Welcoming Week to unite local community through celebrating immigrant contributions


Austin Yattoni

Spencer Shea, Basio Sema, and Joshua Geyer, workers for the French artist JR, put up photographs of University of Illinois students and Champaign-Urbana residents on the side of the University YMCA building at 1001 South Wright St. on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. The pictures are part of an international art project called Inside Out that supports immigrants and dreamers.

By The Daily Illini Staff Report

The University YMCA and local organizations will be celebrating Welcoming Week to bring together immigrants and U.S. born residents from Sept. 14 to Sept. 23.

Welcoming Weeks are national initiatives led by Welcoming America, a non-profit organization promoting inclusion in communities. Champaign County’s Welcoming Week is coordinated by the New American Welcome Center at the University YMCA.

“There will be great opportunity to learn about the challenges of living in an increasingly diverse society. Additionally, there are many fun activities and opportunities to grow beyond our individual and collective identities,” Sam Smith, University YMCA board member, said.

Over two dozen different organizations in the county will host events throughout the week in celebration of inclusion and immigrant contributions to the community.

The Spurlock Museum at the University will contribute to Welcoming Week with a free concert by Karuna, a music trio that seeks to inspire audiences through a spirited dialogue.

“Welcoming Week is the perfect fit for a museum that looks at human life and culture throughout the world and seeks to help local residents build an understanding of cultural diversity,” said Kim Sheahan, assistant director of education at the museum, said.

Shehan also said that the museum frequently collaborates with the YMCA on multicultural events, so it was only natural they also partner with them for Welcome Week.

The week will peak with the Fifth Annual Immigrant Welcome Awards on Sept. 22, where the City of Champaign and the City of Urbana will give a joint proclamation declaring Sept. 14 to Sept. 23 Welcoming Week in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.

“Universities are places of learning, and (Welcoming) Week provides opportunities for students to reflect on all elements of their identities and their fields of study and to learn about all of the amazing people and projects happening on campus,” Smith said.

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