We are all equal in the kitchen
What could unite people from different counties more than cooking together?
Exactly this kind of intercultural communication over a pot and sliced up onions took place last Sunday in the workshop of the Options FoodLab, co-organized with the aid of the volunteers of the NGO CIVIS PLUS and realized thanks to the guidance of the adorable Iraqi couple, Roàa and Sinan..
As Jeff, member of the Options FoodLab, mentioned: “It was one the best culinary workshops we have took into practice until now in the hospitable space of the Kassandra street!”
Options FoodLab is a community consisted of locals and our recently arrived fellow citizens which uses food and cooking as a catalyst for intercultural exchange, personal development and integration.
Sunday’s workshop could not have been implemented without the aid of Clea and Franscesca, two Italians staying in Greece with the EVS European Volunteer Program who met Roàa and Sinan in the lessons of the Greek language in the After School of CIVIS PLUS.
After School Social Support Class for the children of immigrants and refugees is an educational program implemented by the NGO CIVIS PLUS with the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
During the intercultural party that took place within the framework of the After School, the Syrian couple proved their cooking capacities and when the chance came up by Options Foodlab, the two volunteers suggested that they should participate. After numerous discussions, the plate that would be presented in the workshop was decided to be a vegetarian version of the well-known Arabic plate تمن جزر (rice with carrots and tofu), accompanied by Arabiyyeh salad (Arabic salad). The ingredients that were used were all traditional ingredients of the Arabic cuisine in order for the recipe to be prepared in the most authentic way.
The majority of the participants in the workshop took an active role and helped Roàa with enthusiasm in the cooking process. “The environment was truly friendly. We hope more actions will follow“, said many of the participants.
Many hands worked together for the same purpose, letting all differences aside. Nobody thought of nationality and religious issues and an environment of tolerance and love, in which everyone felt welcomed and each one’s contribution weighted as equally important with that of the others, was created.
“It was a very significant opportunity for us. Thank you very much“, stated Sinan, exhausted, but satisfied after the ending of the workshop.
This intercultural exchange and social integration project gave Roàa and Sinan the chance to feel that their capacities are valued by everyone around them as well as that they are equally crucial member of the local community they are living in. For a day, they left in the back of their minds the problems they are facing in their everyday reality, concerning the process of their permanent residence in Greece.
This workshop proved that the integration process of refugees in the local communities is possible to start with baby steps, such as cooking together and eating all together plates from the cuisines of the world.
After the successful workshop focused on the Iraqi cuisine, a workshop for the cuisine of Syria will follow, where Antishar and Nabil will cook delicious recipes.
Written by Francesca Basile, volunteer of Civis Plus with the EVS program in Greece
Translated by Ariadni Polichroniou