Saying Hello to New Neighbors & Building Strong, Healthy Communities

How can we welcome new neighbors? Over twenty-five young people met last week in Omaha to get to know each other and to talk about just that.

They laughed together, ate together and found they have a lot in common. Some of the students were born in Sudan or Ethiopia, others were born in Texas or Lincoln. Many were born in Omaha. Some found they like the same music, some like sports. As they talked, most knew what it felt like to be the new person in the school or in the neighborhood.

They worked through real ways to welcome newcomers, identifying approaches that would work well for any of us, young or old: being proactive about saying a friendly hello, inviting a new friend to play football, or introducing them to friends and neighbors.

These students can now go back to their schools and be ambassadors to share what they learned together about getting to know new neighbors.

The boys and girls also celebrated the joy of cooking and eating together.  Many had never cooked more than microwaving a frozen meal. With some wonderful guidance from Nisha Brown, now they were mashing avocados, mincing garlic, snapping pea pods and shredding cooked chicken. There were kids who tasted guacamole, shrimp, bok choy and mushrooms for the first time.

Being hesitant to try a new food is much like being hesitant to meet new people.  These young people discovered they liked doing both.

This event was collaboratively planned by North Omaha Community Cares Council, Omaha Public Schools, City of Omaha Parks and Recreation, South Sudan Community Association, Girls’ Inc., Miss Nisha’s Little Buddies, and Nebraska Is Home.

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