Welcoming Initiative hosts Multilingual story time

Local4 News at Five Sunday
Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 10:46 AM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Diversity is present throughout the country, and for the first time Grand Island has a Welcoming Initiative. The group hosted an event to celebrate several cultures deeply rooted in the city.

Their goal is to bring awareness to the melting pot of cultures in our communities. They’re comprised of a variety of nonprofits and hosted multilingual story time at the Grand Island Public Library.

Library Director, Celine Swan is a member of Welcoming Initiative.

She felt the library should be involved because it’s a central location and community center for those who are in Grand Island. This is one of several events the Welcoming Initiative has planned in effort to make Grand Island more welcoming area newcomers, because they want every resident to feel at home in Grand Island. Officials said this event highlight something that few other cities can say.

“This event in particular, I think spotlights one of the things that’s really unique about Grand Island in our public school systems here there are over 50 languages that are spoken in children, families of origin,” said Elizabeth Troyer-Miller, Director of Community Impact at Heartland United Way. “So recognizing that there’s a lot of languages here and so when we do story times it can’t just be in English.”

Troyer-Miller said children learn better when it’s in their primary language. She said the event spotlights the main languages in the Grand Island area: English, Spanish, Arabic, and Somali.

Adding, it’s special to see children get to cross learn with other languages, see different people and cultures in familiar stories. But children and schools won’t be the only places you can find the area’s diversity.

”So one of the things that is really cool about Grand Island is that we do have a lot of diversity in small businesses, we have it in events and so if people pay attention and watch there’s always times and ways to connect,” said Troyer-Miller. “In this particular week, we have a number of opportunities for people to connect.”

Troyer-Miller said they have small business diversity tours being conducted Monday and Tuesday on Fourth Street. One official said children embody the Welcoming Initiative.

“Well I think children are the ones that really get it because they go to school you know, they bond with their friends and they all are different nationalities and the kids don’t care, they love each other,” said Swan.

She said it’s important to know that all ages are welcomed.