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Food and friends: Carlton Community Welcome Dinner Project

Samantha Chew

Thu Jul 21 2016

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NEW to Australia and don’t know how to start making friends? Get to know the community over a meal at the Carlton Community Welcome Dinner. Samantha Chew reports.

As an international student it can daunting to settle into a community where everything is new. Food adjustment takes time and making a place your home can be arranged but the one thing that people struggle with the most is making friends in the community they are trying to adapt.

This feeling was the very thing that sparked the idea for The Welcome Dinner Project, which seeks to bond locals and internationals together through the universal language of food.

On Thursday, July 28 at 6.00pm, The Welcome Dinner Project will come to Carlton in the form of the Carlton Community Welcome Dinner Project, hosted at the Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre. Two hosts, eight established Australians, eight new arrivals and two facilitators will come together to invite the community to enjoy a potluck dinner.

Just a tram away within the CBD and across the road of Melbourne University, newly arrived international students are encouraged to register (which is free!), cook a dish from their own culture and make friendships that will benefit the whole community. Language and cultural differences are mitigated by Welcome Dinner Facilitators to break any barriers and provide a comfortable environment.

The project, set up by Joining the Dots, an organisation that aims to do just that — connect and join people of different origins all around Australia — had its roots in Sydney and has since spread nationwide with more than 300 trained Welcome Dinner facilitators across the country.

For the introverted, Joining the Dots also provides some easy conversation starters on their website to assist those who may shy away from this kind of social venture.

Those who cannot make it for the Carlton Community Welcome Dinner need not fret — regular dinners are held around Melbourne and at different dates.

Newly arrived international students or those who’ve yet to assimilate into their community are encouraged to register now. To do so, simply visit the official Eventbrite page of the Carlton Community Welcome Dinner Project