Its Welcoming Week! What exactly does this mean? While every week should be “welcoming”, this week is particularly exciting.
For those of you not familiar with the Welcoming Initiative, it is a movement started in Shelbyville, Tennessee, that has spread to 14 states and various towns within those states. From Louisiana to Michigan to Massachusetts (and Framingham in particular!) we are working hard to Unite Neighbors and Celebrate Diversity. http://www.welcomingamerica.org/ It began when Somali refugees settled in Shelbyville, clashing with those who had, up until then, called Shelbyville home. A Mexican-American couple remembered all too well when they were the targets of misunderstanding and hate. An African American lady remembered when she was the target of slurs and hate. They reached out to the Somalis, they ate together, they drank tea together, they asked each other uncomfortable yet honest questions and they came closer to understanding one another. Together, they started a movement, Welcoming America, for other communities in the United States facing a changing demographic to follow in the understanding of one another and hopefully to replace hate, slurs, and misunderstandings with questions, dialogue, and of course – food. Welcoming Shelbyville, a great documentary for all ages, will be showing next at the Milford Public Library tomorrow (9/20/2012) at 7pm and, really, it is worth watching.
We are proud and honored to have Governor Deval Patrick on our side as he signed a proclamation officially naming this week "Welcoming Week" in Massachusetts. The proclamation states, in part, "...We must create welcoming communities that leverage the full potential of all who live there and capitalize on diverse perspectives, cultures and talents.... During National Welcoming Week, we encourage all residents of the Commonwealth to celebrate the spirit of welcoming and coming together to build communities where every resident has the opportunity to contribute his or her best"
The day began with a breakfast at Framingham State University where our Representative, Tom Sannicandro, spoke about his own Italian heritage and how his family has worked hard to secure a future for the coming generations here in Framingham. Later we unveiled our own Framingham video celebrating one another and, most of all, celebrating this country that we all call home. To make the video, we asked those who have made the US their home what they love about living here and those who were born here what they appreciate about their immigrant friends. Some are comical, like “I like parties”. Others are thought provoking, like “I am never hungry here.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGQ7b_ADkAY&feature=g-upl
The day continued with FSU students and other volunteers collaborating with local businesses to get our message out – that everyone is welcome in Framingham. We hope you will notice the signs on the downtown businesses with that message and go in to stores that you previously have not been into. Don't be intimidated by seeming differences. Go in to the stores, talk to the owners and ask them about what they do, where they are from, and maybe you will be surprised about how much we all have in common and how welcoming your neighbor is. http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/features/x726714446/PHOTOS-Downtown-Framingham-initiative-welcomes-immigrants-and-non-immigrants
We hope to have further events where we bring our community together and learn from one another through dialogue, honest questions and answers, laughter, discussions, debates, and, you already know the last one – food.