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Mushabah Alfani and tutor Alice McCabe, both of Cedar Rapids, find Morocco on a world map during a language lesson at the Catherine McAuley Center in Cedar Rapids on Monday, Jan. 30, 2017. Alfani fled the Democratic Republic of Congo during the Congolese Civil Wars and was at a refugee camp in Zambia for several years before being settled in Columbus, Ohio, as a refugee. He moved to Cedar Rapids in 2014. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Mushabah Alfani and tutor Alice McCabe, both of Cedar Rapids, find Morocco on a world map during a language lesson at the Catherine McAuley Center in Cedar Rapids on Monday, Jan. 30, 2017. Alfani fled the Democratic Republic of Congo during the Congolese Civil Wars and was at a refugee camp in Zambia for several years before being settled in Columbus, Ohio, as a refugee. He moved to Cedar Rapids in 2014. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Cedar Rapids is proud to observe Welcoming Week from Sept. 14 to 23, to acknowledge the many important contributions immigrants and refugees bring to our community, and to celebrate all diversity in our city.

Welcoming Week is a national celebration, bringing together people through local events to celebrate the role communities play to foster a welcoming community.

Our history, our culture and our future is tied to being inclusive and welcoming. We need look no further than to our northwest quadrant, the Ellis Boulevard area, to glimpse the rich history and fabric woven by those who, in the 1880s, settled there — immigrants who saw what our community had to offer. The time was a turning point for the Time Check area. Jobs, grocery stores, meat markets, bakeries and a diverse ethnic mix created a population — as well as an economic — boom within a 10- to 12-block area.

This year, Cedar Rapids is celebrating Welcoming Week to honor the values that unite us as neighbors, parents and colleagues, as we roll out our carpet of inclusivity further, and reach deeper to make our city more welcoming to newcomers and to everyone who calls our community home. We believe we can create a more vibrant and prosperous community when everyone feels welcomed and can fully participate. Fostering a welcoming environment for all individuals — regardless of race, ethnicity or place of origin — enhances Cedar Rapids’ cultural fabric, economic growth, global competitiveness and overall prosperity for current and future generations.

During Welcoming Week, and all year long, new and longtime residents can build bridges to make their communities stronger.

There’s a lot happening within our community to celebrate Welcoming Week. Please consider sharing this “good stuff” with everyone and participating. No event is too big or small — we simply request events are aimed at including any and all interested residents.

Whether you are opening the doors to your place of worship, or scheduling a cooking demonstration, sports event, dance, book review or networking event, we want our residents to learn from one another. To view the full list of events, or to add your own, visit welcomingCR.com.

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We are Cedar Rapids, an inclusive community, and in working together we can continue to create, and move our city forward into, the future we wish to see.

• Susie Weinacht is a Cedar Rapids City Council member.

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