In now more than 15 years of telling stories from our communities, I have been blessed to enjoy countless experiences – ones where I have met people from not only around the corner but also around the world.
One of those most recent encounters came earlier this fall season at St. James United Church – not coincidentally, where I have enjoyed many others – on a memorable Sunday afternoon.
With camera and notebook in hand, I made my way to the first Cultural Connections Antigonish (CCA) international potluck of the season – one of five planned for the coming months.
While sprinkled with conversation and a few snapshots – along with an offer to help the hard-working volunteers – I stationed myself in a corner of the bustling hall on a piano bench (thankfully, I did not play any requests), where I watched and listened to the festivities.
A self-described ‘people watcher,’ I soaked in the hustle and bustle – whether it was visitors discussing the culinary offerings, as they scooped portions onto their plates, or taking ‘selfies’ with friends – both established and newly-made – and loved every minute of it.
One of the highlights for me was the smiles on the faces of CCA board members as they darted from task-to-task – making sure everything was running smoothly – while also creating ‘connections’ along the way, as they initiated conversations and brought people together.
CCA – a group of volunteers – planted seeds for the international potluck five years ago with the goal of providing a meeting place for various cultures represented in the Antigonish community and to welcome newcomers.
They have done just that and so much more, creating a magical experience for those who have come together and shared ‘food and fellowship.’
CCA has fashioned that ‘magic’ with the help of other volunteers, including Brenda Hanlon and her St. F.X. human nutrition students, who provide their expertise in food handling and preparation, which is essential to making the meals happen.
For those who have never attended an international potluck, it is a delicious time – one that should be experienced.
The only request from organizers is to bring along a favourite dish for everyone to enjoy.
And, of course, come with the desire to be nourished – not only by the food, but also the great conversation.
My only mistake, from that day I perched on the piano bench, was I declined to share the meal. I am shy about eating in those settings, but I won’t make the same mistake the next time.
Nevertheless, I left that evening full – full with satisfaction that I had been part of a special gathering, one that I would never forget.
To share a similar experience, drop by St. James this Sunday (Nov. 19), at 5:30 p.m. – with the aforementioned ‘favourite dish’ – and you will be glad you did.
The theme for this potluck is ‘just for fun,’ and organizers are encouraging people to don traditional dress – ‘vintage, whimsical or come as you are’ – that ‘we can celebrate.’
Everyone is welcome to the family-friendly event.