About Welcoming Week
Welcoming America is a nonprofit organization which focuses on cultivating an inclusive environment, especially for people who are immigrants. From certified welcoming programs for local governments to annual conferences for sharing successful immigrant stories, Welcoming America is dedicated to providing resources to foster encouraging and empowering communities for immigrants.
Welcoming Week, a core initiative of Welcoming America, will take place September 8-17, 2023, and is a time to connect with diverse communities and reflect on the importance of inclusivity. In past years, they have overseen thousands of events across several states in an effort to create a sense of belonging for all. What started as a small collection of events in U.S. communities has since expanded to reach more than 400 events annually across the world, signaling the broad commitment to welcoming values.
What Does it Mean to Be Welcoming?
In the Summer/Fall 2023, we are grappling with how to welcome newcomers and address the needs of thousands of asylum seekers who are arriving in cities such as New York, Chicago, Denver, Boston and other cities across the U.S. People are in need of housing/shelter, health care, education, work and other services. The current situation has taken place because migrants are being bused from border cities and states to some of these cities and in addition, tens of thousands of additional migrants have arrived in these and other cities on their own or with the help of authorities and volunteers in U.S. border towns. The influx of those seeking asylum provides an opportunity for community members and residents to help welcome and support these newcomers in a variety of ways.
Most people have experienced being “new” in a place or space that is unfamiliar. Whether that’s being new to a class or school, new in a neighborhood or community, a new member of a club or class, new at a job, new to certain digital spaces, or new to a country—being new is part of the human condition. Feeling welcomed, and welcoming others in those new places, can have multiple layers and go beyond just meeting and greeting others.
Welcoming others can mean going the extra mile to make sure someone doesn’t feel excluded, ignored or marginalized. It means helping all, especially those who are new or in unfamiliar places, feel seen, visible, and treated with respect. Welcoming should also include inviting people to bring the different aspects of their identity to that place, and letting them know they will be included, understood and accepted for who they are. It also means that we acknowledge differences among people and work towards equity so that everyone can feel part of that community, have a sense of belonging, and know that they will be treated equitably.
As we celebrate Welcoming Week, let’s remember #WhereWeBelong. Our sense of belonging is tied to the places and spaces that we live, work, and rest in. It is what motivates us to build a greater “we” — because we each know what it means to not belong somewhere, we are even more empowered to help foster belonging for others.