Welcoming Week | Welcoming America

Category: Welcoming Week

Welcoming Week celebrates movement of inclusion by “Creating Home Together”

Welcoming America | September 1, 2020

Press Release:

Atlanta, GA — From September 12-20, Welcoming America, a national nonprofit organization, will lead the annual celebration of Welcoming Week events happening around the world under the theme of “Creating Home Together.”

Due to the pandemic, Welcoming Week—which typically takes place through in-person events around the world—will mostly shift to virtual programming. Under the theme of “Creating Home Together”, events will focus on what it means to call somewhere home and ways to create homes that are inclusive and welcoming to everyone, no matter where they are from. 

“We all want to feel at home in the place we call home, but far too many of us—including immigrants and refugees—aren't part of creating, contributing to, or benefiting from the communities we live in,” says Rachel Peric, Executive Director of Welcoming America. “We have the power to change that at the local level. Welcoming Week is a reminder of how we can each play a role in creating welcoming communities for all."

From Fort Wayne, IN to Palmerston, New Zealand, the 200+ members of the Welcoming Network and a growing list of partners are set to host virtual and in-person events, ranging from socially-distanced museum tours in multiple languages to virtual cooking classes with former refugees to day-long community chalk murals.

Among Welcoming Week’s 40 official partners include prominent nonprofit organizations, such as I Stand With Immigrants, International Rescue Committee, YMCA of the USA, American Alliance of Museums, American Library Association, and more. Each will host their own event or co-host with Welcoming America during Welcoming Week.

See the full list of Welcoming Week events. Any organization or individual is welcome to host an event during Welcoming Week, use the host toolkit, and submit events on the website to appear in the event listing page and map.


Kickoff Livestream Event on September 12
To kick off Welcoming Week celebrations, Welcoming America will host a livestream event, “#CreatingHomeTogether: A Welcoming Week Experience”, featuring music and dance performances, stories of diverse immigrant experiences, and a special message from Tony, Emmy, and Grammy Award-winning musical actor André De Shields, best known for his Broadway performances in The Wiz and Hadestown. De Shields will introduce singer Jade Litaker who will perform the closing song, a cover of “Home” from The Wiz.

"I am thrilled to be a part of the Welcoming Week 2020 kickoff event,” says De Shields. “The work that Welcoming America is doing means a great deal to me, especially in this year when we have had to fight so hard to combat racism and hatred. Their work educates and uplifts with the goal of ensuring everyone feels welcome and included and feels like they can create a home together."

The livestream will occur on September 12 at 3 p.m. Eastern Time via Welcoming America’s official Facebook page and YouTube channel. RSVP is requested, but not required to attend.

About Welcoming Week
Through Welcoming Week, organizations and communities bring together immigrants, refugees, and long-time residents to build strong connections and affirm the importance of welcoming and inclusive places in achieving collective prosperity. Welcoming America is proud to lead the growing network of hosts and partners around the United States and world who strive to make their communities a more welcoming place for all. Learn more at welcomingweek.org.

About Welcoming America
Welcoming America leads a movement of inclusive communities becoming more prosperous by making everyone feel like they belong. We believe that all people, including immigrants, are valued contributors and vital to successful communities and its shared future. Learn more at welcomingamerica.org.


Contact: Lola Pak, Director of Communications, Welcoming America
[email protected], 470-236-0129

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Video: Where will you find common ground in your community?

Welcoming America | July 19, 2017


The divides among Americans may seem vast these days, but Welcoming America believes that in many communities, there is a very different narrative that should be lifted up: Stories of diverse people finding common ground and making an impact in each other’s lives.

When a Jewish couple in Atlanta, GA, met a Kurdish Muslim refugee couple from Syria, the unexpected happened. They forged a strong friendship and strengthened the bonds of connection in their community.

“We met Hasan and Rania through our friend Dr. Heval Kelli and volunteered to help them learn English because we felt helpless with everything that was going on in the world. My husband, Adam, and I wanted to do something proactive. We started coming to their house every Tuesday night to work with Rania on her driver’s license test and Hasan on job interview skills. As our relationship progressed, they wanted to spend less time studying and more time seeing Atlanta, so we started going out into the world. We don’t think of them as a volunteer activity, we just think of them as friends,” said Joanie Twersky. 

