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How to Warmly Welcome New Americans at the Airport

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

Get them fed and rested

Planning to pick up a New American from the airport? We have a few quick tips to get you, and your newcomer as comfortable (and excited!) as possible.

Let’s start with empathy.

Have you ever traveled internationally? Those are long flights, especially if you stack several connecting flights on top of that. Now imagine the real fear of being turned away at the border. Imagine leaving friends, family, and country. Now imagine that the home you’re leaving is a war zone and you don’t know when you’ll be able to return, and if those friends and family will be there when you return.

If you can somehow imagine all of those things, you’d be getting close to the experience of our newcomers. They are exhausted, hungry, scared, excited, grateful, and probably have some real trauma to be worked through. They need support, love, community, opportunity, food, and rest.

Picking up from the airport is just one step: but it is the first impression they have of a new season of their lives. Let’s make it a great one.

  1. Arrange to have a few people there for a full welcome crew.

  2. If you can, bring someone who speaks their native language.

  3. Bring a sign with their name on it.

  4. Download a translation app like Google Translate (with their language downloaded ahead or time), WhatsApp, or SayHi.

  5. Be there early and greet them as close to the secured exit as possible. (Not the luggage gate or car pickup)

  6. Many newcomers arrive with just a backpack and will not need to pick up additional baggage.

  7. Bring water bottles—bonus points for reusable.

  8. Bring a small gift if you can such as small American flags, local food, or flowers.

  9. Document the arrival with photos and videos. (Be sure to obtain permission prior to sharing their name or image publicly)

  10. Help them get their phone working in the States and consider stopping at a cell phone store to pick up a new SIM card.

  11. They aren’t sure if they are more tired or more hungry. Pick up some food on the way to their new home. Get them fed and rested as soon as possible.

  12. Bring them to their apartment and give them a tour highlighting the following as sometimes these differ from country to country:

    1. Locks on all doors and windows

    2. Hot water in showers

    3. AC and heat settings

    4. Appliances like stove and dishwasher

    5. Any other safety concerns you can think of

  13. You may need to have them apply for work authorization or social security on the first day—follow instructions from the law firm.

  14. Plan a time to meetup the following day.

Now, leave them to settle in, refresh themselves, and rest as soon as they can.

Have more tips that worked well for you? Let us know!

Now, let’s go welcome well <3


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