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Leggett and Local Officials Welcome German Delegation as part of the 2018 Welcoming Communities Transatlantic Exchange

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, May 1, 2018

County Executive Ike Leggett officially welcomed members of a German delegation that will be visiting Montgomery County for three days as part of the 2018 Welcoming Communities Transatlantic Exchange, an international network that shares welcoming initiatives to integrate newcomers in their communities.

“I am happy to host our friends from Germany as part of the Welcoming Communities Transatlantic Exchange program, said County Executive Ike Leggett. “I look forward to the visit and the exchanges that will take place.”

The professional exchange program annually convenes more than 40 professionals from the United States and Germany to share best practices and learn from one another about the reception and integration of immigrants and refugees at the local level.

During the official meet and greet Executive Leggett was joined by Office of Community Partnerships Director Bruce Adams, and Gilchrist Immigrant Resources Center Director Kaori Hirakawa.

This year marks the third year of the program where participants share refugee reception and integration strategies and best practices.

The 10-day visit to the United States will provide teams representing the German communities with a wide-ranging look into how various American cities welcome and integrate newcomers. The group will participate in site visits and meetings with their integration practitioner counterparts in the four communities:  Anchorage, Alaska; Boston, Massachusetts; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Montgomery County, Maryland.

While in Montgomery County, the German participants will be visiting and meeting with a number of immigrant integration practitioners to learn about community the advocacy and organization work of CASA and Impact Silver Spring, collaborative work to unite our community between Faith Community Working Group, Montgomery County Police Department and Montgomery County Public Schools, public-private partnerships from Linkages to Learning, and dialogue on racial and cultural barriers through Montgomery County Public Schools’ Study Circle model, access to services through the Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center.

Each community is represented by a team of individuals comprised of local government representatives, nonprofit organizations, refugee resettlement agencies, civil society and/or interfaith organizations. The teams were competitively selected based on the existing approaches and challenges to integration present within their respective communities, their eagerness to share best practices among an international network of peers, and their ability to collectively implement new welcoming initiatives through their participation in the program.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase not just the Gilchrist Center’s work, but also the work and efforts of many immigrant integration practitioners in Montgomery County,” said Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center Director Kaori Hirakawa.

In November, the Welcoming Communities Transatlantic Exchange participants from the United States will conduct a return visit to Germany to Landkreis Bautzen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Iserlohn, and Landkreis Teltow-Fläming. In addition to local site visits with their German peers, the group will convene in Berlin for a final conference to receive a federal overview and collectively discuss lessons learned and strategies for the application of welcoming initiatives in both countries.

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 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 BMWi Group.

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Release ID: 18-535
Media Contact: Lorna Virgili 240-777-6507