The friendship between the two couples has evolved into a larger social circle and regularly involves dinner parties, playing soccer, going to movies, bowling, and much more. Joanie and Adam even threw Rania and Hasan a Green Card party earlier this year.

“When I was growing up, we still heard first-hand accounts of the Holocaust including stories of non-Jewish people who risked their lives to hide Jews. I often wondered to myself – if the situation was reversed would I put myself at risk, would I put my whole family at risk in order to protect someone else when I could just do nothing and remain safe? Thankfully, I have never been faced with that decision. But we make another form of that decision every day when we watch the news and it’s overwhelmingly and sad and ultimately doesn’t affect us. We have to make a decision about whether to turn it off and disconnect and go about the rest of our day or act. And that’s as tough a decision, because it’s really easy to do nothing.

If I could ask one thing of people, it would be not to disconnect when it is hard. Your greatest influence is always going to be local, in your own community. Chances are there are people right there that are going through more than you know. And you have the ability to be present in their lives and have a really rich relationship that can make a difference for both of you,” said Joanie Twersky.

Host a Welcoming Week Event

Build common ground in your community by hosting a Welcoming Week event.

Learn more about hosting

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#8ways you can support refugees in your community

Amanda Bailly | June 20, 2017

Photo Credit: Matej Povse

Two years ago, I traveled 2,700 miles across Europe with a Syrian family that was fleeing the war in their home country. Sham, a single mother, and her two kids crossed the sea in an inflatable raft, and together we traveled from the Greek islands to the German capital, where they started a new life.

I filmed the journey, and the result is 8 Borders, 8 Days, a feature documentary that is both an intimate story of this family and an immersive experience of their journey. The audience travels with Sham, Yaman, and Lulu as they run across Lesbos, push through violent riot police in Macedonia, and cross through the cornfields into Hungary by moonlight. But there are also moments of lightness and humor, when you’re forced to remember that these are two young kids, much like your own.

I made this journey because I wanted Americans to see the consequences of closing our doors to refugees. Sham and her two kids had applied to be resettled to the US, but with no reply to their application, Sham decided that a smuggler’s raft was the safest option available.

“You know you are crazy when you get in this crowded raft, but there wasn’t any other option available," Sham said.

We are screening the film in communities across the country to bring people together to talk about how they can be welcoming to newcomers - and why it’s so important to our shared future to do so.

We have witnessed moments of incredible kindness and generosity from new groups of activated Americans ready to make our communities proud places of welcome. They might not make many news headlines, but they’re out there doing the hard work of making their communities safe and tolerant spaces. These welcomers are building bridges between newcomers and long-time residents and helping newcomers feel a sense of belonging in their new homes. In doing so, they are making their communities better places for all residents.

On World Refugee Day, we at 8 Borders, 8 Days are launching an #8ways campaign to support refugees. Together with our partner organizations, including Welcoming America, we have identified eight simple pathways for people to immediately support refugees. One of those ways is to host a screening of 8 Borders, 8 Days. We invite you to bring members of your community together around the topic of welcoming, and sign up to host a screening. We make it very easy and support you throughout the process.

It is because of the strength, courage and resilience that I witnessed in Sham and her family that we determined to bring their story to the cities and town in the US that will benefit most from hearing the personal stories of the people affected by the immigration debate.

Together, let’s make our communities places of safety and dignity for the families who were fortunate enough to be resettled here. Will you join us?

Screen 8 Borders, 8 Days in your community

Hosting a film screening can encourage discussion, bring people together, and mobilize supporters for your welcoming work. Welcoming Week is an ideal time to screen this film as a part of your broader welcoming efforts.

If you decide to host, you will also receive a discussion guide created by Welcoming America specifically for the film. You can also invite the filmmaker, Amanda Bailly, to speak in person or via Skype at your event.

To learn more, visit 8borders8days.com/host or email [email protected].

