The Impact of the ‘Welcome Your Neighbor’ Signs

Have you seen the signs that say “No matter where you’re from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor” in Spanish, English, and Arabic? They originated in Harrisonburg, Virginia, but have now been shipped to all 50 states.

Nzar came to the US seeking asylum in 2016. He shares what it meant to him to see these signs around the community.

“It’s beyond politics — it’s just a human message,” shares David Landies, who helped make the signs available to people all over the country.

Get your own sign at https://www.welcomeyourneighbors.org/

Video Transcript

Meet Nzar and David: Good neighbors

Harrisonburg, Virginia

Nzar Sharif: So, I was hearing on news or reading on newspapers, “We are deporting immigrants, we are no longer letting immigrants take our jobs.” It was not a good time. 

Nzar Sharif came to the US in 2016 seeking asylum. 

It was building a wall, like an invisible wall. But so many wonderful people, they stood up, and they have this sign in front of their home. Wherever I go and I see that sign, it’s a visual sign for me that this family, this household is immigrant-friendly.

David Landis: This is where the “Welcome Your Neighbors” signs came from originally. It’s a sign that says, “No matter where you’re from, we’re glad you’re our neighbors” in Spanish, English, and Arabic. 

It kind of just grew out of what Harrisonburg is and became a symbol for people who wanted just a positive political message. But it’s even beyond politics, and it’s just a human message. So I offered to help and say, “What if we make an online platform, and try to streamline it and scale it up?” And so I just put up a website with a simple order form and had three, four hundred orders the next day, and that just kept going.

We think there’s probably more than 100,000 signs out there. We don’t know for sure. We’ve shipped signs to every state in the US. The fact that it went so viral, it motivated us all to keep pushing it along. It seemed like a representative value for the rest of the country who wants to hear that.

Nzar now lives with a family who embodies the message of the sign. They welcomed him to live in their home.

Nzar: We dance together, sometimes we cry together, and so pretty much like my family. On a daily basis, we are exchanging information. We are having conversations about what’s happening in the world. We are tasting each other’s food. So that means they invited the world into their house. 

So the city of Sulaymaniyah, the city that I came from, is surrounded by mountains, just like Harrisonburg is surrounded by Blue Ridge and Allegheny. Sulaymaniyah is surrounded by Goyija and Baranan, so it reminds me of Sulaymaniyah.

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