The Welcome Dinner Project – Martin Place

On March 20, 2014, a group of 100 strangers came to a free event at Martin Place, The Welcome Dinner Project, sharing a pot-luck style dinner with each dish prepared by each guest at each table.

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“The Welcome Dinner Project is all about spreading culture of welcome in Australia. Each Welcome Dinner has provided with a unique gathering, with it’s mix of newly arrived and established Australians sharing food and stories- creating that perfect recipe for connection and rediscovering our common ground.”

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Walking down to Martin Place from Wynyard station, you’d probably notice that it is the business hub.

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This morning there was a Welcome Dinner Exhibition with St Andrews Cathedral choir and artworks and words from people around the world. #inspiring

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In case you hadn’t heard, Harmony Week is this week so it was the perfect date for bringing different cultures together.

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Tonight the dinner ran from 6:30 with inspiring text around the marquee to welcome people into our homes.

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At the entrance there was a board with words from multiple languages.

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It was also a pot luck dinner- which meant that everyone had to bring a dish from a country and share it with their designated table. Luckily there were some microwaves available for hot foods.

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I loved the setting. It was super cute and designed by UTS Shopfront. Kudos.

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The colourful bubbles on each of these cards have a word written on them by previous diners which represent how they felt about the nights.

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Look at the beautiful lanterns which lit up the marquee. Carpenters used leftover timber to make the photos frames hanging off. #sustainability

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We were grouped into tables with established and new Australians. It was quite a good concept except I was left sitting alone at my table for quite some time.. well, at least I had photos to take! There were some ice breaker questions on the table just incase you got stuck in a convo.

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I quite like the recyclable paper theme- paper table cloth, paper utensils, paper plates

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and paper bags filled with brochures.

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… and even a paper box with Miss Chu’s delicious rice paper rolls! What a star and kind supporter! We kinda didn’t resist temptation and gobbled them up before the official ‘start’ of the dinner.

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The MC and Penny introduced us to the first year anniversary of ‘The Welcome Project’. I’ve never been to one before and this one looked delightful! We had a range of curries, roast chicken, potato salad, spinach/beans/tomato/mixed salad. #nomnomnom

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We were supposed to explain a story related to our dish. Mine were my mum’s famous cupcake/muffins. My story was simple. My mum bakes these with our leftover bananas, apricots and whatever fruit and nut we have excess of. They’re a family favourite!

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We had a lovely indigenous lady educate us that the aboriginals were the first Australians and we, of course came into their land. She also highlighted that there are several aboriginal languages in Australia, using Europe as an example where there’s Italian, German, French in one continent.

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We also had someone from the Good Food Guide talk about how food shapes our culture and because we are such a multicultural country, we should share and embrace it.

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We had a little shift of tables for dessert and even had a Skype session with Adelaide.

Penny, the founder of The Welcome Project shared how she was always welcomed into strangers homes when she went travelling the world. I must admit that her story really related to how I travelled- going to a local’s home and seeing the way they live. She also thanked everyone involved, particularly on a voluntary basis.

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ABC crew were there, we took a massive groupie and we each got to write a word and pin it up on a wall.

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Although I met mostly established Australians, it was still a wonderful way to meet people from all ages and backgrounds and share a meal from their home. It was great to see the exchange and to talk about our origins.

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Review Rating: =D  =)  =|  =(

Product ( The Welcome Dinner Project): =D

Ambience: =D

Service: =)

Value: =D

Would I go to another Welcome Dinner Project again? I would absolutely love to! Even though they challenged us to get at least one email, it was a great way to make new friends- particularly if you’re new to Sydney! They also hold these in people’s homes during the year.

Would I donate the money I saved to my charity? It takes a lot of volunteers and effort to hold one of these. From decorations, to logistics, to even getting Martin Place- how on earth did they get the space? City of Sydney gave them s grant for it. For this occasion, I would donate maybe $10 but if it was held in a home, a little gold coin donation wouldn’t hurt. It was only restricted to 100 people too.

Highlight: sharing your meals. I think the most exciting thing was the food, which brought out the personalities of people too. It was pretty nice talking to everyone and if there are any awkward moments, then food is always a good topic!

Suggestion of improvement: this might be minor, but tissue paper? It was very nice hearing from all the speakers and acknowledging everyone involved. It was quite a long process but if it was spread out through the night then I would’ve been more attentive. Maybe if everyone put in if they brought an entrée, main, or dessert, then it could’ve been easier to sort tables although ours was a perfect mix of each!

Ends: this was just one, but there’s more to come!


Angela Bee


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