In our everyday interventions, we see escalating polarities between Nordic local societies and refugees/immigrants. Hate speech, xenophobia, and discrimination against the new comers are becoming more publicly manifested, in fact, these are also giving space for right wing and nationalistic politics, and extremely protective policies to be favored. But through experience, we also know that a back-lash of this nature is not necessarily out of hatred, but possibly out of misconception. Due to the speed and magnitude of migrant and refugee relocations within societies, there has not been sufficient space for concrete cultural learning and exchange, nor space enough for the locals and the new comers to interact and build a joint understanding of their new context – and thus compassion for each other. These processes have not been localized enough, they have been held at policy/political decision making level, where policies made have only fueled the divisions, rather than encourage inclusion.
This project is thus an honest contribution to fostering migrant and refugees’ inclusion in Nordic societies through providing skills, and a platform for newcomers to interface with the wider society and tell their life stories. In our countries and cities, we see the common social challenges of creating a ‘new us’; this expresses itself for example where members of different social groups don’t easily interact enough – leading to stereotyping, mistrust and negative perceptions of Us and Them. This needs to be further addressed.
We aim to create safe spaces for people of different backgrounds to interact, and therefore foster cultural learning and bridge cultural differences, as a contribution to more effective refugee/migrant inclusion into the Nordic local societies. Sharing food and stories are basic human ways of building trust and community, we have seen it work many times before, and we believe it is a needed strategy in the context we find ourselves in now.