Welcome the Stranger is a simulation to get participants thinking about immigration from a historical and values perspective. While interactive, the event is scripted for moderators so that people around the country can host events after a tele-training with HIAS staff.
The simulation that we created for this event is as follows: as participants come into the room, they are asked to sit in the time period that represents their own immigration history. There are time period cards placed around the room and individuals sit near others whose families came to the U.S. at that time.
The moderators start the event by walking around the room explaining what immigration was like in the United States during each time period generally and for the Jewish population. Participants are invited to share their own immigration story with the group.
Welcome the Stranger utilizes moderators, participants, as well as multi-media to convey immigration themes and ideas. The event kit comes with a 30-minute Welcome the Stranger DVD that includes real stories of immigrants who came into the country without documentation, words of wisdom from Rabbi David Saperstein, and a warm welcome from HIAS President Gideon Aronoff.
The event is important in that it starts educating and mobilizing the Jewish grassroots around immigration reform in advance of the next immigration bill before Congress. Once mobilized we will have a strong community ready to make calls to Congress in support of humane reform.