How can I welcome refugees?

How can I welcome refugees? Eight ways to welcome refugees to your community

1) Learn how to pronounce newcomer names

One important thing you can to do help newcomers feel welcome is learn how to pronounce their names. Learn tips on how to pronounce names that sound foreign to you.

2) Learn skills to begin volunteering in your own community

Complete our free online training program to learn how to effectively volunteer with refugees. When you are done, search our “In Your City” database to find a local organization to support in your town.

3) Be prepared to listen to the concerns of established residents in your communities

Your most challenging role as an advocate for newcomers will be among less welcoming members of your own community. Being a good advocate means listening with respect to the fears and worries of non-welcoming community members. If you dismiss their concerns as prejudice or selfishness, you will not win hearts and minds.

Instead, acknowledge that things are changing, and find out what their wishes are. Remind them that refugees come because they are trying to get away from terror and conflict, not bring it with them, and that engaging people and making them feel welcome is the best prevention. Reminders of immigrant ancestors are also helpful with some groups.

You can also highlight the positives that immigrants bring with them. Find common ground by identifying similar values that refugees have with non-welcoming community members – work ethic and resilience, religious and traditional societies, family values – and build your advocacy around that. You will find there are plenty of things that some refugee groups have in common with the more conservative Americans, who may resent newcomers simply because they don’t understand them.

4) Buy a shirt and wear a message of welcome

You can wear a message of welcome when you are out and about in your city. The RCO sells shirts with the message “Welcome. This is your home, too” in eight different languages. Proceeds support our work. Buy a shirt now.

5) Work with your city and county officials to declare your community a Welcoming City

Welcoming America is national movement that encourages cities and towns to become more inclusive places.

6) Teach children about refugees both at school and at home

Teaching children about refugees can be a challenge but is also an important thing to do. Here are some ideas to help you talk to your children about refugees.

7) Hire refugees and learn inclusive employment practices

Research shows refugees are very valuable parts of the workforce. Hire them! We are adding refugee-friendly employers to our database. Email your name and company to: info@therefugeecenter.org so we can add you. Then, consider ways to promote English language learning on the job. Your company can give employees time during their work week to earn their GEDs using our free GED preparation course. If you are looking for additional support on how to hire and work with employees who are refugees or immigrants, you can find more resources and technical support from our friends at Higher Advantage.

8) Plan or attend an event for World Refugee Day or Welcoming Week

World Refugee Day (June 20th) is a day to celebrate the strength and resilience of refugees around the globe. Many communities across the United States host events during the month of  June. Welcoming Week is celebrated each September.  our friends at WeAreAllAmerica.org to find an event in your community.

Refugees shaking hands

Support programs that help refugees

By donating to the Refugee Center Online, you support technology and education that helps refugees succeed in the USA.

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