A Western University student team is actively promoting the 1000 Acts of Welcome challenge, an online campaign recently launched in efforts to engage London residents in creating a welcoming community for newcomers.
The London & Middlesex Local Immigration Partnership initiated the campaign on Feb. 1 to end racial, religious and ethnic discrimination in the London community by inviting residents to engage in welcoming acts and to share them through the campaign's social media platform. The goal is to share 1000 acts of welcome by March 21.
"Moving to a new country is probably a very daunting step, and the smallest gesture by a stranger may be the difference between feeling accepted in your community and feeling shunned," said Brandon Robinson, a fourth-year political science student promoting the campaign.
An act of welcome is defined as a mindful and respectful interaction with individuals from a variety of racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including immigrants and refugees. It can be anything from learning about an immigrant's culture to providing tips about coping with Canadian weather to exchanging cooking recipes with a newcomer.
The campaign is building on a similar campaign from last December, where close to 1,000 free lawn signs featuring the hashtag #AllAreWelcomeHere were handed out throughout the city.
"Although the campaign is about small acts of welcome, the real goal is to open up more meaningful conversations about race and discrimination," said Sydney Scott, a third-year political science student also involved in the campaign's promotion.
A number of participating organizations, including Western, are engaged in the campaign. Robinson and Scott are two members of a student team promoting the campaign on campus as part of an optional component of a community engaged learning course.
"I am greatly inspired by the number of welcoming acts which the people of London carried out," said Zaid Attar Bashi, a fourth-year political science student and member of the team. "Even something which may seem small may mean a lot to someone."
As of today, more than 600 acts of welcome were published through the campaign's website.
"So we have plenty of work ahead of us to accomplish our goal of 1,000 acts," said Robinson.
The student team encourages community members to get involved by visiting the campaign's website and submitting an act of welcome.
To further support the campaign, community members can obtain a free lawn sign, display a smaller version of the sign at their homes or workplaces, share the hashtag #AllAreWelcomeHere on social media and tell their peers about the campaign.
The deadline to submit an act of welcome is March 21. Submitted acts could become featured on the campaign's website.