University City

Programs look inside the region's diversity

Crossroads Charlotte is helping the region's international community get better acquainted with others who live here.

It's a chance for learning on both sides.

"Many Cultures, One Community" is a series of programs and workshops that continues through Dec. 3 for anyone interested in learning about the people who make the Charlotte region diverse, and networking with them.

For the finale, Crossroads Charlotte plans a communitywide event where it will launch a new online database that compiles information about and access to the international community.

"This is a way to connect dots," said Ana Lucia Divins, one of the project's leaders.

Crossroads Charlotte spent the past few years reaching out to refugees, immigrants, asylees and others born outside the United States.

The organization set up listening sessions and other programs. It learned some newcomers arrive with a multitude of needs, especially when they have fled their countries to avoid persecution.

More than 3,000 refugees and asylees have arrived in the Charlotte region since 1996, according to the Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency.

Many needed basic services, such as health care, housing, language classes, legal services and job training.

Even with the resources extended to them, many often said they didn't feel a part of the community.

"One of the things that we heard from the (international) community is that the need is not just finding resources," Divins said. "The need is to create and provide spaces to make connections both ways."

"Many Communities, One Culture" answers that request with events and programs where the community can interact and learn about each other.

In many ways, the program is a beginning. The next step will be finding ways to build trust.