On March 7 the Migrant Settlement Service (Manning Valley Neighbourhood Service) partnered with Manning Regional Art Gallery for a Women’s Week event: Building Cross Cultural Connections.
It was an informal day, bringing together local migrant and Indigenous women and female workers to connect, share and discuss their culture, learn and establish relationships with other women in the community.
It all contributed to self-identity, cultural identity and a sense of belonging.
The day started with a beautiful Welcome to Country by local Biripi Elder, Aunty Pam Saunders, and a performance by the Taree High School Aboriginal Dance Group.
There were interactive cultural activities, including a demonstration and making of Pakistani naan bread by Sundus Jamil and Aboriginal painting on wooden jewellery led by Aunty Pam Saunders.
The activities were a great way to break the ice, get everyone relaxed and helped encourage discussion about cultural practices.
It was informal and easy but had everyone talking and laughing. Simple things like frying the bread and standing together waiting to use the grill were all opportunities for easy conversation.
There were also two speakers who shared their story about personal and cultural identity: Mais Alqaryouti from Palestine and Wiradjuri woman Eileen McGrady.
The activities and talks promoted engagement and discussion between two communities who don’t usually interact.
Migrant Settlement Project Worker Jane O'Dwyer said, “This format was new for us and it is one we would welcome the opportunity to repeat in the future.”