Staying rooted in humanity: Reflections on #Interactive2024

Last week, 800 welcomers from across the globe joined us at the 2024 Welcoming Interactive in the Certified Welcoming city of Dallas, Texas. Leaders from local governments, nonprofits, and other sectors spent three days sharing inspiring practices and ideas for including immigrants and refugees in their communities. Participants hailed from communities across the U.S., Canada, Czechia, Italy, Mexico, and beyond.

Our sessions and plenaries reflected the expansive work of welcoming and inclusion practitioners — on topics ranging from language access and climate change to community philanthropy and refugee resettlement — and the power of collective action, leadership, and organizing.

The conference commenced with two rounds of community tours that provided conference attendees with a variety of examples of what welcoming work looks like in Dallas.

From introducing the first-ever State of Welcoming report to celebrating Welcoming America’s 15th anniversary (complete with a mariachi ensemble!), we were thrilled to hear and share more opportunities to build belonging and advance the critical work of welcoming across the country and world.

Our executive director, Rachel Perić, captured the importance of staying rooted in our collective humanity in her opening remarks:

“Fifteen years ago, Welcoming America came together around a very simple idea enshrined in our tagline: ‘Building a nation of neighbors.’ Seeing each other as neighbors and being good neighbors is how we get to safety, agency, and power that doesn’t fall back on our worst fears, but leans into our strongest values. In communities large and small, rural and urban, your work to make sure origin, language, race, and status aren’t barriers to thriving has made it possible for residents to benefit from more equitable, more effective, and more efficient public services.”

Following her remarks, Dallas city officials shared their reflections and led discussions. Among the highlights include Assistant City Manager Liz Cedillo-Pereira in conversation with former mayor Mike Rawlings and basketball hall-of-famer Dirk Nowitzki on the evolution of welcoming and belonging in Dallas.

Later in the day, Ambassador Julieta Valls Noyes, Assistant Secretary of State for the U.S. Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration at the State Department, reminded attendees of the long-standing American value of welcoming refugees and shared her family's story of welcome that drives the work she does. To conclude the conference, author Cristina Henríquez reiterated the power of stories and narratives that represent diverse cultures and experiences and those that expose us to the joys, challenges, and experiences of others.

Performances by local artists such as the Bandan Koro African Drum and Dance Ensemble, Tacoma Refugee Choir, Abraham Mwinda, Sanjana Sivakumar, and Daniel "Preach" Crawford infused the plenaries with song, dance, and poetry, rounding out the spirit of welcoming that goes beyond words and conversations.

Thank you to all of our participants, speakers, panelists, volunteers, and partners — especially our hosts at the City of Dallas’ Office of Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs — for a truly inspirational conference. We are so grateful to all of our sponsors and exhibitors, including our Presenting Sponsors, Walmart and the City of Dallas, for their support. We extend our gratitude to all of the sponsors and exhibitors, who each offered connections and resources that made the conference a success.

Mark your calendars for our next Welcoming Interactive: May 20-22, 2025! We are excited to head to Detroit, Michigan (another Certified Welcoming city!) next year to celebrate and continue to grow the movement of welcoming communities. Sign up for our email newsletter to receive updates on next year’s conference.

Have any feedback for us about the 2024 Welcoming Interactive? Please share your thoughts in our survey by Friday, April 26.

Revisit the 2024 Welcoming Interactive by exploring the photos in our conference Flickr album and searching #Interactive2024 on all social media platforms.

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