Around 250 Iowans from all over the state are in Des Moines this week to learn about people with different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Amber Corrieri is one of the organizers of the two-day long Iowa Mosaic Diversity Conference .
"Iowa’s always been a diverse state, regardless of what some people may think," Corrieri told Radio Iowa. Many of Iowa’s smaller towns are growing because of new U.S. immigrants. Corrieri says the cultural differences between the town’s long-time and new residents can present challenges.
She says it’s important for native Iowans to learn how to talk with their new neighbors from other countries, and not "shut them out." Corrieri says the new Iowans contribute to the communities by opening new businesses, supporting the local economy, and placing their kids in schools. One of the state’s tools for supporting diversity is the "New Iowan Centers," located in several different counties.
"Their job is really just to educate people in communities on what they can do to help people assimilate into the community," Corrieri says, "but they also provide great resources to the new Iowans that are coming here from other countries on what they can do to help people understand why they are here and what they can do to contribute to the community."
The Iowa Mosaic Diversity Conference is wrapping up this afternoon at the Polk County Convention Complex in downtown Des Moines.