Working with ChangeX, I’m lucky enough to have uplifting conversations with people every day, those who just go for it and do something to bring people together around values we share, may it be about promoting a sustainable lifestyle or working on building a neighborhood where people feel connected.
The energy of our daily starters is contagious! Hearing from more than 500 people in Ireland who wanted to host a Welcome Dinner, I felt we had to do one with ChangeX as well.
So, on a Friday evening we invited 40 people to come together to share food, conversation and culture at a Welcome Dinner in the Fumbally Stables, a creative space attached to the Fumbally Café in Dublin.
With the beautiful room all set up and ready to go, it was a strange feeling waiting for the guests to arrive, as they were the ones bringing most of the food! But that feeling didn’t last for long. From the moment the first guests turned up with their lovingly prepared dishes, until the last guests left after helping to package up any remaining food to bring to a women’s refuge, there was a palpable warm and welcoming feeling in the room, topped by lots of laughter!
The dinner brought Irish natives together with immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers originally from countries including Zimbabwe, Turkey, South Africa, USA, France, Brazil, and Iran. Some of this group have been in Ireland for many years, are well settled and want to share their experiences of moving here with others, while some have only been in Ireland for a number of months.
It was a potluck style meal and most of the guests brought a dish of their choice to share with the group. The food was delicious and varied and everyone enjoyed trying the curries, tagines, lasagnes, dips (including hummus, taziki and Chilean pebre), breads, cheeses, salads and caponata that were on offer. One guest even brought a homemade elderflower cordial to share!
Lots of new connections were formed; people were exchanging email addresses and phone numbers throughout the night and making plans to meet again. All feedback from guests has been so positive: “It was a fantastic evening, so well organised and lovely to meet so many interesting people”, was a comment that I heard in a few variations from people before they went home.
The biggest reward was hearing people asking when the next Welcome Dinner will take place!
I hope that others will be inspired to come together and take the lead on setting up their own Welcome Dinners in their area. It was such a rewarding experience, well worth the work of organising! The beauty of it was that everyone lent a hand and it was truly a communal effort.
A huge thank you to everyone who made this evening such a warm and welcoming fest. If you would like to organise an event like this yourself, please just register your interest here and we’ll support you in making it happen.
For everyone who already registerd interest in hosting a Welcome Dinner, I will soon send out some tips and guidance about organising a larger dinner in a communal space.
I will leave you with some more photos from the evening, they capture it better than words can!
Photos by Cormac O’Connell, published under creative commons license