Welcoming Communities Transatlantic Exchange (WCTE)

From 2016 - 2018, The Welcoming Communities Transatlantic Exchange (WCTE) brought together integration practitioners and public officials from Germany and the United States to share ideas and best practices on welcoming and integrating refugees at the local level. 

Each year, up to 25 German and 16 American integration practitioners from a range of backgrounds visited each other’s countries to learn important new skills around issues such as community engagement, refugee outreach, positive communications, local policy development, evaluation, and many other areas critical for creating a welcoming community where all members can thrive. Participants included individuals who work on a daily basis in key areas of migrant integration, and represent various offices of government, civil society, business, education, and other related sectors.

Best Practices Report

Best Practices in Local Integration for Receiving Communities & Newcomers


The program’s participants represented city governments and agencies, non-profits and social services, immigrant and refugee organizations, faith communities, local businesses, law enforcement, and others who work to integrate refugees and immigrants in their local communities and to engage receiving communities in the welcoming process. WCTE participants were selected to represent this diversity of local experiences. They brought a unique understanding of the challenges facing local communities on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as a commitment to cultivating the positive potential of increasingly diverse communities.

There were certain things that felt incomparable at times... But I think it's pretty remarkable how similar across Germany and the United States both the challenges are that we're facing and the aspirations that we have for making our multicultural democracies more effective.
Stephanie Teatro, 2017 WCTE Alumni

Coming from a refugee immigrant background, I was able to see how my brothers and sisters in other communities in another part of the world are experiencing refugee and immigrant resettlement.
Reth Duir, 2018 WCTE Alumni

A lot of the things that we saw were things where we thought, 'Okay, I think the county has to give a different message, or the city of Bautzen has to give a different message.' So we wrote an Action Plan that has some parts that we can realize but some parts [will] need the help of county and city authorities...
Michelle Bray, 2018 WCTE Alumni

Ich denke, man kann [den Austausch über positive Kommunikation] sehr gut gebrauchen, vor allem wo wir täglich Populismus in unserer Arbeit erleben, was die Arbeit auch komplizierter macht. Das Gefühl, dass wir nicht alleine sind in unseren Communities, sondern dass es Menschen wo anderes auch so geht, hilft auch.
I think [the exchange on positive communication strategies] is really helpful, especially since we experience populism in our daily work, which further complicates what we do. This feeling, that we are not alone in our communities but that other people elsewhere experience the same problems.
Jean Jacques Badji, 2017 WCTE Alumni
In our Action Plan, our goal was to get the [Ohio] State Governor's Office to do something that other governor's offices in the United States have done.... Not only do we have an Office for New Americans now, but we actually have it in a way that's positioned to last.
Brittany Ford, 2016 WCTE Alumni

Finding people who are, in their own ways, and in different cities and in different roles, working towards the same cause - it definitely is energizing.
Mariana Martinez, 2017 WCTE Alumni

Related Articles

Partners and Funders

The Welcoming Communities Transatlantic Exchange was organized and administered by Cultural Vistas, together with its partners Welcoming America and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung North America. The program was funded by the Transatlantic Program of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany through funds of the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi), as well as by the U.S. Department of State, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, and BMW Group.