When Welcoming Refugees Becomes a Growth Experience

Solutions Journalism Network

North America still lives up to its melting-pot reputation in the communities that welcome refugees and other immigrants. State governments, organizations, and individuals work to support these newcomers and integrate them into the fabric of their communities, while also helping community members themselves understand and gain from their new neighbors.

The stories in this collection feature ways, large and small, that different cities have successfully embraced refugees by making them feel at home. David Bornstein wrote about different welcoming initiatives in Tennessee and Missouri, like community dinners and training community ambassadors "to bring people together across racial and ethnic lines" by conducting outreach to the receiving community and opening up a space for them to vent frustrations, concerns, and fears. In Toronto, Canada, Jodi Kantor and Catrin Einhorn chronicled how different Canadians have enthusiastically signed up to sponsor incoming refugee families long-term. The process has not been without its difficulties as both Canadians and refugees faced and overcame significant differences in cultures and languages by maintaining mutual respect and a desire to understand. In Minnesota, Faiza Mahamud wrote about how local governments are using Somalian community liaisons to build a two-way street of trust and understanding with newly arrived Somalians, who have a different cultural understanding and misconceptions of how U.S. government, law enforcement, and schools operate. Noble Ingram shared how schools in Portland, Maine, started to incorporate refugees with backgrounds in teaching into local schools, filling a need for more teachers and increasing diversity in the classroom.