By Migwe Kimemia
The University of Dayton students organized the “Creating Inclusive Community Conference” on March 5, 2016. The main purpose of the conference was to raise public awareness about cultural diversity, racial justice and student engagement in Dayton.
The organizers invited me to be one of the panelists for a workshop entitled, “Inclusionary Significance of the Welcome Dayton Immigrant Friendly Initiative.” The workshop was focused on sharing organizational initiatives and insights that would enable participants to understand the impact of the Welcome Dayton Initiative.
“Dayton has come to play a leading role in regional and national efforts to create welcoming cities, becoming part of a broader social movement that has been quite successful in pushing back against exclusionary immigration law and policies,” observed Dr. Theo Majka, Facilitator and Welcome Dayton Committee member.
“Attending this conference reminded me of how proud I am to live in Dayton," said Martha Mutiti, AFSC Dayton Program Intern. "I believe this city will rise against prejudice, discrimination and racism with each person’s awareness of the issues immigrants face.”
I was particularly excited about the conference partly because its title and themes were consistent with AFSC-Dayton Program’s Global Village Initiative, whose goal is to raise public awareness with a view to transforming Dayton into a global village of peace and prosperity for all residents. AFSC’s vision states, among other things, that “we work toward a world in which communities and societies fractured by exclusion and marginalization are healed and transformed, embracing inclusion and equality.”
I strongly believe that students and youth have a special responsibility of creating a welcoming culture in their communities, colleges and schools. To me this conference revealed the fact that student leadership is critical to sustaining a nascent movement, such as the Welcoming Communities Movement in this country.
Migwe Kimemia directs AFSC's program work in Dayton. For more information and to get involved, please contact Migwe at MKimemia@afsc.org.