“I’ve always had a love for language. I’ve always liked working with people from different cultures and backgrounds,” says Anthony Moss. In his 11 years as IIBA’s lead citizenship instructor, Anthony has done exactly that, teaching an average of 400 citizenship students a year.
Anthony’s path to IIBA began at Thunderbird School of Global Management, where he was a student. “I quickly realized that I did not want to enter the business world, but the international component struck a chord. More than half of the students in my classes were foreign-born.” While in graduate school, Anthony spent a semester in Chile, which made him feel like a “citizen of the world” and inspired him to pursue a career helping diverse and underserved communities back home in the United States.
IIBA offered just the opportunity Anthony was looking for. While teaching ESL and U.S. civics to IIBA clients, Anthony says, he feels particularly drawn toward those students who have “a true transformation while in class.” One such student was Teresa Vega, an elderly woman who did not speak any English, but who had a deep desire to become a U.S. citizen. For a year and a half, with Anthony’s assistance, Teresa worked diligently to develop the language and writing skills she would need to pass the citizenship exam and interview. “Seeing her commitment to take on a challenge that most would feel is too difficult is truly inspirational.”
Of course the legal benefits that accompany citizenship are deeply important to IIBA clients, but Anthony also recognizes the intangible benefits permanent residents enjoy when they become U.S. citizens, like the confidence and agency they gain in the process. “They realize they can help at their children’s school or rally up members of their community to tackle issues around them. It is a powerful and emotional sight when a student returns to class with the good news that they are a newly-minted U.S. citizen.”
Along with the entire IIBA family, Anthony celebrates the great news that IIBA has been awarded a $250,000 grant from United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, to promote immigrant civic integration and prepare permanent residents for citizenship. With the help of this grant and with the dedicated service of instructors like Anthony, IIBA looks forward to celebrating the empowerment and citizenship of a growing number of clients in the Bay Area’s vibrant immigrant community.