About Amanda Bailly

Amanda Bailly is an American independent filmmaker based in Beirut, Lebanon.  In 2015, she followed a single Syrian mother and her two kids from Beirut to Berlin when they fled with smugglers. The film, 8 Borders, 8 Days, premiered in April 2017 and is currently touring the country in film festivals and community screenings. She also produces documentaries and web videos for human rights organizations, primarily Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and the United Nations.  Previously, she was a producer for Human Rights Watch’s multimedia team in New York.  She studied journalism and Middle East history at Boston University.

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Diaspora: Once Newcomers, Now Vital Community Bridge Builders

Vanja Pantic Oflazoglu | June 13, 2017

The United States, which has long been known for its deep history of immigration and welcoming immigrants and refugees, accepted hundreds of thousands of Bosnian refugees who were fleeing war and genocide in the 1990s. Since then, Bosnians - like myself - have integrated into our new communities, contributed economically by opening new businesses and creating job opportunities, and promoted the many values that Bosnians and Americans share.

Bosnians are one of the many diaspora groups that enrich America. For example, we contribute to stabilizing neighborhoods that are experiencing economic and population decline, such as St. Louis which is now home to the largest Bosnian diaspora population. Much of the Bosnian community benefited from being welcomed and the idea of paying it forward stuck with many of us, including my own family who still fondly remember those who went out of their way to ensure we felt safe and at home. Today, those of us who were resettled across the United States play a notable role in contributing to our communities, and creating a welcoming and inclusive country for all.

Our Unique Role

Diaspora community members are in a very unique position - we were once newcomers, and therefore understand the incredible challenges that come with leaving home and arriving to a new place, and today we are proud members of receiving communities spread out across the country. We are therefore well positioned to give back not only economically, but also as welcomers who empathetically help to make America a welcoming place. With an understanding of the difficulties that come with being a stranger in a new land, learning an unfamiliar language, and starting anew, we also know what it means to turn obstacles into opportunities. Our success stories range from taxi drivers who supported their children’s college dreams, doctors saving lives in local hospitals, cafeteria cooks providing lunches to local school children, lawyers helping provide justice for all - success comes in many forms.

Many members of our diaspora have been able to build wide networks through our community work. Given the relationships the diaspora has been able to foster in our respective communities, we can lead in breaking down barriers between today’s newcomers and their receiving communities. One of the most successful ways to build those bridges is to highlight our common, shared values - family, education, safety, health, and faith. Not only can we highlight our own stories as former refugees and immigrants in order to show people the path it took for us to be who we are today - daily contributors to our adopted communities - we can also work together with newcomers to share our community values through dialogue.

How Diaspora Can Actively Welcome

I urge my fellow diaspora to get involved in welcoming work at this important moment in our shared history, when many people, from newcomers to long-time residents, may feel as if they don't belong. We can be important community bridge builders to help people find common ground. One way to do so is by hosting hosting an event for Welcoming Week, an annual series of events that unifies communities in an effort to show the benefits of welcoming everyone, including immigrants and refugees.

If you’re not sure where to start, you might consider hosting a private potluck in your home, extending an invitation to a friend and asking them to bring someone from their circle to expand your network. If you’re interested in getting more of your community involved, you may consider partnering with a local organization, community center, or place of worship to host a larger potluck, concert, dialogue, film screening, community cleanup, or other volunteer project that could bring people of different backgrounds together. You can also get more ideas and support for your events from Welcoming America - we are ready to guide your diaspora community in its welcoming efforts! 

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A Welcoming Week reflection: How can we create a culture of knowing?

Welcoming America | October 31, 2016

Central to Welcoming America’s work is the idea that communities can only thrive when all are valued. We just wrapped up a successful Welcoming Week, with more than 350 events across the country where people came together to celebrate the contributions of all residents, including new Americans. We hope that many new connections were made, as people got to know their neighbors and learn more about their stories and what they have in common.  

This Welcoming Week, we also were grateful for the partnership of YMCA of the USA, which shares a vision with us of building more inclusive communities where new Americans and long-term residents can all thrive.

We welcome a guest blog from Andrea Champagne of the YMCA of Greater Providence, which reflects on the need to move from simply seeing our new neighbors to knowing them, and why it’s so critically important to take that step:

I just finished a Zumba class at our YMCA. The instructor is a Moroccan-born Muslim woman in full hijab. Next to me was a 60 year old African American woman; in front of her a Latino gentleman. An Asian grandmother turns around and yells, “Let’s keep it moving everybody!” Whoops and cheers erupt from the class. “How wonderful,” one would think,” all walks of life coming together!”

