Changing the World One Dinner at a Time

I’ve been coordinating The Welcome Dinner Project in Melbourne since 2016. Coming from a politically active family and having worked in the settlement sector, with service providers and young people, WDP was something that was meant to happen in my life. I remember feeling at some point desperate, disconnected, and suppressed by political climate. I’d been wanting to do more for a while, but felt really helpless. So for me the discovery of the WDP was a very positive and obvious way of making a difference on a daily basis and the way in which I can be my true activist self.

The idea of a WDP is brilliant because it’s so simple. We all love to eat different things, we all love to cook and be cooked for because it’s a manifestation. That‘s how I nurture people – through food.

Recently, my husband came along to the Facilitator training and helped a lot. He always supports my interests. For example, one he event went along and did a sign language course with me, when I was learning to be an interpreter. However, he has never been particularly drawn to working alongside different cultures. That is why I was so surprised when in May this year, after attending the WDP’s training, he was keen to become a Facilitator. And then in the last couple of weeks our daughter jumped on board. She was also talking to me about potentially becoming a WDP facilitator, so I invited her to attend a Welcome Dinner and see how it usually works. She came along to the dinner two nights ago. And she got it! She is not a people person by nature but has been working in a professional job in the library. Somehow she felt really empowered by this experience and decided to be involved with WDP. She is no longer shy and intimidated by new people; I can see that through WDP she can be herself in an authentic way.

The WDP brings the sense of personal empowerment, the sense that you are helping something bigger than yourself. When we reach out to people, when we smile, connect, acknowledge the differences and similarities, we are making a huge difference. This is a relatively small organisation, but it makes me feel inspired and empowered to keep going, to keep talking, to keep on. Penny Elsley is a visionary leader, she helps to see things in perspective. Working with Michelle, my State co-coordinator in Melbourne, has been is a phenomenal experience as well. The whole WDP team inspires and extends me, I am happy to share the values and vision together. We are building a movement and I am happy to do this with my family.

How do I feel now? More inspired and hopeful at work. More empowered. And excited for the future.

Rachel Clark

established Australian

WDP Victoria Co-coordinator

based in Melbourne, Victoria

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