Leska left Ukraine at a young age, learning to navigate hardship in an unfamiliar place before finding home and community in the Bay Area. After achieving her dream of becoming a U.S. citizen, Leska now hopes to coach and inspire others with the invaluable lessons from her own journey.
Before they met in 2015, Eric and Patricia each had complicated relationships with the U.S. immigration system. After falling in love and getting married, the couple would again have to navigate the complex system to prove their love to immigration officials.
“IIBA staff always kept me updated on the status of my case and made me feel secure,” says Amelia Hernandez. She appreciates that sense of security more than ever after her nightmarish journey to the U.S.
Javier is the first member of his family to graduate from college, with a degree in criminal justice from San Jose State University, and plans of becoming a police officer one day. His aspirations of protecting and serving his community stem from the many struggles he faced growing up.
I was already motivated to become a U.S. citizen, and my academic dreams only encouraged me more. I began the citizenship process by getting in contact with International Institute of the Bay Area. Having a U.S. passport feels like having a key to the world.
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.
We first introduced you to Moises in the winter of 2013. An ambitious and enthusiastic college student, Moises had come to the U.S. as a teenager to escape the growing dangers in his hometown in Mexico. While Moises was taking classes at Cañada Community College, IIBA helped him apply for U- Visa status.
“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.
“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.