Celebrating Multiculturalism and Promoting Leadership Among New Americans By Abele Meshesha
July 30th 2011 was a remarkable day for The Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services (ETSS). Youth groups gathered with one thing in common – the intention to build leadership among immigrant communities and celebrate central Ohio’s multiculturalism.
Ohio’s immigrants come from various countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. For the past three decades these immigrant communities have shaped the culture of central Ohio, especially Columbus and metropolitan area. It is difficult for one to flee their native country and begin a new life in a foreign culture. As new immigrants begin to assimilate into the fabric and society they face numerous challenges. Examples of challenges are; dealing with emotional struggles because they are separated from their family, overcoming new social rules, customs and laws, finding job opportunities, and simply growing accustomed to life in the United States where barriers, both language and cultural, confront them. In 2000, ETSS pledged to address these issues and concerns. ETSS continues to search and provide possible solutions, while assisting new comers into the way of life as a new Ohio resident.
This past Saturday at “A Call to Action Youth Summit: Building the Future of Youth Leadership Among New Americans”, students from different immigrant communities gathered. It was truly a global affair. The day began with a youth panel and Q&A session lead by Solomon Ayalew. The panelists consisted of a diverse group of students. Questions about how to excel in a new environment, youth employment, health care, safety and living conditions in the Unites States were addressed. An adult panel followed addressing similar topics and questions. During the panels, channel 10 TV reporter Jerry Ravish interviewed several immigrant youth representatives about their experiences in relation to the panelists questions and remarks. College preparation, anti-bullying, leadership seminars and preparing to become a citizen were topics for workshops, which took place for the rest of the summit.
Lunch was served after the first workshop. The lunch menu comprised of various national dishes from respective immigrant cultures. It was a delicious and tasting feast. Throughout the day there was a raffle for five bikers and several smaller gifts. The day ended with abundant information for new Americans. Our very own mayor of Columbus announced “Immigrant Week”, which will be celebrated every year from July 21st to July 31st. It was a great honor to have him announce this at our gathering.
As a result of this successful summit I am truly grateful for all of the knowledge I gained. Even though I just moved to Columbus two years ago I learnt many new things about the city and just how diverse it truly is. Thank you, Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services.