Saturday, November 8, 2014

Immersion. Investment. Inclusion.

Cultural Diversity 101

Community Relations and Program Development Supervisor Kelly Moore greeted our group in the lobby of the International Institute. She opens with a question, “Who is brave enough to tell the group the difference between an immigrant and a refugee?” There are, of course, important distinctions as the key difference is that a refugee is forced into circumstances as an immigrant is not. She offers an overview that begins with visual aids – a global map; a chart listing countries of which the Institute has seen and helped people; and lists of services. She encourages us to visit the website; look for information about the Festival of Nations and consider the website as a resource for learning about unique culturally diverse events.

Kelly’s tour showed us areas where classroom language instruction takes place. She showed us an area that focuses on employment. She even noted the Institutes work with small business loans/assistance for “New Americans.” The overview/tour she assured us would be more fully explained on the website but she reinforced the message about the The Institute’s highly-acclaimed programs are arranged in THREE SERVICE PILLARS: Immersion, Investment and Inclusion. The website offers the following information about the organization:

The International Institute, established in 1919, is a pioneer in the field of diversity. In all our comprehensive array of adjustment services reaches more than 7,500 immigrants and refugees from 75 countries, approximately 8% of the St. Louis City and County 2010 foreign-born population.
As a result, the Institute has important multigenerational ties to local immigrant communities. Our programs and services are locally and nationally-acclaimed. We also have deep knowledge of the state of the immigrant communities and population trends. We serve as key consultants on a broad range of issues affecting the social, cultural and economic health of our region. Our mission is to help immigrants and their families become productive Americans and champion ethnic diversity as a cultural and economic strength.

The Institute will be celebrating 95 years of service in resettlement and integration to nearly every immigrant population (Immersion). It offers a variety of business counseling and advice and facilitates business loans (Investment). It orchestrates an annual event, The Festival of Nations and promotes understanding of different cultures in a variety of other ways.(Inclusion).
Kelly Moore could not contain her enthusiasm for all the good work the International Institute does and assured us that she could talk about it for days. She made this statement, conveniently enough, in front of a bulletin board that outlined again for us the THREE SERVICE PILLARS…Immersion, Investment, Inclusion.

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