Welcome2Sydney provided an opportunity for nine new arrivals and four volunteer Sydney ambassadors to join an SSI group attending a Sydney Writers' Festival event at Carriageworks last month.
Welcome2Sydney participants at the 2019 Sydney Writers' Festival.
Welcome2Sydney is an SSI program that encourages newcomers to explore and develop a sense of belonging in their new home. Hosted by volunteer ambassadors, welcome activities include social, cultural and recreational excursions that match individual interests.
The Sydney Writers' Festival ticketing team kindly reserved allocated seating for SSI at the Bankstown Poetry Slam: Women of the Word on May 4. The group of 20 included staff from the volunteers support team and Community Kitchen.
SSI’s HSP housing team provided a minivan to transport the young women and men to and from South Western Sydney.
The common thread among all participants was a love for literature and desire to socialise with other like-minded young adults.
They were able to share information and knowledge about their aspirations to study and contribute to the canon of great literature. They discussed the best universities and opportunities available, shared a meal and sang songs. They spoke about women who had inspired them and future plans for their next activity together.
One participant said the thing she loved the most about arriving in Sydney was that she was treated like a real human being. "I was treated with dignity," she said, "I was treated as someone who had interests and aspirations — that there was more to me than being a refugee."
Welcome2Sydney Project Officer Paula Ben David said that was a common experience for Welcome2Sydney participants, ambassadors and community support assistants.
"They are living and breathing proof of how great our communities are and can be," she said. "Especially when people step up to welcome new arrivals, share their interests and celebrate an appreciation of belonging together."