Recently I overheard two young boys, about 11 years old, talking with my desk staff about an issue they were having down in the pool. I had just recently taken one of the boys on a tour with his family. They had moved to our city from Iraq. The other boy had also just joined with his family. I remember being so impressed, and also a little sad, at the way he translated everything for his mother.

I came out of my office and asked the boys what was up. They told me there was another boy their age in the pool who had accused them of belonging to ISIS. This boy said he was going to join the military and go to Iraq and blow it up. I asked the boys if they would feel comfortable pointing this boy out to me and they said sure. When we arrived on the pool deck, the lifeguard was already talking to the boy about the incident. We talked about our core values and how important it was that everyone demonstrates them. We talked about safe spaces and how critical it was that the Y be one of them. He said he understood. The boys said they still wanted to swim. I cried the whole way home.

As I reflect on the incident, one thing continues to resonate with me. When I was walking down stairs with the boys, one of them told me about the boy in the pool. “He knows me because when I first came here a few years ago he was in my class.” He knows me. I didn’t connect it at first. He knows him like I know the people in my Zumba class. He doesn’t know him at all. He just sees him. Our Y is an amazingly diverse population of people, but how can we create a culture of knowing and not just seeing?

By Andrea Champagne, Senior Director, YMCA of Greater Providence

Share with us on Twitter your answer to this question: How can we create a culture of knowing and not just seeing?


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The Birthplace of Welcoming

Welcoming America | September 26, 2016

As we finish celebrating Welcoming Week in hundreds of communities across the United States, let's go back to where the welcoming movement began - Nashville - and watch how the city transformed itself from fear of immigrant newcomers to a place that actively welcomes them, and is thriving because of it. 

At a time when over 65 million refugees are looking for a place to call home, communities around the world can learn from and be inspired by Nashville’s story.

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After Orlando: Managing Fear and Welcoming Diversity

Welcoming America | September 23, 2016

On June 12, 2016, Orlando witnessed the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter, the deadliest incidence of violence against the LGBTQ community in US history, and the deadliest terror attack in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001. The shooting took place at Pulse nightclub, a popular gay bar that was hosting Latin night.

As part of Welcoming Week, The University of Florida Center for Global Islamic Studies and the Bob Graham Center for Public Service hosted a panel discussion on Sept. 13 to discuss the Orlando shooting and give community members a chance to ask questions in an effort to process the complexity of this tragedy.

The panel included Rasha Mubarak from the Council for American Islamic Relations Florida (CAIR Florida), Terry Fleming from the Pride Community Center of North Central Florida, and Zoharah Simmons, UF Professor in the Department of Religion. The panel was meant to bring together those of diverse backgrounds that were affected by the shooting in different ways and who continue to face discrimination based on their faith, sexual orientation, ethnicity and/or race.

Their discussion is summarized below, and offers advice for any community to overcome fear of the other and welcome diversity.

Watch the event

Fear is not the answer

Xenophobic sentiments have been increasing in communities across the United States over the past months and the fact that the perpetrator of the Orlando shooting was a Muslim of Afghan descent produced a new wave across Florida, especially targeted at the Muslim community - children were bullied in school because of their background, a mosque was set on fire, and some tried to pit LGBT, Latino, and Muslim communities against one another.

Ms. Mubarak from CAIR Florida shared her very personal experience of watching Muslim friends and neighbors be too scared to leave their houses in the days after the shooting and attendees of mosques feeling even more targeted than before. Simultaneously, residents across Florida expressed fear of Muslim community members and Muslim refugees being resettled in the state.

Panelists emphasized that this fear on either side cannot be the answer. Ms. Mubarak said she and a group of other Muslim women made sure to go to the scene of the shooting and distribute water bottles and help the victims and their families to show that community support knows no boundaries defined by faith, race, or sexual orientation.

Fear will divide us even further and create mistrust, which ultimately prohibits us from creating inclusive, functioning communities.

