Lancaster, PA, USA: How can we ensure Immigrants’ true integration of talents and skills into our community

Saturday, March 31st, under the supervision of the Refugee Resettlement Program Agency called Church World Service – CWS in Lancaster PA, a panel ‘’ How can we ensure true integration of talents and skills into our community’’ took place in Life Sciences & Philosophy [LSP] Building on Franklin and Marshall College Campus.

Lancaster is considered today as the Refugee Capital of the USA. In 2014, refugees and immigrants contributed to the growth of Lancaster’s economy by creating 1026 businesses. However, President Trump’s rhetoric through the executive orders don’t help the image of immigrants in US.

Church World Service in collaboration with agencies such as ‘’Citizen’s Immigration & Refugee Action Committee – CIRAC, some churches and ‘’Welcome Teams’’ don’t only help to make possible the refugees’ and immigrants’ integration but also help to showcase their real image. There is always a reason behind the migration of people.

To know your neighbor is to know his story. Church World Service thinks that for the people of Lancaster to know the immigrants among them, stories must be told about the motives of the migration, the obstacles of the emigration and the challenges of the immigration in the new land. The panel tried to answer these questions: ‘Did they find the security that they dreamed of?  Was their new home a welcoming place? Did full integration become a reality for them? How did their past experiences shape their new identities? ‘’

Under the moderation of Amer Al Fayadh, Program Coordinator at Church World Service, Fatma Mohammad and Sami Muya from Somali and, Andy Kalala from Democratic Republic of Congo offered the narratives of their experiences to answer the questions above. Truth is, the streets of Lancaster County present today different and diverse faces from five continents and from multiple countries of the world. Lancaster opens its arms to hug those faces and the echo of its voice is: ‘’No matter where you come from, we welcome you’’.

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