Between now and the writing of my next column, I will reach a personal landmark: two years of living in Worthington and working for The Globe.
I had never heard of Worthington before I applied for my job. On a cold, snowy day in December 2018, my mom drove down here with me to look for housing, explore the town and meet my new coworkers. My first time driving around, I noted the many amenities Worthington offers and grew excited to build a life here.
I found housing thanks to Toni Brouillet from Johnson Builders and Realty. She listened to my needs and matched me with a cute little place that has become my own. I met with Chamber concierge Katie Kouba, who hooked me up with swag from local businesses and let me know about events and organizations I might want to consider participating in. One of the first people I met was Mayor Kuhle, and he introduced me to other city leaders.
Since then, I've slowly grown my social and professional circle. I've interacted with many of you at community events and local businesses. Although I came here as an outsider, nobody has made me feel unwelcome. Thank you!
I realize that I'm not, by a longshot, the first newcomer to this little prairie town. Worthington has a longstanding legacy of embracing immigrants from all over the world, who speak all kinds of languages and bring their own unique cultures and customs.
I heard Nathalie Nkashama, of World Mart, say recently, "If you want to travel the world, come to Worthington."
She's right. And Nathalie herself has contributed to the fostering of our little melting pot, by providing groceries native to a plethora of African nations. In the same town, we also have grocery stores that cater specifically to Thai, Lao and Karen cultures. We have a Mexican market and a panadería on neighboring blocks of our main street.
These businesses and many others are evidence that diverse communities are thriving in Worthington, thanks to efforts by many in our community.
One way we celebrate our diversity is by holding an International Festival each summer. The International Festival Committee has reached out to me recently and let me know that they need a few more minds to join their planning efforts. It may be an unconventional festival in 2021, depending on how COVID progresses, but as of now, the committee is still planning to have a celebration of some kind.
What Worthington has is special. I thank everyone to every person who has smiled and welcomed me to the community, and those who continue to fight for our immigrants, refugees and people of color. This is a place where everyone belongs. There are so many success stories among us.
If you're interested in raising the bar on our welcoming community, please consider joining the International Festival committee. This festival is just one of the ways we can work toward everyone feeling as welcome as I do. If you're interested in helping out, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.