Welcoming the Stranger

The news is filled with stories of immigrants and refugees in Europe. However, this is nothing new to those of us in the United States.  We've been a nation of immigrants since our beginning. Now is a great time for us to continue to lead the way in not just acceptance, but providing hope and dignity to people removed from their homes. 

This is an issue near to the heart of many of us in the apartment industry.  Lots of immigrants live in apartments.  They have different customs, different languages, they cook different food with different smells and they often keep to themselves.  This kind of behavior can make them seem aloof or different.

Thankfully there are many working to help refugees and immigrants get integrated in their new homes.  One such organization, called Abounding Service has connected with a specific apartment community in Phoenix and together they are trying to break down barriers and cycles of fear and poverty in these populations.  It begins with language learning and help with navigating the American system.  And it has introduced volunteers to some of the most amazing people.  Like Rose Mapendo.  Rose is an immigrant from the Congo who lived through tremendous loss. Rose lived in an apartment community and spoke broken English so she couldn't let people know that she was the recipient of the UN's Humanitarian of the Year award.  Or, that she was the feature of a documentary about immigrants called Pushing the Elephant.  Or that she had a foundation that works to help nations pursue peace and reconciliation. 

Knowing Rose has changed my life. And there are many more Rose's than you can imagine.  How might you work to eliminate barriers among neighbors who are so different from each other?  How might you better celebrate global diversity in your community?