Welcoming Week promotes inclusivity in the Princeton community

ANDREW HARRISON/STAFF

As Princeton continues with its annual Welcoming Week, things are a little different in the era of COVID-19.

This will be the fifth year Princeton has held the week which kicked off on Sept. 12 and has been completely virtual.

Welcoming Week is designed to connect residents of different backgrounds, nationalities and beliefs. The week will come to a close on Sept. 20.

Welcoming Week is part of national network from Welcoming America which promotes bringing together communities to build stronger connections through initiatives, programs and live streamed events.

“Creating Home Together” is the national theme for the 2020 Welcoming Week, according to the Welcoming America website.

“The overarching goal of Welcoming Week is to celebrate the contributions of all residents in our community and to promote community and inclusivity among all of those who live in Princeton,” said Melissa Urias, director of Princeton’s Department of Human Services. “The events we’ve hosted for Welcoming Week are meant to be fun ways of creating community, but the idea should be achieved throughout the year, not simply for one week.”

The week is a collaboration between Human Services and the Princeton Public Library along with other community partners. The library is hosting Welcoming Week on their Engage Princeton website.

“Princeton has made a commitment to be a welcoming community, which means that we want to project that we are welcoming to new immigrants. We are welcoming more broadly and want people to feel a sense of belonging,” Mayor Liz Lempert said. “The events are going to be different because it is virtual. I think that COVID-19 and all of the crises that have come with COVID I think has made all of us be more introspective about what it means to have a safe and strong community.”

There are two initiatives taking place this week are: Recipe Sharing and Reflecting on Community.

Recipe Sharing connects residents with shareable recipes that individual would make to welcome someone into their home or to their neighborhood. Those participating are asked to share if there is story around the recipe; what makes it special to them and who shared the recipe to the participating resident, according the library.

The recipes will be shared on the Engage Princeton website.

Reflecting on Community allows for residents to write about the ways they are connecting with others during 2020. Residents participating are asked if they have a wish for what will come out of this time of change and what would it be?

The written thoughts and responses will also be shared on the website.

“I hope the people that participate are able to feel a strong connection to one another. It has been really challenging for everyone, because we have not been able to do the normal things we would be doing to maintain and strength our community ties,” Lempert said. “Hopefully people will be able to feel a part of this larger community and have a sense of comfort from that.”