On Saturday 17 September RCN students Azlin (US), Juan Pablo (Colombia), Paula (Germany) and Ximena (Guatemala) joined local 4-H youth and young asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Syria to prepare a feast for members of the local community at Hyllestad School. This was the realisation of our first collaborative project with the 4-H, and we learned that food can bring people together in wonderful ways!

The planning for the event began in the spring, but the concrete preparations took place in three sessions this term. First the students joined their partners for an afternoon of ice-breakers and cooking, followed by a dinner together where they sampled and learned about each others’ dishes. The night before the event we met to set up tables and prepare the gym at Hyllestad School. On this occasion Juan Pablo’s chicken dish was the focus of a meal before we headed home to rest up before the Big Day.

The kitchen at Hyllestad School was a hive of activity on the 17th, with food from Afghanistan, Syria, Norway, Guatemala, Colombia, Germany and Mexico prepared at different stations and a harmonious, supportive, enthusiastic atmosphere fostered by the cooks and supervisors. The meal was scheduled to begin at 13.00 and we had no idea how many to expect, but visitors began arriving at 12.30 and patiently waited as food was gradually brought to the gym, served, and – as many empty plates and smiling faces suggested – enjoyed by those in attendance.

Once the food had all but disappeared the Mottak youth set up speakers, put on their music and danced, drawing others into their orbit and adding a special element to the day. We have been enjoying the company of youth from Sørbøvåg mottak at our weekly community gammaldans, but this time they showed us their dances, filling the school lobby with their energetic movements and sounds.