Several international college students have gathered in Marshalltown this weekend for a conference on multicultural communities. Michelle Soria is the executive director of the Iowa Council for International Understanding which organized the event. She says it’s a retreat for 50 students representing 31 different countries, as well as students from Iowa universities, who’ll come together and “learn about strengthening multicultural communities.” Soria says they picked Marshalltown as the site of the conference as the city’s undergone a big cultural change. She says Marshalltown’s had a big influx of Latino immigrants and they want to hear from local leaders about how they’ve handled that change. Soria says the people who’ve been involved in the good and bad of the community’s simulation of the immigrants will speak, including presenters from the Hispanic ministry of a Catholic church, the police chief and an administrator from the local hospital. She says they also have the Director of Community Partnerships and Training from University of Northern Iowa’s Iowa Center for Immigrant Leadership and Integration. She says the center has worked statewide with many towns that have experienced and increase in the Latino population. Sorio says the goal of the conference is to equip the students to know how to work in multicultural communities. She says whatever their background is, staying here in Iowa or returning abroad, it will team them how to change in general and work with that change. The conference will be held at the Marshalltown Best Western Regency Inn today (Friday) and Saturday.
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