This Bowling Green academy is giving immigrants and refugees skills to develop into future community
A program aimed at empowering international residents of Bowling Green has begun its fifth annual session.
The Academy for New Americans offers foreign-born residents the opportunity of five monthly workshops focusing on leadership training, community building, and local government services.
The academy is free and a part of an initiative through the city of Bowling Green to equip international residents with the knowledge they need to become leaders in their communities. Thirty residents from 13 different nations and ethnicities make up this year's class.
Michael Trivizadakis, a spokesperson for the academy, said the entire community benefits by empowering the international residents.
“The wonderful thing is that the city of Bowling Green is offering a stage for individuals who come from a different culture, in a different country to open up, bloom and share their wonderful talents with the local citizens in this community,” Trivizadakis said.
The first session was held at the Neighborhood and Community Services building and focused on leadership skills and team building within the cohort.
Winner Benjamin is a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a member of the academy. He said he would recommend the workshops to other immigrants because of what he’s learning.
“I learn a lot of things in this one, and it will help me with how to work with communities and how to lead others,” Benjamin said. “It is very important.”
Future meetings of the cohort will explore steps to applying for citizenship, learning more about the local government and municipal services; including using the public transportation systems, applying for a driver's license, and exploring the civil and criminal justice systems. A portion of the academy will also be focused on civic engagement and exploring what it means to be a U.S. citizen and how to become involved in the community.
The overall goal of The Academy for New Americans is two-pronged. Graduates of the academy are able to demonstrate the skills they learned to assist other international residents in their community or neighborhoods, while also spreading the word about the program to garner attention for future participants.
The academy was started in 2016 and is led by the International Communities Liason Division. It was awarded the 2017 Enterprise Cities Award by the Kentuck League of Cities and similar programs have been adopted elsewhere in the state.
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