A Lesson in Cultural Diversity

What is the most culturally diverse city?  Some say it’s Amsterdam, with about 178 different cultures.   London  can make a strong claim for second, with approximately a third of its population foreign-born.   The  most diverse city in the U.S. would be Los Angeles, rated third in the world, with an estimated 86 languages spoken by people from roughly 140 countries.  (For others, see “The 10 Most Multicultural Cities in the World” by Marcelina Morfin at https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/california/articles/the-10-most-multicultural-cities-in-the-world/.)

But confine the search exclusively to this country, and you will find Clarkston, Georgia, a city of 13,000 that actually welcomes refugees.  Hosting about 1500 refugees a year, this “Ellis Island of the South”  has found a home for about 40,000 newcomers in the past 25 years.  They come from all over the world, including Bhutan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Liberia, and Vietnam.  Surprisingly, new arrivals also include middle-class professional Americans who are drawn to the diversity.

This approach has been successful because of high-density apartment complexes and good transport links, including close proximity to an interstate.  Jobs can be found at chicken factories an hour away, with vanpools providing transportation.  These transportation and housing advantages also attract the aforementioned professionals.

So how does Clarkston stay so small?  The city’s size is also a limiting factor, with many people moving on to better opportunities once they get established.

So forget the anti-immigration sentiment.  The American Dream is still accessible if you know where to look.

For the complete story, see “This small town in America’s Deep South welcomes 1,500 refugees a year” by Katy Long at  https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/24/clarkston-georgia-refugee-resettlement-program .

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