We can do more than tolerate each other

Panelists also made the point that tolerance of one another should not be the way to move forward. Tolerance is too passive, unengaged, and ineffective in the process of building communities. We need to accept that we may come from different religious and cultural backgrounds, our sexual orientations may differ, and we do not need to agree on everything or expect people to share our ways of life.

While tolerance is a passive approach, acceptance actively calls for individuals to get to know their neighbor, to leave their comfort zone, and learn about different ways of life, cultures, and faiths. Acceptance is not always easy, but it is absolutely crucial and truly rewarding.

Managing fear and welcoming diversity

Panelists also provided practical advice and steps to move forward from a community tragedy, manage our own fear and the fear of others, and celebrate the diversity of our communities.

Five ways to manage fear

  • Come together as one in the face of crisis and tragedy
  • Provide more balanced media coverage and hold news outlets accountable
  • Understand that fear after an event like a mass shooting is a perfectly normal response but that it should not be directed toward a group of people
  • Recognize that one person can never represent a whole community of people and we should stop generalizing
  • Stop “othering” people and focus on similarities between people rather than differences

Five ways to welcome diversity

  • Seek dialogue with others to learn about their faith, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc.
  • Educate institutions like law enforcement, schools, and healthcare providers on the different groups in your community and their specific needs and challenges
  • Invite others to your events to let them see what your community is about first-hand
  • Call out xenophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric and stand up for others
  • Bring together marginalized groups to create larger, stronger communities

More resources for building welcome

Stand Together: A toolkit for advocates, service providers, and supporters to address the backlash toward refugees and Muslim Americans, and to help you proactively engage with community leaders and neighbors.

Neighbors Together: A collection of promising practices to counter anti-refugee and anti-Muslim backlash and work towards a positive vision for our communities that demonstrate how: building meaningful contact between diverse populations; positive communications strategies; and engaging civic and community leaders can help create a climate in which all people can thrive.

Guest blog by Paula Roetscher, Welcoming Gainesville

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Add your Welcoming Week event for a chance to win free photoshoot!

Welcoming America | August 26, 2016

Will you help us reach 500 events scheduled for Welcoming Week? Add your local event to our Welcoming Week map (potluck, festival, soccer game, etc) by 5 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Sept. 1, and then share your event post on Welcoming America’s Facebook page using #WelcomingWeek, for a chance to win a free photo shoot at your Welcoming Week event! In the Facebook post, explain why your event will inspire others through a photo shoot.

If you’ve already added your Welcoming Week event to our map - thank you! You can still enter the contest by sharing your event post on our Facebook page, telling us why your event will inspire other through a photo shoot and using #WelcomingWeek.

Our communities are strengthened and enriched by the contributions of all residents, including immigrants and refugees. Let’s show the world the this is who we are as a nation.

All entries must be received by 5 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Sept. 1, to be considered for this contest. The winner will be selected from those who have shared their event on our Facebook page during the contest.

The winner will be announced on Tuesday, Sept. 6, on our Facebook page, and Welcoming America will contact the winner in advance of the public announcement.

The Prize

Welcoming America will hire a photographer in the winner’s local community for up to four (4) hours during the winner’s Welcoming Week event. Welcoming America will draft a contract with the photographer and pay all associated photographer fees up to $1,200. Welcoming America will retain full rights to the photographs taken and will share these rights with contest winner.

Official Rules

All participants, by virtue of their entry, agree to be bound by the following terms and conditions.

Sponsors. This contest is brought to you by Welcoming America. Contest sponsor can be reached by mail at: Welcoming America, P. O. Box 2554, Decatur, GA 30031.

Eligible Participants. Participants must be a U.S. resident of at least 13 years of age or older to enter. Welcoming America staff and their immediate families or persons living in their households are not eligible to enter or win.

How to Enter. Participants will be entered into the contest when they share their Welcoming Week event post to Welcoming America’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WelcomingAmerica, sharing why their event would inspire people through a photoshoot and using #WelcomingWeek as specified above. Contest begins on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, at 12 p.m. EDT and ends on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, at 5 p.m. EDT. All entries must be shared on Facebook by 5 p.m. EDT on Sept. 1, 2016, to be considered for the contest. Events must be submitted to our website at least 24 hours ahead of the contest deadline; you will receive a notification when your event has been published.

