Redefining “neighbor:” LIRS Participants in San Antonio Glocal

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Anna Campbell shares with us her recent trip to San Antonio, Texas where she participated in a “Glocal Mission Gathering.” Anna is National Network Coordinator for Access to Justice, LIRS’s unit that promotes access to the justice system, immigration benefits, and legal protection to immigrants and refugees, with particular attention to the most vulnerable, such as asylum seekers,torture survivors and those in immigration detention.

We are much more connected with people all around the world than ever before. Do you agree? My mom does and she’s always right.

“Local” has a much different connotation that it did ten years ago. Maybe it was 9/11 and Americans’ sparked interest in our nation’s position globally, maybe it’s because of Facebook, and my guess the cost of oil has something to do with it; however, the term “local” is no longer limited to a small subdivision, neighborhood or county, even city or state. It’s expanded to mean something much larger – the world. We often hear people describe their neighbors as people who live down the block, but it’s also becoming common language for a neighbor to mean a friend or family member living half way around the globe. There is no doubt in my mind that this shift in defining our neighbors is due to technological advances, improvements in transportation systems, online social networking and modern communication, but what does it mean for our relationships with those living next door? Who and what is next door?

I recently attended a “Glocal Mission Gathering” in San Antonio, Texas designed to explore just this. How does an rapidly changing society respond to the increased intersection between “global” and “local”? How can a church or community responsibly provide for people who literally live in their neighborhoods, as well as their sisters and brothers around the world?

LIRS sits in a very unique place. We welcome refugees and immigrants in the United States and provide a safe avenue for newcomers in this country; however, in order to appropriately do this work and deliver quality services we also must understand the global setting from which migrants come. We serve an international population in the American national context – we are Glocal. LIRS helps “other side of the world” neighbors, who for one reason or another are unable to live freely in their local community, become “living down the street” neighbors.

So what does this mean for you? How do YOU treat your “neighbors”? What can you, your church or your community do to welcome newcomers to this country?  Here are some ideas.

How can we all be better GLOCAL citizens? Tell us – LIRS wants to hear from you!

 

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