STRANGERS IN TOWN is a 33-minute documentary film that looks at how global migration enriched Garden City, Kansas, transforming this small town into a multicultural mecca on the High Plains. Since 1980, economic migrants and refugees have been drawn to Garden City to work in its beef-packing plants. Rapid growth and a prolonged influx of people from Latin America, Asia, and Africa have created major demands on housing, social services, education, and infrastructure. At the same time, its many new “strangers in town” challenged Garden City’s ability to deal with cultural and racial diversity. 

The film tells how a conscious decision by the town’s leaders to view these enormous challenges as a blessing rather than a curse set the stage for the evolution of a welcoming community.  Told in the voices of those who live there, including Garden City High School students, for whom the town’s remarkable diversity is all they’ve ever known, STRANGERS IN TOWN gives new meaning to the city’s official motto: “the world grows here.” Produced and directed by Steve Lerner and Reuben Aaronson, the film is an uplifting story about immigration, providing an inspiring view of human possibility in the face of change. 

Don Stull, emeritus professor of anthropology at the University of Kansas, has studied and written about Garden City for three decades. He has this to say about the film:

"Strangers in Town provides a powerful antidote to the histrionics that so often drown out reasonable dialogue about immigration in these turbulent times. It offers an engaging glimpse of the positive relations between established residents and new immigrants in this High Plains town, a town that can—and should—serve as an exemplar for old-timers and newcomers alike, as we try to successfully navigate our way forward in the changing landscape that is 21st century America."

The film can be accessed free of charge for viewing and streaming at (If you click on the full screen icon just to the left of “Vimeo” at the lower right side of the video image, it will become full screen.) The film is free for anyone to use in classes or in any other way that would be helpful. We also urge people to send the link to anyone they think might be interested in seeing it.  Blu-ray disks and standard DVD’s are available as well (DVD’s are $8, and DVD’s are $10, no charge for shipping). A high resolution copy of the film on a flash drive can be provided for the most effective screenings in large venues. For questions please contact Steve Lerner at:

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