The cover on the New Yorker this week made me really sad. It seems the light of the Lady of Liberty has gone out. I just signed up to lead an effort in support of immigration and refugee rights. Not sure what I’m getting into, but it will be an adventure.
I love the diversity of Des Moines. It has increased so much since I started working here in 1980, and it still is not that great, but it’s much richer than it was.
When Republican Governor Robert Ray spread the welcome mat for Southeast Asian refugees and immigrants, he did a great thing. Since then, Des Moines has become home to a rainbow of people from all over the world. There are more than 100 languages spoken in the homes of DMPS students.
It’s exciting to walk through a grocery store and hear other languages and drive down the street and see people wearing traditional Burmese or Somali dress. We have restaurants where we can eat Mexican of course but also Thai, Indian and even Ecuadoran. Our neighbors who have come so far enrich us in so many ways.
But is this about to change? I hope not! We will work to continue the welcoming tradition of Iowa.
This week Shelly and I worked with a group of Ugandan college students who were visiting Drake University. It was a highlight of a team building session for the Adams Leadership Academy. They were so candid and open. They were so excited to experience snow!
When I asked them to close their eyes for a centering exercise, they were afraid I was going to hypnotize them! Shelly and I led them through Real Colors. Justine was the only one with a dominant “orange” personality so she and I worked out the “brightening” activity together, identifying joys, strengths, needs and values for our personality preference.
When I said good-bye to them at a reception Thursday evening, Justine was still asking how to achieve her goals. Collaboration, Justine, collaboration. We need ALL the colors to be successful.