Twelve initiatives to promote integration in 2020
Immigrant Integration is most successful at the local level. Working with your neighbors, local organizations and local officials to cultivate and foster a community of diversity and inclusivity ensures everyone feels safe, welcomed and at home. Here are several ways to promote immigrant integration in your community for the New Year and beyond!
Initiate monthly community walks with your local officials and community members! For example, the community in Boulder, Colorado, created Boulder Walks. These community walks allow residents of the city to stay active and explore their neighborhoods all while getting to know one another. The community walks are family- and pet-friendly and provide the perfect opportunity to connect with local officials. Mary Young, a member of the Boulder County Council, uses her walks to highlight the needs and interests of Spanish-speaking residents while simultaneously providing English translations to non-Spanish speakers.
During a community event, with a big group or small, you can get to know your immigrant neighbors by playing Story Stich by Green Card Voices. This game was designed as a guide for storytelling that helps grow relationships and build empathy between people of different cultural backgrounds. Created by and for the community, this card game offers the opportunity for each player to share a story while other players have the chance to engage or build on the story told.
Connect with local non-profits working with the immigrant and refugee population through education and resources! For example, the Maryland Immigrant Rights Coalition hosts an annual event to connect immigrants and long-time residents. This free event is open to all who are interested in learning about resources available to immigrants or becoming a volunteer. So many organizations could use your help! To find a non-profit in your area, visit CLINIC’s affiliate directory.
Together we are stronger! Engage with your local officials and encourage them to promote integration. Check out the Center for Immigrant Integration’s resources to learn the basic components of establishing a relationship and working with your local government.
Connect your hobbies and the community to showcase the diversity in your locality! For example, photographer Michelle Cardamone captured the stories of friendships between teachers and students attending English as a Second Language classes at Intercambio: Uniting Communities.
If you aren’t feeling artsy, try volunteering at a non-profit organization to teach ESL or citizenship classes. Visit U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to find a program near you!
Celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month with your community by attending a local event. For example, the City of Philadelphia hosts an annual event to bring together immigrant communities and long-time residents. Immigrant Heritage Month is the perfect opportunity to explore other cultures, learn and grow!
Celebrate Independence Day several ways. Attend a naturalization ceremony and celebrate America’s newest citizens! Invite your neighbors over for a multicultural 4th of July cookout and try different foods. Lastly, create a safe space and encourage your immigrant neighbors to share their journey to the United States. For some, this may be their very first Independence Day.
Attend a fundraiser or participate in community events that support non-profits whose mission is to help the immigrant community. CLINIC affiliate Latin American Coalition hosts an annual City of Immigrants 5K marathon. Members of the community gather to celebrate their heritage and the city’s immigrants.
Thousands of people and organizations celebrate Welcoming Week every September! You can host your own welcoming event using Welcoming America's Event Host Toolkit. Alternatively, join an organization hosting a community-wide event. For example, the American Alliance of Museums hosts performances, resource fairs and guest speakers, and the YMCA holds multiple activities during this week.
Attend a local or national conference! CLINIC affiliate Immigration and American Citizenship Organization hosts an annual Immigrant Integration Day where organizations, officials and community members come together to connect with immigrants and refugees. Conferences are a perfect opportunity for networking while offering convenient access to various resources from multiple organizations.
Combine traditions or make new ones! Every year, CLINIC affiliate, FaithAction International House hosts their largest annual bridge-building event – their Multicultural Thanksgiving. The event brings hundreds of community members together. They laugh, they eat, they share stories… and friendships blossom.
As we prepare for another year, take a moment to reflect on the history of the United States and the changes we have gone through to create a more inclusive, welcoming and integrated community. We must celebrate diversity in its many ways. High fives need no translation!
Do you have a great story or initiative to highlight? Share with us how your community promotes immigrant integration.