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Engaging Raleigh's African immigrants

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Akaosa Eleanya is one of more than 1,000 people living in Raleigh who are from Nigeria. More than 16,000 Raleigh residents were born in a sub-Saharan African country. These immigrants face many of the same hardships that American minorities do, Eleanya says, such as equal access to opportunities at school and work.

These barriers can make the immigrants feel isolated. As a result, they lose the chance to participate in and enrich their communities. "It's important for kids born here to identify with their culture and share information about it with others," Eleanya said. "It connects them with their heritage."

As a result, the Raleigh Human Relations Commission has formed the Diversity Relations Committee to host forums focused on helping immigrants become more engaged with the Raleigh community.

"This is a group we haven't spent a great deal of resources looking at, in terms of how the population has integrated into Raleigh," said commission chairman Michael Leach. "We thought it would be appropriate to get to understand this culture well, to bridge gaps and see if people feel isolated or segmented."

This article appeared in print with the headline "7,000 miles from home"

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