The tremendous success of the 2020 Global Village Welcome Walk, which went virtual for the first time in the event’s eight-year history, was a testament to our community’s profound belief in welcoming and inclusion. This year, GVP friends far and wide broke records with their support, together raising more than $75,000 to support equitable, empowering education for refugee learners.
The outcome of this year’s walk far surpassed expectations given the challenges of 2020. When the GVP Team began planning the Welcome Walk in September, significant obstacles had to be taken into consideration. We worried that the strain of the pandemic would affect friends’ ability to support GVP financially. We weighed in the impact that operating remotely - without our usual volunteer opportunities, in-person events, and bustling school and office - might pose to our community’s sense of connection. Most importantly, we had to imagine new ways to capture the same energy, passion, and dedication usually catalyzed by the in-person walk, a gathering that drew over 300 participants last year.
Still, what proved to be the key to success in transforming this year's walk into a virtual event was the same ingredient that has invigorated every Welcome Walk ever: the tenacious commitment and generosity of the GVP family. This year, our three Welcome Walk challenges to everyone were to Support 47, Share 47, and Move 47 in honor of GVP’s 47 (now 50) current students. The GVP community responded en force - over 50 individuals signed up to run their own personal fundraising pages for the Welcome Walk’s peer-to-peer campaign, and over 500 donors contributed gifts in total. GVP friends shared about our work and impact on social media and via email, acting as ambassadors for our vision of equity and inclusion. And while we couldn’t walk together this year, that didn’t stop people from walking and moving in their own neighborhoods across the country and even across the world (read: London Runners Join the 2020 Global Village Welcome Walk!)
What made this incredible turnout even more meaningful was that it arrived at a moment in which our nation’s commitment to building welcoming communities was facing significant challenges. Just weeks before the 2020 Welcome Walk, the Trump administration announced that the refugee admissions ceiling for this next fiscal year had been capped at just 15,000 admissions, the lowest in the history of the refugee resettlement program. This devastating news added new urgency to our mission to champion the power of inclusion and, as a community, reassert our belief that welcoming refugees and immigrants everywhere only makes us stronger.
Much of this passion was captured in the responses that GVP friends shared in our video challenge, captured in the video above. We invited folks to “Move 47 and share why you believe a welcoming world is important.” As Leah Kuenzi, GVP’s Grant Specialist, answered, “Every person deserves to feel loved and accepted in whatever corner of the world that they choose to make their home in.” GVP Alumnae Ayat felt similarly, saying, “I believe that no matter what identity you are, no matter what you believe, that you should be welcomed… I was welcomed in the United States when I first came, and I believe everyone should be welcomed, too.”
Overall, the 2020 Welcome Walk was a reminder that no matter the circumstances or the politics of the moment, the GVP community’s commitment to welcoming refugees and immigrants everywhere endures, unwavering. We are so grateful to all those who contributed to making this event the powerful show of support that it was, whether by donating, sharing, walking, or more. We hope that next year, we will be able to thank you and walk with you in person as we gather once more to celebrate the power and joy of building welcoming communities.