WASHINGTON – Sixteen American integration professionals and public officials will travel to Germany for a nine-day, five-city visit, from September 23 to October 1, to learn about Germany’s approach to refugee integration. The visit is part of the Welcoming Communities Transatlantic Exchange (WCTE), a reciprocal exchange program bringing together integration practitioners from Germany and the United States to share ideas and best practices on welcoming and integrating refugees into their respective communities.
The U.S. delegation includes representatives from Atlanta and Clarkston, Georgia; Boise, Idaho; Columbus, Dayton, and Toledo, Ohio; and St. Louis, Missouri. This September, the group will visit their German partner communities in the cities of Mannheim and Stuttgart, both located in the southwest German state of Baden-Württemberg, as well as the city of Dresden and the rural villages of Altenberg and Pirna, located in former East Germany.
During the tour, the group will examine how local governments and organizations have responded to the more than one million displaced individuals who arrived in Germany over the past year. They will explore a myriad of topics including local approaches to housing; school and workforce integration; the accommodation of vulnerable populations; the role of interfaith organizations and existing immigrant organizations in connecting with refugees; and opportunities for collaboration between the private and public sector. Participants will also discuss the anti-immigrant sentiment that has emerged across communities in both countries, and work together to evaluate and identify effective responses.
The upcoming visit marks the second and final leg of this year’s program. This past April, 24 officials representing the aforementioned German communities traveled to the United States to meet and learn from their U.S. counterparts. This 12-day visit showcased a wide-ranging look into how American cities approach integration through a series of site visits and meetings with local governments, resettlement agencies, interfaith groups, local schools and employers, among others.
The inaugural year of the Welcoming Communities Transatlantic Exchange will culminate on September 29-30 as all 40 German and American participants convene in Berlin for a special two-day symposium hosted by the U.S. Embassy in Berlin and Cultural Vistas, which will feature U.S. Ambassador to Germany John B. Emerson.
This professional exchange program is set to continue over a period of at least three years (2016–2018), incorporating new communities in both countries each year. For more information on how to nominate a community or apply for the 2017 program, please visit culturalvistas.org/wcte.
The Welcoming Communities Transatlantic Exchange is administered by Cultural Vistas, in collaboration with Welcoming America and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung North America. The program is funded by the Transatlantic Program of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany through funds of the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi), as well as by the U.S. Department of State, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, and BMW Group.
About Cultural Vistas
Founded in 1963, Cultural Vistas is a nonprofit exchange organization promoting global understanding and collaboration among individuals and institutions. We develop international professional experiences that create more informed, skilled, and engaged citizens. Our programs empower people to drive positive change in themselves, their organizations, and society. Cultural Vistas is headquartered in New York with regional offices in Washington, D.C. and Berlin. Learn more at culturalvistas.org.
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About Welcoming America
Welcoming America is a U.S.-based organization that helps nonprofit and government leaders transform their communities into more welcoming places where all people can contribute to their greatest potential. Through a network of over 100 municipal and nonprofit partners, Welcoming America promotes local policies and practices that help immigrants participate in civic life and create economically and socially vibrant communities. Since its launch in 2009, Welcoming America has become a recognized national leader on immigrant inclusion and welcome, honored by the UN Alliance of Civilizations and BMW Group through the 2014 Intercultural Innovation Award, and as a “Champion of Change” by the White House. Learn more at welcomingamerica.org.
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About the Heinrich Böll Stiftung North America
The Heinrich Böll Stiftung North America is a 501(c)(3) organization based in Washington, DC and part of the German non-profit political foundation affiliated with the German Green Party. The Transatlantic Dialogue Program on Democracy and Social Policy of the Heinrich Böll Foundation North America brings together policymakers and civil society organizations from Europe and the U.S. to discuss developments that challenge our democracies and to develop solutions that promote a strong transatlantic partnership founded on inclusive democratic societies. Learn more at us.boell.org.
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