MENU – our journey so far

By Licia Carlesi, MENU Committee Member

For those who might be unfamiliar with the Multicultural Employee Network at UCD (MENU), here’s a short video introduction.  

We’d love to have your company at one of our upcoming events – read on for more!

The Multicultural Employee Network at UCD (MENU) was established by the EDI Multicultural Group in Winter 2018 following feedback from international employee focus groups. The aim of MENU is to make international employees feel welcome and to help integrate them into the UCD Community and beyond. In addition, a key objective of MENU is to provide a space for employees (international and Irish) to network, support members and exchange ideas with a focus on promoting cultural diversity and awareness in UCD.

There are over 200 members representing 50 countries around the globe, making MENU the biggest employee Network in UCD. The MENU committee is made of 10 people from different areas of the University representing 7 nationalities, who are proud recipients of a UCD “Values in Action” Award in 2020 in view of their commitment to the UCD values of diversity, collegiality, engagement and creativity.

Staying connected while working remotely

MENU organised regular get-togethers throughout 2019 in different locations on campus, bringing colleagues together in celebration of diverse cultures through food, festivities and music.

During the period of remote working following Covid-19, MENU played a very important role in connecting in international and national colleagues and supporting mental health and wellbeing. The network continued to organise virtual coffee mornings and has been innovative in engaging its members as well as other UCD groups and networks. Many colleagues reached out to the MENU committee to thank them for the coffee mornings and fun activities as it provided them with a space to engage, learn from each other and feel less lonely whilst working remotely.

Some of the themes include:

  • Virtual “Mindfulness” Session with UCD’s Mindfulness Group
  • “MENU Language Series 2020” – a series of virtual coffee mornings where committee and network members took turns to give a fun “speed” language and culture class (including Irish, Polish, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, Jamaican, Russian, Chinese…)
  • “MENU Multicultural Zoom Quiz“– this quiz has since been borrowed by other UCD units for their own get-togethers to foster inclusion and engagement, and a shorter version was featured at WST 2021
  • “Yoga at your Desk” coffee morning
  • “MENU Culture Café Series 2021” – an ongoing series where committee and network members highlight different aspects of their culture through insightful presentations and interactive activities
  • “MENU 2021 Summer Quiz” with prizes awarded to the top three winners

The group collaborated with other areas in UCD for a range of events, being featured at UCD Festival (2019), Engage Day (2020), participating in the Working-Smarter Together conference (2019, 2021) with a poster competition and presentation, and delivering a presentation at UCD Library’s annual staff day event (2021.)

Plans for the Future

MENU plan to continue celebrating culture and engaging colleagues via their popular Culture Café series, which introduces new cultural topics with special guest speakers. Highlights from the 2021 Culture Café series so far include:

  • “Discovering India”
  • “China Insights” to celebrate Lunar New Year
  • A Kurdish food presentation with social media star “A Kurdish Foodie”
  • “World of Chess” with Grandmaster Alexander Barburin
  • “Switzerland – a Small Country with a Global Impact”

The  virtual coffee morning on 20th August on the art of Japanese Green Tea is set to be another popular learning event. MENU are also planning a joint coffee morning with NUI Galway’s International Staff Network in October 2021, and hope to hold bigger events on Campus whenever the situation allows to further promote connecting with culture.

The interest and involvement in MENU events keeps growing, and they receive fantastic feedback from members. The MENU Committee is a passionate group who feel extremely proud of the highly visible and impactful work they do, involving a wide range of employees and making new joiners feel welcome, and supporting UCD’s values and objectives.


The network are active on social media:

For anyone interested in joining, please reach out via email. MENU are also looking for members willing to host a virtual coffee morning on an aspect of their nation or culture for the 2021-22 programme.