The Political Science Junior Fellows completed their 2012 Citizenship Preparatory Course last night, marking the end of a four-week class designed to help local immigrants earn their citizenship.
The Junior Fellows developed this class with the Huntsville Public Library’s Literacy Coordinator, Richard Lane. After four years of partnering with Lane and the Library, the Junior Fellows found themselves handling it alone this year, when the Library closed temporarily for renovations.
Although recruitment was a challenge this year, we had thirteen immigrants sign up for the four-week course. During these four weeks, we covered the overall process of gaining citizenship, while focusing on material tested on the Naturalization Exam–an exam which includes dates, historical figures, events, governmental procedures and even US Holidays.
We ended the course with a holiday celebration of our own. Each of the Junior Fellows and the immigrants brought dishes from their native country, and we shared in a wonderful Thanksgiving feast.
The dinner was amazing. Our Central and South immigrants brought tamales, Empanadas, horchata, pupusas, and mole. From other parts of the world we had sweet and sour chicken (China), sushi (Japan), German potato salad, filipino noodles, bowtie pasta (Italian), sumosa (India), a African/French casserole, and banana fritter pancakes (Caribbean). Our American volunteers brought tomato soup, macaroni & cheese, apple pie, and pumpkin pie.
Other than the delightful food, the immigrants (and the Junior Fellows) learned a lot about American government. Did you know the high point of immigration in the United States was 1890-1910? Or that there are four amendments to the US Constitution that deal with voting? Did you know that the Mississippi is the second longest river in the United States, or that immigrants need to know that to pass their Naturalization Exam?
Studying for the exam requires a lot of work, but we’ve found that that’s not really a problem for the immigrants who have signed up for our program. Over the past five years, we’ve worked with 100 immigrants from some 20-25 countries. More than twenty have gone on to gain their citizenship–and most are still working toward that goal.
Based on the knowledge the participants demonstrated at the end of the course, more than half of this year’s class should be ready to pass their exam in the next three-to-six months–and that benefits everyone!