The Student Experience
“While many immigrants like me initially were worried that our new country wouldn't be friendly to us, I learned quickly how much our teachers here cared for us. Their volunteering, taking their own time to selflessly give, imparted in me a sense that I was accepted.”
“Thank you , dear teachers for the class! All teachers are very clear and patient . Every class is very well organized through the common teaching and the breaking rooms.”
"Traditionally, when students pass their naturalization interviews and become new citizens, we celebrate together with food".
At a luncheon in 2019, Yen Nguyen spoke on behalf of her fellow students who have also become citizens. Her words are validation of the efforts of teachers, volunteers, and students
The Volunteer Experience
Teachers and volunteers come to our program from many backgrounds and range in age from college students to retirees. At St. Mark’s, they find a rewarding and supportive experience.
Maya, Citizenship Volunteer:
“ I would definitely recommend this. It was great. It was really rewarding. I really liked meeting new people and seeing different stories and cultures. There’s a large Vietnamese population and they used to make traditional Vietnamese food for us which is very sweet. I got exposed to a lot of cultures that I wouldn’t usually get exposed to because I’m Irish. Since immigration is such a hot topic and I kinda see another side of it.”
Liz, Citizenship Teacher:
“My parents were Philippines immigrants, and so … I decided to really focus on helping with the citizenship project. I just find it so gratifying I can’t even tell you. Especially you know my father became a citizen, my mother did not. She captured her legal status, but she didn’t become a citizen. … I think that held her back and made her not have the confidence she could’ve had [for the exam]. For those reasons, I decided to volunteer for the citizenship program, and I started off with teachers doing small groups. From there, I was asked to become a teacher [which] I’m thrilled to do.”
Hannah, ESOL volunteer:
“I find it fantastic that even after a long day at work the students are still able to come into class and get excited about learning. While volunteering a main goal of mine has been to be welcoming and helpful to immigrants who could be struggling with their new environment. Being able to get to know and help the students improve their speaking skills has been an extremely fulfilling opportunity for me.”
Meg, ESOL and Citizenship tutor:
“I admire the enthusiasm of the students who are very passionate about learning English and for many of them getting their citizenship. I love seeing the same student’s term after term and seeing the improvement in their English ability”