The winner will be notified on their Facebook post to the Welcoming America Facebook page by 5:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016, and then contacted by Welcoming America to set up the photo shoot at their Welcoming Week event. Welcoming America is not responsible for malfunctions or errors in submitting content via Facebook.

Revocation of prize. If a winner is not able to claim his or her prize within one week of notification,  if the winner fails to provide proper identification, or if an announced winner is determined to be an ineligible participant, then in any such case Welcoming America shall declare the prize forfeited and proceed to choose another winner based on the evaluation criteria from the remaining eligible entries.

Release of Liability. Entrants agree that Welcoming America shall not be responsible or liable for any losses, damages, or injuries of any kind resulting from participation in the contest; any contest-related activity; or from participants’ acceptance, receipt, possession and/or use or misuse of the prize, and have not made any warranty, representation or guarantee express or implied, in fact or in law, with respect to the prize, including, without limitation, to such prize’s quality or fitness for a particular purpose.

Decisions are final. The decisions of Welcoming America concerning any and all matters with respect to this contest shall be final. Welcoming America is not responsible for telecommunications systems and/or other submission failures that might impede a participant’s ability to enter this contest. Lost, late, undelivered, or illegible entries will not be considered for entry.

Reservation of rights. Welcoming America reserves the final judgment on all matters pertaining to this contest including the right to change or modify the rules or prize or to discontinue or extend the contest without prior notice. Should Welcoming America become aware of any hacking, security breaches, or other misconduct, Welcoming America reserves the right to discontinue the contest immediately. In the event Welcoming America chooses to discontinue the contest, the winner may be determined from eligible entries at the time of cessation.

Responsibility for taxes and other costs associated with winning. Winner shall assume any and all responsibility as to federal, state, or local taxes due in connection with the prize. Winner will also assume any and all additional costs in connection with using prizes as awarded.

Applicable law. This contest and corresponding rules are governed by Georgia law, and any dispute or litigation arising from this contest must be brought in a court of competent jurisdiction in Dekalb County, Georgia. This contest is subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws. Participants hold all responsibility to comply with any applicable federal, state, or local laws in connection with their entry.

Publicity. The prize winner grants Welcoming America full and unlimited permission to use the prize winner’s personality, including the prize winner’s name, likenesses, and creative entries for promotion and publicity purposes, including all advertising, promotions, and features without further compensation in perpetuity.

Facebook not affiliated. This contest is not sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or in any associated with Facebook. Participants fully release Facebook from any liability or claims which might arise from their participation in this contest. Participant understands that all information provided for this contest is provided to Welcoming America and not Facebook.

Miscellaneous. Void where prohibited. No purchase or other valuable consideration necessary to enter or win.

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The YMCA will host 50 Welcoming Week events! Will you partner with us too?

Welcoming America | August 18, 2016

"At the Y, we believe communities are strongest when everyone feels valued, has support to reach their potential and can fully participate in society. The Y has a long history of serving immigrants and receiving communities, and we participate in Welcoming Week because it is a meaningful way to bring people together to celebrate the benefits of welcoming everyone and building bridges for more vibrant, cohesive communities."

- Kevin Washington, President and CEO, YMCA of the USA

YMCA of the USA and Welcoming America share a vision of building more inclusive and welcoming communities where new Americans and long-term residents can all thrive. This year, we are excited that the Y - founded in the United States in 1851 and one of the country’s largest nonprofits - will join more than 20 other organizations as an official Welcoming Week partner, and the Y will host more than 50 events across the country.

The Y's cause is to strengthen communities and YMCAs work every day to make sure that everyone - regardless of who they are or where they come from - has the opportunity to reach their full potential. The Y's Welcoming Week events will bring people together in a spirit of unity, to celebrate our diversity and the importance of being inclusive for stronger, more cohesive communities.

Partner with Us

Welcoming America invites you to partner with us for Welcoming Week, an annual series of hundreds of local events that celebrate the contributions of immigrants and refugees and the role communities play to foster greater welcome. Welcoming Week is Sept. 16-25 across the country - and now expanding to other parts of the world. 

