U.S., Australian participants selected for exchange program between rural communities

, U.S., Australian participants selected for exchange program between rural communities

As part of Welcoming America’s continued work in fostering rural leadership in welcoming and inclusion, we are thrilled to announce the 16 participants selected for the forthcoming Rural Welcoming Communities Exchange program (RWCE):

U.S. participants:

  • Celeste Koppe of the West Central Initiative (Fergus Falls, NE)
  • Fatima Said of Project FINE (Winona, MN)
  • David Kramer of the City of St. Charles, Minnesota
  • Elizabeth Rodriguez of Centro Hispano Comunitario de Nebraska
  • Marilyn Schacht of Crete Public Schools
  • Nancy Tellez of the City of Crete, Nebraska
  • Siham Amedy of Human Rights Commission, City of Moorhead, Minnesota
  • Tara Vasicek of the City of Columbus, Nebraska

Australian participants:

  • Cassandra White of the Paroo Shire Council
  • Ko Yeh Talor of the Ararat Rural City Council
  • Rhett McDonald of the Tatiara District Council
  • Peta MacRae of the Mount Isa City Council
  • Phillip Barwick of the Mount Isa City Council
  • Rachael Johnson of the Paroo Shire Council
  • Timothy McDougall of the Ararat Rural City Council
  • Tracey Grosser of the Tatiara District Council

The RWCE is a reciprocal learning exchange opportunity for immigrant inclusion practitioners and policymakers working in rural localities in the U.S. and Australia. Participants will engage in in-person and virtual international exchanges with peers, gaining understanding of local approaches to social, economic, and civic inclusion, as well as the well-being of immigrants in each country within a rural context.

U.S.-based participants were primarily selected from among Welcoming America’s membership network of nonprofits and local governments; Australian participants were selected in partnership with Welcoming Australia and its Welcoming Cities program. Both organizations are partners in the Welcoming International Alliance, a coalition of national welcoming networks convened by Welcoming America as part of its Welcoming International initiative.

The RWCE begins this March and will continue through October 2023. Program highlights include attendance at the 2023 Welcoming Interactive in San José, California; a community visit to the Central Valley of California; Welcoming Week peer review workshop and events; and a community visit to Australia.

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This past year, Welcoming America administered the US-Italy Welcoming Communities Exchange in cooperation with the International Rescue Committee and Refugees Welcome Italia with the support of the U.S. Embassy in Rome. The exchange brought together migrant inclusion practitioners for meaningful peer-to-peer learning about community navigator and mentoring models in the U.S. and Italy.

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