Community spirit was order of the day at South Eastern Regional College which hosted a special ‘Come Dine with Us’ evening which shared the music, food and culture of Syrian families to welcome them to the area and make introductions to local community and support networks.

The event, to promote cultural diversity was funded by the Community Relation Council, following a successful application by the College.  

Claire Henderson, Head of International, Quality, Excellence and Development at SERC said, “We were delighted to welcome forty-five (45) people from the local Syrian community to SERC to share their music, food and culture with a further forty (40) people from the Lisburn and greater Belfast area including representatives from the Pakistani, Taiik Eastern European, Moroccan and Algerian communities who have made Lisburn their home.

“The evening offered us all the opportunity to learn more about different cultures and for everyone in turn to find out about local charities and support networks including the Belfast Islamic Centre, Hawa Community Group, Sally Gardens, Holy Evangelist Primary School, and of course South Eastern Regional College.

She added, “Our guests - ranging from 10 to 90 years old - enjoyed food prepared by SERC culinary students under tutelage from a Syrian Chef and each table was decorated under the guidance of students from Syria, who advised us on traditions and customs. We also had music and displays of cultural and religious artefacts from Syria. There was a facilitator at each table who encouraged guests to talk about the Syrian culture and their experience of becoming a refugee.

She concluded, “Feedback from participants indicated a positive, enjoyable experience which increased their knowledge and understanding of the Syrian culture. We hope to repeat the event to include more marginalise community groups and to share our knowledge and understanding with the wider Lisburn community.”

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