Our Big Kitchen
On Sunday (February 1, 2015), in the evening hours, Group 484 and Forum for Local and Regional Cooperation (FLORES) organised “Our Big Kitchen” – culinary and artistic socialising of asylum seekers and citizens of Sjenica, in the restaurant of the Centre for Accommodation of Asylum Seekers.
High school students from Sjenica, gathered around FLORES and Group 484 educational program “We and the Others”, wanted to become more familiar with the culinary culture of the asylum seekers countries of origin, and to encourage citizens of Sjenica to socialise with their new neighbours, bringing them around a common table. On that occasion, “Our Big Kitchen” was jointly organised, where high school students prepared Arab and Syrian culinary specialties: mutabal, hummus, couscous, based on recipes shared by asylum seekers. In addition, high school students and citizens of Sjenica offered their specialties to their new neighbours- asylum seekers.
“Sharing a meal with family and friends is always a ritual with countless meanings. It is not just food. Gathering around a common table is a small event that connects us, brings us together. We then have the opportunity to talk, socialise and improve interpersonal relations, in a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere. Food is an important part of our identity, heritage, tradition, and through food we do not only meet each other individually, but we learn about different cultures and thus become richer. Perhaps the most interesting thing is to observe the effects of different cultures and peoples on various cuisines and apprehend the similarities and differences that make us similar and special. Not a single national gastronomy can be separated and dissociated from the other. For that reason, here we cook, serve and taste. In order to talk, listen, meet each other. To be part of a big kitchen where not only delicious meals are simmering, but also our temptation to accept new recipes and people who have presented us with them. And food, no matter how beautiful, is nothing if not shared with other people.”
Ivana Bogićević Leko, Group 484 program associate, about “Our Big Kitchen”.
That same evening, Ivana Bogićević Leko, Group 484 program associate and high school students from Sjenica, promoted a book “Blank Maps” – short selection of poetry by poets from “migrant” countries (Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria, Angola, Iraq, Ethiopia) and poets who wrote about the experience of migrants and refugees.
After that, citizens of Sjenica watched the documentary “How much more can we take?” by Matijas Vizler, produced by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles. The film treats the problems faced by asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan … on their way to a “better life”, stuck in the asylum policies of European countries and EU member states. The film was shot in Greece, in the period from October 2011 to February 2012, in the midst of the economic and social crisis.
Project: Our New Neighbours – improving migration policies in Serbia and the Western Balkans
Objective: building confidence and sensitisation of the local community for understanding the situation of asylum-seekers and migrants
Implementers: Group 484 (Centre for Migration and “We and the Others” educational program)
Support: Foundation for an Open Society, Serbia