As a naturalized citizen, Rie Sugisawa wanted to use her knowledge of the naturalization process to help others. So Rie volunteers every week at IIBA’s Napa office, administering “mock” interviews to IIBA clients, preparing them for their citizenship interview.
I started volunteering with the International Institute of the Bay Area (IIBA) over three years ago. I attended IIBA's orientation and began helping individuals complete their citizenship applications. The flexible commitment really spoke to me. I have been volunteering about once a month since then.
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.’”
IIBA Legal Intern Lauren Bier is no stranger to volunteer work. “When I turned twelve years old my parents announced, ‘You’re old enough to start working at the soup kitchen!’” Her early experiences taught Lauren to appreciate the many advantages she has in life, and to look for opportunities to give back to her community.