Webinar: Receiving Communities: Preparing a Culture of Welcome

April 30, 2013

This webinar is the first in a series of Welcoming Cities webinars, co-hosted with Welcoming America.

Learn how small-to-medium cities like Boise, United States, and Erfurt, Germany, are successfully bringing newcomers and receiving communities together with innovative programs and a clear message about the two-way benefits of immigrant integration. How do we bring newcomers and established residents into contact with each other and create a culture of welcome? One way is to start with cross-cultural interactions that build trust and mutual understanding.

Watch the Webinar Video


  • Download the Webinar Powerpoint slides (PDF)
  • Watch and listen Q&A with Petra Eweleit, Strangers Become Friends (Erfurt, Germany), and Jan A. Reeves,Idaho Office for Refugees (Boise, United States)
  • Learn more about Welcoming Cities, a new initiative from Welcoming America and its municipal partners convening U.S. cities and counties to support locally-driven efforts to create more welcoming, immigrant-friendly environments

Featured Good Ideas

  • In Erfurt, the project “Strangers Become Friends” (“Fremde werden Freunde”) brings together international students and local residents, institutions and businesses in a unique co-mentoring program that welcomes the newcomer while strengthening local civic engagement and opening everyone’s cultural horizons.
  • In Boise, an International Summer Youth Program pairs middle-school learners from the refugee community with native born peers to encourage new friendships and mutual understanding across cultures. This simple idea is the result of a multi-stakeholder collaboration between the Idaho Office for Refugees, Boise State University College of Education and community service experts at the City of Boise’s Department of Parks and Recreation.


Petra Eweleit, Project Manager, Strangers Become Friends, Erfurt, Germany

Petra Eweleit is the Project Manager of Strangers Become Friends in Erfurt, Germany. Prior to this role, she was the Chairperson of the City of Erfurt’s office for „Auslandsgesellschaften“ (foreign companies). Petra has extensive experience working with youth in social work and education. She has over twenty years of teaching experience where she taught at the Polytechnical High School in Erfurt. She holds a teaching degree in Russian, Arts and English. She was born in Wilzschhaus / Erzgebirge, in the former Eastern part of Germany, and she is fluent in German, Russian, and English.


Jan A. Reeves, Director, Idaho Office for Refugees, Boise, United States

Jan Reeves is Director of the Idaho Office for Refugees (IOR), the agency responsible for the provision of assistance and self-sufficiency services to refugees resettled in the state. Jan has been involved for over twenty-seven years in developing and implementing service programs for refugees, beginning as a staff employment specialist in 1985. Since 1989, he has served in a number of management positions, including Director of the Mountain States Refugee Resettlement Program, Director of the Mountain States Refugee Center and, since 1998, State Refugee Coordinator.

Jan is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and a veteran of the Vietnam conflict, where he served as a combat pilot in the U.S. Air Force. He is the 2010 recipient of the Liberty Bell award presented by the Idaho Fourth District Bar Association and the 2011 recipient of the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement Director’s Award for commitment to the support and care of refugees.

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