What is the #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign all about?
#YouAreWelcomeHere is a welcome message from U.S. higher education to international students around the world. It is a campaign designed to affirm that our institutions are diverse, friendly, safe and committed to student development. Participating institutions and organizations are communicating the message in statements, photos, videos, events and other creative expressions that feature students, faculty, and staff. The repetition of the statement, “You are welcome here,” by a broad array of people from different backgrounds--from college presidents to football players--is powerful and demonstrates that we support internationalization across our campus communities and across the country.
How did the campaign start?
The first use of the hashtag in international education was by Study Group in their November 2016 video featuring six of their university clients—James Madison University, University of Vermont, Roosevelt University, Merrimack College, Long Island University in Brooklyn, and the City College of New York.
Spurred on by Study Group, Temple University created a very successful video of its own in late November. Beginning with her idea for Temple’s video, Jessica Sandberg, director of international admissions at Temple University, saw a great opportunity to advance this concept into a national campaign for U.S. higher education. Jessica began to promote the idea across social and professional networks.
With the support of organizations like AIRC and NAFSA, the campaign began to receive increased attention from media, such as The Chronicle of Higher Education and The PIE Higher Education News. By mid-February 2017, more than 100 colleges and universities were participating.
As of June 1, 2019, NAFSA will serve as the official coordinating body of the official #YouAreWelcomeHere Twitter account, Facebook page, and website in support of more than 300 participating institutions and countless organizations.
How can my school or organization get involved?
Think of #YouAreWelcomeHere as an extension of your current marketing efforts. Search the hashtag on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube to see many creative examples of how institutions are using the message.
The simplest form of participation is to use this hashtag in your social media posts to demonstrate the ways your school supports and values international students. If you tag your posts and videos with #YouAreWelcomeHere, we will share them across the campaign’s social media channels.
Videos, while not essential, are central to the campaign and can feature members of your campus and surrounding community repeating the message into the camera. While video production can be laborious and expensive, many institutions have used self-submitted mobile phone videos to simplify the process. If your institution has a film department, be sure to ask for their help.
Many institutions have also held events around campus wherein community members express their support of international students in spoken and written messages.
Finally, be sure to check out our toolkit for downloadable poster and sticker files that you can customize and use for your institution. Or feel free to make your own.
Can secondary schools participate or is the campaign for higher education only?
Secondary schools are strongly encouraged to participate! Although the campaign started in higher education, a growing number of U.S. high schools are using the message to demonstrate their support of international students.
We will update the participant list a few times a month. If you are using the hashtag on social media, we’ll make a note and add you to it. If we missed you somehow, please contact Erin Heffernan at KCIEM@nafsa.org for the addition of your school.
My school is participating but we’re not listed on the website. How can I get on your list?
Students have expressed gratitude and relief. Several students report that the video messages are especially reassuring to their parents who are comforted to see friendly faces behind the many higher education institutions across the country. American students and alumni have also been expressing pride in seeing their institution participating in this campaign.