A Bollywood dancing display during Mernda Community House's multicultural dinner last month.

By Colin MacGillivray

ORGANISERS have hailed an online multicultural dinner hosted by Mernda Community House last month as a huge success.

The dinner, hosted on web-based conferencing platform Zoom, was intended to bring together residents from the Mernda and Doreen areas with different cultural backgrounds for an evening of fun and food.

Organisers engaged local drivers to deliver meals from restaurants across the Mernda and Doreen areas to more than 20 people who signed up for the dinner.

Mernda Community House’s Jackie Matthew, who was part of the five-person working group that organised the event, said it was important to foster social connections within the community despite the need for social distancing.

“It was a project where we wanted to have a number of people engage in conversation and nurture ongoing connections and friendship within the community,” she said.

“One of the reasons for the event was celebrating the diversity of our community.

“At Mernda Community House we see the diverse representations of people who attend classes, or any kind of social gathering.”

Ms Matthew said dinner guests were also treated to a set from comedian Diana Nguyen and a Bollywood dancing class.

“The dancing was a great hit. Everyone was on their feet dancing – it was a lot of fun,” she said.

“I talked with some of the ladies who attended afterwards, and one woman said even though she was limited to her wheelchair, she danced because it was so much fun. She said she couldn’t stop herself. It was a blast.”

Guests also split into several smaller groups during the event and discussed their different cultural backgrounds, how long they had lived in the area, and what they liked about Mernda and Doreen.

“From the people I spoke to, we had people from Iran, we had Australians, we had Indians, we had Pakistanis, we had Chinese people. Those were some of the backgrounds,” Ms Matthew said.

“We had people who said they would love to do it again. I don’t think we could do it again where we send out food to everybody, but we could do it again as a bring-your-own food event.

“We do hope that after the lockdown if things go back to the way they were, we can maybe have something at the community house.”

Ms Matthew said as an extension of the Bollywood dancing display, Mernda Community House was now offering a Bollywood dancing class online for children aged between eight and 15.

“This aligns with the vision of Mernda Community House of social inclusion, social connection and interculturalism,” she said.

“We’re doing a few new programs this term at the house – we are bringing in a Women’s Shed program, there is a gardening group coming soon, and we will have an end-of-year concert through Zoom, or in person if restrictions ease enough.

“We have all these programs coming, and we would love for the community to come together and get engaged again when they can.”

People can find out more about the upcoming Bollywood dancing class or other Mernda Community House events by emailing merndach@whittleseacc.org.au or visiting facebook.com/merndacommunityhouse.

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