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Belonging Begins With Us, Johnson County

Whether it’s starting a new job, changing schools or neighborhoods, we’ve all had moments where we felt like we didn’t belong. For people who moved to this country, this experience can last more than a moment. From language barriers to cultural differences, feeling excluded can take years to overcome. Yet, because we all know how it feels to be excluded, we also know how to make others feel they belong. When that happens, communities can fully harness the strengths, talents, and contributions of each person to build shared prosperity.


This Welcoming Week, let’s declare that #BelongingBeginsWithUS – that each and every one of us has the power to help others, regardless of their background, to feel like they are seen, embraced, welcomed, and included in our communities.


Welcoming Week is an annual campaign that celebrates the work in communities to become welcoming places for all, including immigrants. Launched in 2012 by Welcoming America and its members, Welcoming Week provides individuals and organizations the opportunity to showcase their values through events and initiatives that foster connections and collaboration between immigrants and non-immigrants, as well as belonging for all.

Welcoming Week 2023

2023 Events

The Banner Project

Friday, September 8


Welcoming Week Kick-Off

Time: 1:00–7:30pm

Location: IC Compassion (1035 Wade St. Iowa City, IA, 52240)


  • Educational Presentation: Being a Culture-Friendly and Welcoming Community
    • About: Happening from 1:00–4:00pm. This session discusses adjustment issues of immigrants and refugees and the importance of being a welcoming community. With Speaker, Sunday Goshit, Ph.D.
  • Meal and Stories of Welcoming the Strangers
    • About: Happening from 5:30–7:30pm. Free Meal and Keynote Speaker, Michael Lynch. Space for this special event is limited. Register for this event by emailing [email protected] to let them know you are signing up.



Saturday, September 9


World Culture Festival

Time: 12:00–5:00pm

Location: Downtown Iowa City Pedestrian Mall (210 S Dubuque St, Iowa City, IA 52240)


  • – 12:00 – 1:30pm: Performances
  • – 12:00–2:00pm: Food
  • – 4:00 – 5:00pm: Zumba
  • – 6:00–10:00pm: Sunset Salsa



Sunday, September 10


Welcome Festival

Time: 1:00–4:00pm

Location: (Mercer Park at 1317 Dover Street, Iowa City)

About: Free community meal, live music, activities for kids, bounce house, balloon artist, Lucas the Balloon Guy, cultural food samples, cultural displays, community vendors and much more! Hosted by IC Compassion / Church of the Nazarene


Intercultural Community Service of Celebration and Worship

Time: 11:ooam–12:30pm

Location: IC Compassion / Church of the Nazarene (1035 Wade St. Iowa City, IA, 52240)

About: Breakfast refreshments served prior to service. Join us for this special outdoor service of celebration with partnering congregations! Sponsored by the Martin Family in loving memory of Fred and Helen Martin, ICCompassion, Iowa City Church of the Nazarene, including United Church of Christ, Chinese Christian Fellowship, International Pentecostal African Church and First African Communities Network, Sudanese Community. All are WELCOME to join us!



Monday, September 11


Community Safety and Resource Fair

Time: 4:00–7:00pm

Location: Coralville Public Library (1401 5th St, Coralville, IA 52241)

About: Come speak with multiple community agencies for safety information and community resources.



Wednesday, September 13


Stranger at the Gate Film Screening

Time: 12:00–1:00pm

Location: Virtual (Get more info here)

About:Global Ties U.S. will host a special virtual screening of the Oscar-nominated documentary Stranger At The Gate. Stranger at the Gate is a 2022 American short documentary film directed by Joshua Seftel. The documentary is about an Afghan refugee named Bibi Bahrami and the members of her little Indiana mosque, who come face to face with Richard “Mac” McKinney, a U.S. Marine who has secret plans to bomb their community center. But Mac McKinney’s plan takes an unexpected turn.



Friday, September 15


Women’s Entrepreneurship Lunch – Female Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Time: 11:30am–1:00pm

Location: MERGE Iowa City (136 S. Dubuque St. Iowa City, IA 52240)

About: Please join ICAD and the University of Iowa’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (Iowa JPEC) for a great opportunity to network with other women entrepreneurs in the area and make lasting business connections. In honor of Welcoming Week we have curated a panel of female, immigrant entrepreneurs who will share their unique entrepreneurial journeys. RSVP required to attend. RSVP by 9/6/2023 at the link here.


What Does it Mean to be a Good Citizen? A University-Community Collaboration in Rural Iowa

Time: 6:00–7:30pm

Location: Iowa City Public Library (123 S Linn St, Iowa City, IA 52240)

About: UI College of Education Associate Professor Carolyn Colvin, Ph.D., will speak about the success of a program to bring citizenship and more to immigrants in West Liberty, Iowa, launched as a university-community collaboration in 1993 with an adult literacy program that continues to the present with a grant to support civic participation. Register to attend here.



Sunday, September 17


Neighbors and Flavors

Time: 12:00–2:00pm

Location: Ranshaw House (515 Community Drive, North Liberty, IA).

About: Celebrate Welcoming Week in North Liberty with live music from the band TURKANA, a free Mediterranean meal and connection with local organizations supporting immigrants in our community. Learn more here.

Welcome, Johnson County! Banner Project

Since 2015, Johnson County has maintained its Welcoming Johnson County Banner Project which showcases the diversity of our community with banners hung throughout Iowa City, Coralville, and Kirkwood Community College. The purpose of this project is to foster greater cultural diversity within our communities and amplify the work of our citizens. This year, find Welcoming Johnson County Banners throughout Downtown Iowa City and by the Kirkwood Iowa City campus!