Letter to the Editor

A source for citizenship (help spread the word)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

September 13th marks the beginning of our fifth year of offering citizenship classes to the community. You've probably seen the announcement at one time or another--our class is an eight-week session that helps those seeking U.S. citizenship prepare for the civics and English tests that they'll face during their Naturalization Interview.

At our first session, we talk about the Pilgrims and the reasons they immigrated to the New World. By the end of eight weeks, we've travelled from the 1600s to present day and have woven our way through the founding fathers, the Bill of Rights, slavery, the Civil Rights Movement, and every war from 1775 to our more recent military conflicts.

Our powerpoint presentations add life to each discussion, but the ones that generate the most interest are those about political parties, the three branches of government, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens. The details are dense but by this point--these discussions occur during sessions four and five--our class participants are comfortable. Their questions and comments aren't so much about memorizing the correct answers for the test; they're about understanding why America is who she is--the context behind the current issues that they're talking about with their families and co-workers.

We sometimes worry that we'll lose half our class after sessions four and five, but we seldom do. Instead, we see a stronger commitment. A commitment not only to finish the class but to understanding, supporting, and participating more fully in the community.

We're excited about the upcoming year and welcome all who are eligible for naturalization to our table. Our fall session meets from September 13 to November 1; our winter session will meet from January 18 to March 8 and our spring session from March 7 to April 25. Additional details and application forms are at the library.

Thank you to the Friends of Storm Lake Library for allowing us to use your space. Thank you to St. Mark Lutheran Church for incurring the costs of the materials and the time it takes to photocopy those materials. Thank you to the BVU students, supportive family members, and St. Mark volunteers who have helped interpret at various times. And thank YOU, citizens by birth and citizens through naturalization, for helping spread the word.