Most of us have a family member or close friend who came to the United States from another country. People have always been drawn to America so they can have a better life for themselves and their children. And there’s no better place to immerse yourself in American culture than New York City. People from all over the world have settled here, but it’s not always easy. Becoming a citizen, getting a job, or even just learning the subway system is a huge challenge for new immigrants who don’t understand English. Our citizenship programs aim to help immigrants become comfortable speaking and understanding English so they can pass citizenship tests, as well as play a bigger role in their community.
Clients at the Emerald Isle Immigration Center in Queens come from all over. One client, Lobsang, is a 72-year-old from China. At the time Lobsang registered for the ESL/Citizenship program, he did not speak, write, or read English at all. He only spoke Tibetan. After two years attending classes, Lobsang notably improved his ability to communicate in English. He was one of the most dedicated students we’ve ever had – he never missed a class, assignment, or test. Working one-on-one with New York Cares volunteers, Lobsang learned the alphabet and gained the tools and knowledge to pass the interview and test to earn his citizenship.
Another client, Luisa, is a 76-year-old from Bolivia. Our organization has known Mrs. Bilbao for about five years. She first came to the program to renew her permanent resident card. At that time we advised her to apply for the U.S. citizenship rather than renewing it. She was reluctant to do so due to her limited knowledge of the English language. Mrs. Bilbao attended the ESL/Citizenship classes for about two years, and with the help of New York Cares volunteers, Mrs. Bilbao was able to overcome her language barrier and earn her U.S. citizenship.
If you’re interested in working with us to help a New Yorker get their citizenship, sign up today.
By Emerald Isle Immigration Center staff