Promoting Intercultural Connections at the Dinner Table
By supporting young Africans to enhance peace, the Mandela Washington Fellowship seeks to promote collaboration and dialogue that spans beyond geographic, cultural, and racial borders. To commemorate World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, the Fellowship is proud to highlight 2017 Fellowship Alumnus Luthando Dyasi and his work bridging international communities together over the dinner table.
Dining for Peace
Luthando Dyasi is the founder of Dine with Khayelitsha, a platform for local South Africans to turn their homes into shared dining spaces for international and local guests.
“The themed dinners are accompanied by thought-provoking conversations aimed at breaking cultural, racial, and economic barriers that exist amongst us,” Luthando says. “When we realized the change and the impact… it was a no-brainer. We needed more of these.”
Luthando got the idea for Dine with Khayelitsha while engaging with a group of international students. During their collaboration, one of the students suggested visiting their homes in Khayelitsha and having dinner there.
“We said yes without an idea of how it was going to turn out, because nothing of sort has ever been done in Khayelitsha.” That evening, Luthando and other people in his township hosted over 50 guests in 10 different homes. Since its inception, Dine with Khayelitsha has gone on to host over 5,000 guests across South Africa.
When the COVID-19 pandemic ripped through South Africa, Luthando and the many others who made Dine with Khayelitsha possible had to close its doors. “At first it was a negative thing for me… but it gave me a chance to reflect and learn from our failures…I missed the small things I took for granted such as handshakes and hugs we would give each other when saying our goodbyes after the dinner.” Luthando and his team are gearing up this year in anticipation of the reopening tourism industry.
Promoting Intercultural Connections
Luthando stresses the value of being involved in intercultural experiences like Dine with Khayelitsha. “For real change to happen, one needs to get out of their comfort zone…It is such experiences that teach us what we cannot learn at school or within our small circles.”
Luthando describes his Fellowship experience as one of a kind where he cited the value of networking with people from around the world. “I learned from experienced entrepreneurs and international businesses how to scale and conduct business globally,” Luthando says. “I entered Lehigh University as a Mandela Washington Fellow and came out a global citizen.”
Written by Daniel Ledin.