Norwich welcomes visitors in 7 languages

Norwich — Two new welcome signs have been posted at key gateways to the city, greeting drivers in seven different languages, an idea put forward by resident and business owner Swaranjit Singh Khalsa and approved by city leaders.

The signs, placed on Route 82 off Interstate 395 Exit 11 and one off Route 2 near the William W. Backus Hospital, start with English “Welcome” at the top and follow with the greeting in Punjabi — the Sikh language — then Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Italian and German.

Khalsa, who represents the Sikh Community of Connecticut, said he wants people to feel connected to the city “in one way or other.” He designed the signs, which were paid for by the Sikh community of Norwich.

Khalsa, who owns Norwichtown Shell and a real estate business in Norwich, recently was honored by the FBI and by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Connecticut for his community work to promote racial and religious tolerance.

Khalsa thanked his friend Asif Mohomad, an Islamic American citizen originally from Pakistan, for helping to create the Arabic font for the welcome sign, and professor Bill Howe, who helped with the Chinese font.

“I would also like to add that this sign is a good start and positive step towards embracing our city diversity,” Khalsa said, “and I hope this will also help bring financial prosperity to our city of Norwich, as now more people in the world can relate themself to this city.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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