The Saint John Newcomers Centre is putting together a line-up of events to take its clients and Saint Johners on a through around the world through its Café Mieux Etre experiences. Curated by the Francophone advisors of Saint John Newcomers Centre’s settlement team, it offers an understanding of cultural exchange through conversation, laughter, music, and food. It holds every Friday as an alternative to your wholesome, edifying TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday) hangout.
“Marhaba” – the ideal first words you hear when you shadow the doorway of your host’s home. This was an invitation to the Grand Maghreb (Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Mauritania, and Algeria) experience enacted at the Saint John Newcomers Centre, where another Café Mieux Etre activity was held on March 3, 2023.
Walking through the reception room, you could hear the nostalgic tune of Andalusian music. For each participant of this evening’s activity, the hosts, Nissirine and Siham ensured they stayed true to the rich culture of Morocco by offering a hug, kisses, and a welcome shot of milk with orange blossom water and dates.
While the space was slowly brimming with lively participants, a few volunteers and guests had rolled up their sleeves to help in the kitchen area. There was a routine for the preparation of tea. The common table began filling up with sweets and pastries to go with the tea when served. Someone joked, “You’ll soon need more gallons of hot water,” as the room filled with more guests. The core of Maghrebi culture is the experience of accommodating visitors and making them feel welcome.
The stringed tune of Maghrebi music hung thickly in the air while smiles marked every conversation. Tea was served, and pastries were passed around. There was bread, dates, tunisian donuts, nutty chocolate cake, rolls, and the famous Moroccan pancakes. You could ask how each was prepared and someone would enthusiastically offer to share a recipe sooner than you could produce a pencil and sheet of paper.
You begin to understand what binds this community together – not just joy but the willingness to help and be of value to the next man or woman. A shared longing for a better world where no one is less or worse off than the next.
When the activity was done, and families dragged their feet as the activities wound down, this Friday evening left an impression of what great hosting and lively participation look like and a memory of what the North African (Maghreb) tastes like.
Saint John Newcomers Centre: 75 Prince William Street, Suite 100, tel. +1.506.642.4242, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Find us on Facebook, on Twitter, on LinkedIn. Subscribe to our newsletter. Check out our events.