Migreat starts its series of blog posts on innovative projects to help the integration of immigrants within society. Here is an interesting initiative coming from Czech Republic that involves natives, migrants, food and (sometimes) love.
Who has never watched Come Dine with Me, the Channel 4 reality TV show in which random strangers are selected to organise and share a dinner together, hoping to impress guests with their cooking and hosting talent? Well, forget about Come Dine with Me (#overrated), and switch for something more authentic, less dramatic and that bring the TV Show experience to your house but without the cameras: Come Dine with me Migrant Style!
Dine with your next door migrant
Each year at the end of November, Slovo 21, a Czech Republic NGO, manages to coordinate and organise 50 to 70 informal diners between immigrants and natives of Czech Republic. The idea is to bring together people who often don’t mingle or talk to each other in an informal and quite intimate setting that is their own house. The application process is fairly simple: you apply to become a host family or to be invited for lunch at someone’s house. The team behind the Next Door Family project works out who you match better with, in correlation to your interests, age, location, etc. The aim is to foster dialogue and integration of immigrants.
500 lunches organised so far
Called Next Door Family, the project started in 2004 and so far has brought 1000 families together, in a total of almost 500 lunches in Czech Republic only. This year, due to repeated popularity and consistent demand, the project went ‘European’, family diners were organised in 8 different countries including Italy, Belgium, Spain, Malta, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Portugal. The team is still looking for more partners in different countries like the UK.
Love stories playing in the background?
Asked about the outcome of these dinners, Lyubov, coordinator of the project in the City of Prague, said that 60% of people stayed in touch after the event. One would ask what you mean by staying in touch… Well apparently, not only people would email and contact each other after a while: some literally went on vacations, started projects together or met again to celebrate Holidays. Curious, I asked if there is some love stories in the background playing… but Lyubov told us that this is none of their (our) business… err, I disagree?! And Lyubov to add: well, we heard about some 3-6 y.o. kids falling in love and crying while leaving the lunch and their new friends…
Nevertheless, the project for once, is working (60% satisfied) and not just a success for the organisation organising it: it is benefitting the people it is made for, migrants because they become more visible, feel listened and more connected. This year there were more than 250 lunches organised. What is keeping you away from getting involved next year?
Who said Reality TV only gives bad ideas?