators Emily and Darren worked tirelessly to ensure the inaugural Welcome Dinner was a huge success and a wonderful experience for all in attendance. If you live in Toowoomba or have family or friends in the area please ask them to register via the website today. Can’t wait for the next one!
Awarding of the Council grant
We have been very lucky to receive the Community Development and Capacity Building Grant from the Brisbane City Council. The grant provides funding to local not-for-profit groups to improve and develop services that respond to local and city-wide issues in Brisbane.
Welcome to Thiri and congrats to Libby on birth of baby Ned!
Welcome to Thiri San, one of our wonderful Brisbane Welcome Dinner facilitators, who has taken the reins of coordinating events while Queensland State Coordinator Libby bonds with new baby Ned! Congratulations Libby and family!
A host’s Reflection:
Although I had been to a couple of welcome dinners and facilitated one, I was still a little nervous before we hosted our own. I volunteer at TAFE by teaching English so it was a great opportunity to invite my own students along.
We strung up some party lights, put out some chairs and made a couple of deserts. The facilitators arrived early and took over all the tasks. This left Demo and I free to mix and enjoy our own party.
The food from all round the globe was amazing but what I liked most was the friendliness. Everywhere I looked groups were chatting. I could see my students blossoming as they felt genuine interest from others. No one was in a hurry to leave. When they did so, they left bearing containers of left-over food while the facilitators helped clean up.The whole evening left us with a rosy glow. I can’t wait to host again.