“As a taxi driver, every day I pick up customers from different countries, who share their stories with me. This is very similar to my experience as a student in IIBA’s citizenship classes. I look at my classmates from Ukraine, Mexico, and China, and think, ‘Wow this is the United States,’” says Shodi.
Maria arrived at IIBA’s citizenship preparation class last Tuesday just as she had done every week for the past six months. But this Tuesday was different since Maria was there to inform her fellow classmates and IIBA staff that she had just passed her citizenship interview and was now a U.S. Citizen.
Through her accomplishment, Maria not only has earned full access to all the benefits of citizenship for herself, but she has also paved the way for her son. “Now that I have my citizenship, my son is eligible to become a U.S. citizen.” Asked what she would tell someone in need of immigration services, Maria says, “I would fully endorse IIBA to anyone in need of support and help to make their dreams come true.”
Monica began volunteering at IIBA in 2009, after leaving her position at a law firm. “I am not any different at IIBA than I would be at a firm,” she explains, “but I feel more appreciated for being who I am here. It’s a much more human interaction. I didn’t get hugged by my clients when I worked at a firm. I didn’t get told ‘You’re the only person in the world I trust.’” At IIBA, “Clients understand we have their best interests at heart.”
When Elena Knapton attended IIBA’s citizenship class, the instructor, Sean, impressed her right away. “In a classroom with so many people from so many different backgrounds, he made everyone feel comfortable. When I found out he was a volunteer, I thought, ‘He’s really walking the extra mile.’”
“I always wanted to make my mother proud,” says IIBA client Antonio Rojas. This desire became his guiding principal when Antonio left his home in Mexico, a twelve-year-old setting out on his own, seeking a better life in the United States.