The Welcome Dinner Project launch on the NSW Central Coast!

What a fantastic start to The Welcome Dinner Project on the NSW Central Coast. Upon arrival, the guests were carefully directed to the back of the second floor of the library where the event was due to start within the next few minutes. Aunty Bronwyn, a representative of the university and local aboriginal Darkinjung elder, gave a welcome to country and introduced the audience to our traditional culture. Entertained then arrived in the form of a traditional Aboriginal dance from a local performing group. This saw re-enactments of Aboriginal dream time beliefs and ancient customs, my favourite being the kangaroo hunt. Once the crowd settled down, Penny, our MC for the night and The Welcome Dinner Project founder, proceeded with an introduction to the night’s event. This was followed by a lively icebreaker were participants shared stories about their name and passion.

Groups were formed of between 8-10 people and participants then directed to the dining lounge where they would collect their culturally significant dish and find a table with their group. This was a huge hit, and for the next portion of the night participants began to bond over food and fun. Work was strictly off limits! The atmosphere was vibrant and colourful and full of cheer as our wonderful guests got to know each other. It then came the time to swap seats, which saw guests converse and engage with other members of the event, and further sample food from all corners of the Earth. Once a reasonable amount of time was given to make new friends and mingle with previously un-acquainted members of the community, it was time to play the speech bubble game. Colourful speech bubbles were handed out and guests asked to write 1 word that expressed their feelings for the night. Happy, connected, warm, among family and great seemed to pop up a lot! We then shared our experiences with the entire group, made up of approximately 85 guests, a further reflection of the night’s highly successful celebration of multiculturalism. To finish the night, a closing photo took place to capture the memories of new found friends. Smiles could be seen and joy could be heard right out the door as people began to leave the library. A truly memorable night, and a very high standard to beat!

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