I happened to stumble accross a website for the DFW (Dallas Fort Worth) International Community Alliance in North Texas. The website serves a community in which 40% of the residents are immigrants from around the world, mainly developing countries. What I find so interesting is that the aim of the alliance is to bring these communities together with eachother, and with the American locals so that the immigrants are accepted and integrated into society. Considering the problems with xenophobia and racism in Europe, particularly the recent riots and car torchings in France, this is a really amazing initiative. According to the website:
The Mission of DFW International is to promote and link North Texas ethnic and immigrant groups, empowering them as respected members of the community and giving them a forum through which to express, share and celebrate the richness of their cultural heritages...For eight years DFW International has used the arts, technology, and education to connect schools, researchers, journalists, and civic organizations with grassroots ethnic communities. We also help ethnic arts groups share their traditional arts with the public and expand their audience base beyond community boundaries. We believe that communications and mutual respect among all of our peoples are crucial to DFW's continued growth and development as a richly diverse society and strong player in the global marketplace.
The North Texas area is home to 1600 different ethnic groups which includes 1 million Mexicans, including 300,000 people from the state of Guanajuato, 60 000 Chinese-Americans, about 50 000 Iranians and a similar number of Pakistanis, 80 000 people of Vietnamese descent and nearly 100 000 people from India.
Even more interesting to me are the African communities, 450 Gambians, 8000 people from Ghana, 300 Ivorians, 25 000 Nigerians, 200 Senegalese, 4000 from Sierra Leone, 5000 South Africans, 1500 Ugandans and 3000 Zimbabweans.
Some of the cultural activities advertised on the website include a South Asian travelling film festival, the opening of a Native American Arts Center & Gallery, a 1st Friday African Village Night with Kumaasi, and a Jingle Bells on Bishop with Venezuelan Group "La Parranda".
If only there were more initiatives like this. South Africa could certainly take a leaf out of DFW's book considering the way we treat our immigrants.