Integration dinner

For the Lunar New Year of 2013, Berlin-based artist Kate Hers Rhee asked to collaborate on one of her Integrationsstammtisch projects, a series of performative “integration dinners” responding to the ongoing debate over the integration of immigrants into Germany and Berlin.
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What does integration actually mean? Is it simply speaking the language or assimilating into the local culture entirely? In Kate’s experimental art events, guests with very different levels of German aptitude, from native speakers to recent immigrants, pledge to speak only German as they cook and eat a multicultural meal together, rather than defaulting to the most common shared language, English, as often happens in Berlin.
For the second event in the series, fellow guest collaborator Tina Han and I were invited to mark the Lunar New Year of the Snake by teaching the guests to make Chinese dumplings. It was my first time teaching a cooking class and also my first time teaching in German. Each guest had a different level of experience with Chinese cooking and different level of German; one guest could barely string together a sentence and had a gluten allergy to boot. Yet somehow we made a delicious dinner and held a spirited discussion about language and integration.
Photos of our dumplings courtesy of The Convivialist blog.