• New migrants and refugees help themselves to dinner during a meal hosted by an Australian couple as part of a project aiming to break down barriers for new arrivals (SBS).
We see ourselves as one of the friendliest nations on earth, yet there are thousands of long-term visitors who've never seen the inside of an Australian home. But a new project run by locals is inviting new migrants, international students and refugees into their homes for dinner and a chat.
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17 May 2014 - 10:38 AM  UPDATED 17 May 2014 - 3:38 PM

Coming together over a meal is a universal ritual that translates across every culture.

 

Community organisation, Joining the Dots, is making the most of it with a dinner project that connects newly arrived people with established Australians inside the comfort of their own homes.

 

The aim of the dinner is to break down barriers and create friendships between people from diverse backgrounds.

 

Around 15 people take part in each dinner, contributing a dish from their culture.

 

Hadi Tahmasebi arrived in Australia in 2013 as a refugee from Iran.

 

Before the Dinner Project, he had never been invited into an Australian home.

 

"It helped me a lot actually to settle in Australia. It's the food, making new friends, and the culture and everything," Mr Tahmasebi says.

 

He's now working towards being a Farsi interpreter and he says talking about his day-to-day life has helped people understand more about his background.

 

"It improves the image of the asylum seekers and the refugees that some people unfortunately have in their mind you know." he says.

 

Chinese international student George Zhang says the event has helped ease his mind about rumours of racism toward international students.

 

"Actually before I came to Australia, my parents really were worried," he says.

 

He's been studying in Australia for a month and says the dinners have helped him feel more at home.

 

"Obviously the food is quite different, but I got this atmosphere and people are really nice and they want to make me feel comfortable."

 

Tereza Todorova, a facilitator at Joining the Dots, says her group started the project last year with the hope of bringing together people from all walks of life.

 

One of the biggest complaints she hears from students is the difficulty of making friends with locals.

 

"We know that a lot of them are also keeping these friendships after the dinners which is what we really want, for these connections to continue," she says.

 

The dinners have been so popular, they're expanding the project to other capital cities.