Global Cleveland invites residents of Northeast Ohio to celebrate Welcoming Week, September 15 to 24, by participating in events and activities that recognize the region’s immigrant heritage and the cultures shaping our future.

Welcoming Week is celebrated each fall by hundreds of communities coast to coast under the guidance of Welcoming America, a non-profit group that promotes multicultural inclusion. Global Cleveland is proud to co-sponsor three events that capture the spirit of the week.

On September 15, we will help The City Club welcome Kavita Pawria-Sanchez, the Assistant Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs  for the City of New York, to its 2017 Constitution Day Forum. She will speak about the power of citizenship at a noon luncheon. (For reservations, go to www.cityclub.org.)

Pawria-Sanchez oversees efforts to advance immigrant inclusion across city government. Immigrants comprise more than 35 percent of the population of New York City and more than half of it small business owners. In contrast, Cleveland is about 5 percent foreign born.

Her office credits immigrants with boosting entrepreneurship, revitalizing neighborhoods, and making New York competitive in the global tech economy.

“Naturalization and citizenship is important, not just for the individuals who live here but also for the economic vitality of the city as a whole,” said Jazmin Long, who leads naturalization initiatives at Global Cleveland. “New York has shown that immigrants can be successfully integrated into a city, to everyone’s benefit.”

Joe Cimperman, the president of Global Cleveland, thinks Cleveland would see similar results.

“Our immigrant ancestors set the foundation for this great city,” he said. “We’re not New York City, but we’re still an outstanding destination for immigrants. We have a high quality of life and leaders who are eager to welcome new cultures.”

That welcoming spirit will be on display September 17 at the International Village Festival on Cleveland’s near west side. The festival celebrates International Village, Ohio’s first refugee-centric neighborhood.

The Metro West Community Development Organization is restoring abandoned homes and marketing them to families whose children attend Thomas Jefferson International Newcomers Academy, the city’s English immersion school.

The festival will bring together the neighborhood’s established residents and newcomers for a multicultural potluck and storytelling led by Talespinner’s Children’s Theatre. It runs from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Michael Zone Recreation Center Pavilion, 6301 Lorain Avenue.

Finally, on Friday September 22, Global Cleveland will sponsor a lunchtime meet-up at an international restaurant with old world ambience. Meet Global Cleveland staff and friends at Emperor’s Palace, the flagship of Old Chinatown, at 2136 Rockwell Avenue, Cleveland. Let us know you’re coming by emailing Courtney@globalcleveland.org.