Welcome to Our Newest Citizen

US flagNancy, a Craven Literacy tutor, just witnessed her student Te (not her real name) take her Oath of Citizenship in Durham.  Kudos to them both for all their hard work! Below is  Nancy’s moving account of the citizenship process with her student.

On Friday, October 28, I had the pleasure of witnessing Te take her Oath of Citizenship at the US Citizenship and Immigration Service in Durham. For refugees, Burmese in this case, this in an awesome step in their lives. Te has been studying to be a citizen for about 2 ½ years. She attends a weekly citizenship class offered through the Craven Literacy Council . She also takes a second class each week to study the English language. In all that time, she has missed maybe one or two classes, always arriving early with her beautiful smile and eagerness to learn.

Through Interfaith Refugee Ministry, Te arrived in the U.S. in July  2010, with her husband and three children. A fourth child was born here. She works in a part-time job as an office cleaner. Her husband works full-time. In addition to this, she has shown her dedication and desire to attend classes twice a week. The application process for citizenship is multi-fold. There is an 18-page ‘Application for Citizenship’ form to be completed, a challenge in itself. This is sent for review and if accepted, a notice is sent for the applicant to go to Durham for fingerprinting. After a waiting period, the applicant is given a date to go back to Durham. They then take the ‘Interview Test’ on reading, writing, history, government, and understanding verbal questioning. When that is passed, the third and final step is to go back to Durham to take the Oath of Citizenship, as happened on October 28.

There were 57 applicants representing about 40 countries, who had completed all the requirements. The Oath Ceremony consisted of short speeches, the Pledge of Allegiance, a video of American places and faces. There was also a video of the President welcoming and encouraging new citizens to observe their rights and responsibilities as naturalized citizens. The new citizens were asked to stand and be recognized as they received their ‘Certificate of Naturalization’. Following that, there were many pictures, hugs, and yes, some happy tears.

What a privilege it was to be a witness to that solemn and happy occasion. Many thanks are due the Craven Literacy Council and all its supporters. They have the will, the desire, and the excitement to enable the process.

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Become a Literacy Tutor

stack of booksWe’re getting ready to begin another new tutor training workshop. If you’ve ever thought about being a literacy tutor, please come to our orientation on July 12. You can register here.

Anyone can be a tutor. You don’t have to be a teacher or have any special skills. If you can read, if you care about helping others, if you can commit to 3-4 hours per week for a couple of months — you can be a tutor.

Craven Literacy Council offers instruction in adult basic English, as well as English as a second language and help preparing for the US citizenship examination. Come to the new tutor training workshop and learn how satisfying it is to give back to your community through tutoring.

Immigrant Runs Own Business and Earns Citizenship

tutor and Gloria
Tutor and her student, a proud new US citizen

When Gloria Aranda came to Craven Literacy Council in 2007 with a high school certificate from her native Colombia, her oral English abilities were sufficient only to satisfy basic survival needs and very routine social demands. She appealed to CLC for help communicating effectively so that she could be involved at her daughter’s school, participate in her church, find employment, and ultimately become a US citizen. Three years later Gloria’s oral skills had increased so much that she could function independently and competently in social and work situations. She is now actively involved with her daughter’s schooling and is comfortable interacting with her daughter’s counselor. Gloria understands the English sermons at her church and sings the hymns in English.

Not only did Gloria get a job – she started her own small business. Her enhanced English listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills permit her to communicate with her customers by telephone and face-to-face. Gloria also worked with her tutor to learn computer and technology skills that many take for granted. She now communicates with her customers via e-mail and creates professional invoices using her new skills. Gloria celebrates other achievements such as knowing how to write checks and deposit slips as well as using the internet to check her bank account online.

Gloria continues to work with a literacy tutor at Craven Literacy Council. In 2015 she met a long-held goal of passing the naturalization test and becoming a United States citizen. She and her tutor worked diligently with the civics material provided to her free of charge. She completed her application and went through the multi-step process to becoming a US citizen. In a recent communication with CLC Gloria wrote, “My experience has been wonderful because now I can communicate better in whatever place I go. ” Craven Literacy Council celebrates Gloria’s hard work. We are thankful to be part of her success story.

US Citizenship for CLC Student

photo of tutor and student
Tutor with new US citizen Gloria Aranda

Gloria Aranda was all smiles after becoming a naturalized citizen during a ceremony in Durham this month. Since arriving from Colombia in 2004, she has worked hard to master the English language to be able to help her daughter do well in school.

Gloria came to Craven Literacy Council two years ago, and we paired her with a volunteer tutor. The duo has been studying together ever since. In that time Gloria has steadily improved her English proficiency. When she decided to work toward achieving citizenship status both she and her tutor studied U.S. history and civics together. This summer the hard work paid off with Gloria’s earning of US citizenship.

Read more of Gloria’s story here in the New Bern SunJournal.