Pediatrician Andrea Green of Charlotte has helped the International Club of Burlington High School’s “All Are Welcome” club that makes visible their voice and symbolizes a supportive and welcoming home for all immigrants and all who live in the United States.
The recent national election brought fear to many immigrant families in Vermont, Green said. With the increase in anti-immigrant rhetoric, new Americans—refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers—were distressed about their future in Burlington and the United States. What was going to happen to them? Would they be safe in America? Would they have to leave?
Driven by the real fear she witnessed in her pediatric practice, Dr. Green reached out to Burlington High School to see if she could support the students in feeling safe and welcome. The students of the International Club of Burlington High School were also worried and wanted to do something. The students met together with Green and their club sponsor, Susan Blethen, to talk about these fears and about ways to communicate that Vermont is a place where all are welcome. During these meetings and design process the students strengthened their voice and power to stand up against hurtful rhetoric, Green said. They were able to share how Burlington has been a welcoming community, something they wanted to make visible to all.
The students created an image of two hands supporting a dove. “This symbol means to spread love and peace, and to embrace everyone without prejudice against one’s background. This is a symbol that represents every immigrant that has come to United States for a better life and place to live,” said Radhika, a BHS senior. The dove represents peace and immigration because birds migrate much like immigrants, looking for a welcoming place to live, Green said. The hands show that our community welcomes everyone, protects them and ensures that they are in a safe place.
Although their focus is the immigrant community, the students chose #allarewelcome in English because they did not want anyone of any background, affiliation or identity to feel excluded. The students hope that our community will freely post their symbol in stores, offices and homes to show solidarity with the immigrant community. “Our goal through this project is to help refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers live in the United States without fear, and it is also our hope that everyone accepts this symbol for its good cause. Namaste, napat, pais, pas, chit, hépíng, hòa bình, amakuru.”