The chaotic mass evacuation of Afghanistan, in the wake of the United States’ 20-year military engagement there, has brought new attention to the plight of refugees. In fact, families fleeing war, persecution, famine and other hardships have always been a part of the American story; immigrants have contributed more to our country than we can possibly calculate, but we haven’t always embraced newcomers with open arms.
“Belonging Begins With Us” is the theme of Welcoming Week, Sept. 10-19, a national effort to “bring together neighbors of all backgrounds to build strong connections and affirm the importance of welcoming and inclusive places in achieving collective prosperity.”
Our friends at Cincinnati Compass are teaming up with community groups and partners across the region to promote Welcoming Week as a time to celebrate new neighbors from all over the world, and all the richness they bring to our local communities. They’re hosting a fun event this Friday evening at Lunken Airport, with international music, food, and fellowship.
Getting to know our new neighbors, listening to their stories, exploring their cultures–these can be first steps in understanding and empathy. We hope all our students and families will use Welcoming Week as an opportunity for learning, connection, and positive action.
One major organization serving new arrivals from Afghanistan and elsewhere is Catholic Charities. You you can help the local chapter in their refugee resettlement efforts by donating, volunteering, and by being an advocate: “Stand in solidarity by your voice and participation. We need caring advocates to spread the word and mobilize supporters” (from the Catholic Charities website).
And the Welcoming Week organization has a whole toolkit of ways to make #BelongingBeginsWithUs more than a hashtag. Get busy welcoming, and share your experiences with us!