Food and Spices Walking Tour 3; Photo Em

Photo credits: Emil Metodiev

Strategy type (tool, event, training course, etc.)
Event

Scope of the practice (local, national, international level)
Local

 

When did it start/end?
2017 - ongoing

Name of the organization
Meeting Points

City and country
Sofia, Bulgaria

Food and Spices Walking Tour 2; Photo Em

Photo credits: Emil Metodiev


1. Describe your project briefly
Food and Spices Walking Tour is a monthly walking tour held in Bulgarian and English that takes citizens and visitors of Sofia for a walk along one of the longest and most diverse streets in the city - Tsar Simeon. The street is dotted with Arabic barber shops and food stores who open their doors for people of all backgrounds. The project started in 2017, at a time when the public discourse about refugees was increasingly hostile, which resulted in the area near the street being considered as dangerous and unappealing. During the two hour walk, participants are invited to visit two shops, an Arabic bakery and a restaurant. Through games and storytelling activities walkers not only learn more about Arabic food and culture directly from the shop owners but experience first hand their hospitality and friendliness.

2. What is the aim of the project? 
The aim of the project is to break the prejudices and stereotypes that the general population has towards migrants and refugees through storytelling about food and culture. In addition, through the project we aim to introduce more people to several little Arabic establishments on Tsar Simeon street.


3. Who was involved in designing process?
The walk was designed by the team behind Meeting Points with the support of people of refugee background.

4. If you could change something, what would you change?
The project is ever evolving and ever changing. Since the start of the project we have introduced more activities and more robust storytelling, which connects specific products to experiences and traditions of the Arabic world.

 

5. How do the project impact on civil society? 
We have found that most people who come to the walk are somewhat curious about the area and/or the people working there. While they are somewhat open to “otherness”, many share that they had felt uncomfortable walking into the shops before for various reasons such as not knowing whether the owners would understand them or not knowing what to purchase. Informal talks with attendees and project evaluations suggest that following their participation in the walk, people are a lot more likely to revisit the establishments and recommend them to friends or family. Informal conversations with shop owners have suggested that they receive greater interest from the general public since the start of the walk. This is likely due to the walk's increased publicity in several publications, TV, and the national radios.

 

6. How do you evaluate the project’s impact?
The project is evaluated qualitatively and quantitatively through the use of evaluation forms which are sent to all participants following the completion of each walk. In addition, we conduct regular informal check-ins with the shop owners to see whether attendees come back to purchase from them and whether there is an increased interest in their shops from the general public.

 

7. Is there anything else would you like to share with us?
The walk is run on a pay as you wish basis. At the end of the walk, participants are invited to leave a donation and support the organisation's other activities.