Welcoming Week is a national YMCA initiative that takes place each year from September 10–19. Welcoming Week celebrates the growing number of communities that embrace immigrants and their contributions to the United States on social, cultural, and economic levels.
It's often said that the US is a melting pot, and it's true! Adults, seniors, teens, and kids come to this country for a myriad of reasons. Some may visit for a shorter period of time as students or temporary workers. Others may seek refuge or a different way of life and move to the United States permanently. While all newcomers collectively share the common bond of being born outside of the country, as individuals their goals, needs, and the skills they bring to our country are very diverse.
- About 40 million people who live in the United States weren't born here, meaning roughly 13% of our population includes men, women, and children from across the globe.
- In the US, one in four kids under the age of six is a child of immigrants. These parents and their first-generation sons and daughters make up a little more than 26% of the total US population!
- According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are approximately 19.5 million refugees in the world and 51% of all refugees are children under the age of 18.
Ways to Support Local and National Immigrant Communities
Even though the YMCA's Welcoming Week only rolls around once a year, there are numerous ways you can start or continue to support people who have chosen to make the United States their home!
Bring the World into Your Kitchen
Food is a gateway for conversation and a great way to share culture among people with different backgrounds and identities. That's why Welcoming America created "Taste of Belonging" a cookbook that pairs recipes from diverse cultures with activities that can help educate everyone with case studies, personal stories, and themes like implementing community gardens.
Learn a New Language
Learning to speak a new language won't happen overnight, but it's a skill that's increasingly valuable as more and more people from around the globe move to the US. Not only will it be beneficial for everyday tasks, but it can also make newcomers feel more welcomed into the country! Using services like Duolingo or Rosetta Stone, you can go at your own pace to master a language or simply make sure you know how to say "Hello" in a few different ways.
Support Immigrant-run Businesses
We have a unique blend of immigrant communities nestled within Central Florida! Whether you shop for home decor, trinkets, clothes and jewelry, or food, buying directly from an immigrant-owned business is a great way to show support for their families and also help expand your own horizons.
Explore Immigrant Stories
One of the best ways to become more empathetic and learn more about how you can support immigrants is by paying attention to their stories. The American Writers Museum put together this Immigrant Heritage Month Booklist for 2021, and it has a variety of stories detailing immigrants' perspectives and their take on the American Dream.
You can also explore the Immigrant Experience Project. This interactive digital experience takes you through a different path depending on which character you choose. Although the characters are fictional, the stories are based on real laws and historically documented situations. This platform allows you to see how you would respond to the choices they faced.