There has never been a more important time for immigrant and refugee communities to know that they are valued, and Welcoming Week is a demonstration of how many places and institutions like the Y are joining with us and the welcoming movement to act on that belief. 

Will you to follow the lead of the Y and partner with Welcoming America for Welcoming Week? Your community will be stronger for it. Organizations can serve as local hosts or national partners. Learn more about partnering and check out our other national partners.

Host an Event Find an Event Sponsor Partner

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6 inspiring ideas for your Welcoming Week event

Welcoming America | August 15, 2016

Photo Credit: University of North Florida

We know that you get it: our communities are strengthened and enriched by the contributions of all residents, including immigrants and refugees.

But will you help us show the rest of the world - especially in the midst of divisive political rhetoric - that our communities want to be welcoming to everyone?

You can make a difference by holding a Welcoming Week event in your community, joining hundreds of communities this Sept. 16-25, in a united front to say: We are a welcoming nation.

Each community that participates in Welcoming Week celebrates in its own unique way, from sports to festivals to open houses to naturalization ceremonies.

How will you celebrate Welcoming Week? Here are a few ideas already in the works to inspire your planning:

1. Throw a festival

The Tampa Bay Refugee Task Force is hosting their annual Welcoming Week Festival. The popular festival celebrates the local contributions of refugees and immigrants and builds new relationships among the university, newly arrived refugee families, and longtime residents.

“Events like this provide participants with a localized understanding of the refugee experience and encourage true connections across cultures. Every year, we hear of new friendships formed and gatherings held after the event, so we know that there is an ongoing impact,” said the event host.

2. Host a Twitter Chat

The Levine Museum of the New South is holding a Twitter chat to engage community members in a discussion about how to build a more welcoming community in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Twitter has been a useful tool for them to engage in dialogue on important topics without the commitment of an in-person event. “Twitter has been very useful in amplifying our reach and creating dialogue, it has given us the opportunity to connect and engage with our online audience,” said the event host.

Welcoming America will participate in the live Twitter chat to further amplify the discussion’s reach. We can lift up your event, too – add your event to our map, and let us know if we can help.

3. Organize a naturalization workshop

The Latin American Association of North Carolina is hosting a citizenship workshop in partnership with local county government, and. elected officials will show their solidarity by filling out naturalization applications on behalf of the future U.S. citizens. This unique approach engaging local officials will help new Americans feel welcomed by all levels of their community.

It’s likely that some of the eight million people eligible for U.S. citizenship may live in your community. Hosting a naturalization workshop is a great way to make them feel a welcomed part of your community.

Learn more about their event and explore CLINIC’s workshop toolkit to get started.

4. Create an interactive exhibit

Build understanding through an art exhibit featuring immigrant communities in your city. A great example comes from the YMCA of Greater Louisville: Through their interactive map exhibit and informational posters, they will highlight community members’ countries of origin and cultures to build understanding and welcome their new neighbors.      

“We are doing it in a fun, active, and informative way with activities for immigrant and American-born members of the community of all ages,” said the event host. Read more about their exhibit.

5. Hold a soccer tournament

Through the international language of soccer, you can celebrate diversity and build bridges among all residents of your community. The Charism Center is hosting a Welcoming Week World Cup Tournament to engage a wide variety of community members, including a first responder team and a local semi-pro soccer player. They also will hold a mini soccer camp for those new to the game. Their tournament isn’t only for those who are experienced or are looking to play; they also have included other activities like face painting and food for sale. Read more about the tournament.

6. Screen a film

Show a film, or several, that highlight the stories of groups in your community like this film being shown about the Eritrean exodus. “The film provides detailed insight into the challenges of Eritrean refugees and shares their daily struggles. By revealing their hardships, it is our hope that the community will relate to the plight of a refugee on a basic human level and begin a dialogue for reaching out to these often forgotten groups,” said the event host.

Need more inspiration for your Welcoming Week event? Read through our toolkit where you will find more event ideas, a sample press release, planning tools, and more. You can also check out our event list for inspiration too. Once you’re ready to announce your event, be sure to register it with us.

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