FOOD is often described as the universal language and the Mount Gambier Migrant Resource Centre hopes it will spark a conversation between refugees and the community this week.
Continuing the city’s proud history as a cultural melting pot, recent refugees and migrants will open up about their backgrounds under the theme “Share a Plate, Share a Story”.
A joint venture with City Council for Migrant Week, centre manager Anelia Blackie said this year’s event was about forging new connections.
“The idea is to have people come to the event who have never attended a multicultural event,” Ms Blackie said.
“We want people who do not have a lot to do with refugees or migrants to come along and learn about their food, their culture and listen to their stories.”
Members of the migrant and refugee community will cook traditional meals from their counties of origin and share memories and stories about their home land.
Aboriginal food and culture will also be available, along with a range of entertainment.
“I am excited that we are including Aboriginal people in our event because like all our refugees they are first nation people,” Ms Blackie said.
“They can relate to feeling displaced to a certain extent.”
Along with facilitating an exchange of ideas, Ms Blackie said the resource centre wanted to highlight the effort refugees put in to become part of the community.
“Refugees are bridging a major gap in our community,” Ms Blackie said.
“They are filling a huge gap in the labouring market as many Australians do not want to work in a labouring job anymore, yet refugees do.
“They also fill classrooms at schools and TAFE which keeps teachers and lecturers in jobs, they score goals for the local sports teams and they pay rent and taxes just like anybody else.”
As part of the Share a Plate, Share a Story event, Mount Gambier Library – often one of the first ports of call for new arrivals integrating with the community – will preserve some of the memories from the day.
“They will be able to talk about the memories the food, it evokes for them and we are hoping to capture their stories to create a resource that can be looked back on in the future,” library manager Georgia Davison said
The sold out event will be held at Mount Gambier City Hall on June 22 from 5pm.