We believe people must feel a sense of belonging to fully immerse themselves into new cultural and linguistic surroundings; they must also feel empowered to integrate their own beliefs, culture, and personal history into an area. By developing programs and spaces where refugees and immigrants feel safe and confident to explore inclusion in their new surroundings, we are confident this will enhance their personal integration experience - as a result, this also creates greater understanding of our neighbor's differences within the community.
Our initial pilot site of the Smithdale Apartment complex in Raleigh, NC, primarily houses global refugees. The most common barrier to integration for refugees is language, typically combined with limited education and job skills. While refugees come from a vast background of educational levels and professions (without conversational English), integration into the community becomes a long and challenging process. By providing programs that encourage conversational English, job skills training, and preschool programming, families can begin to overcome one of the greatest barriers of humankind: loneliness. Everyone should feel that they belong in the community. We can help.
Once programs are established within a community, BELONG NC initiates the process of empowering those it serves to take ownership of the community's offerings. We believe that BELONG NC programs will be most successful if guided by those it has served, once given the necessary tools and resources. It is our goal to generate programs that will allow refugees and immigrants to feel engaged and welcomed, coupled with the support of the greater community.