For 26 years of his life in Vietnam, Phong taught mathematics to students in secondary school, from 6th to 9th grade.

In 2015, Phong and his family were sponsored by his sister to come to the United States of America. In his own words, he decided to move because “America is a country of freedom, I wanted to have a better life to work even more hard, [to] bring freedom for me and my family. [To work for] a better future for my sons.”

When he first arrived in the United States, Phong learned it was important to learn to drive a car, study English and start a new career. Phong says, “Thanks to my friends in America, my relatives, also my acquaintances, I knew how…to look for jobs. [I had] lots of options…to choose.”

Although it has been 5 years since he came to the United States, Phong says he is always learning through new experiences. Phong says he realized “I want to live in the US for the rest of my life”, and “once becoming a US citizen, I’ll have the full rights of a US citizen, such as participating in political activities, joining a party I like, etc. Having a US passport one can travel abroad without time limits and is protected by the US government.”

Phong learned about Saint Marks from his friends, and signed up for Saint Marks Community Education Program (SMCEP) Citizenship Classes. Phong says:

“I have [had a] great experience with SMCEP. SMCEP is very helpful in helping me become a US citizen. Learners can attend classes repeatedly if needed to completely [learn] the citizenship process. The teachers and instructors are very patient and committed to the success of learners.

I learned US Civics and N-400 during SMCEP classes. As my English is not very good, I had to attend classes twice. Thanks to those classes and the instructions from wonderful teachers, I know more about US history and Civics, US citizenship process, etc and passed the tests to become a US citizen. I am very grateful to SMCEP and its teachers.”

Since he passed the US Citizenship Naturalization Interview and tests, Phong says he feels in better spirits. On January 25, Phong will attend the Oath Ceremony to officially become a citizen. He is proud to be a citizen of the United States of America, and to be able to vote in our democracy.

Congratulations Phong, the community of Saint Marks celebrates your achievements and is proud of your success as a student!

SMCEP volunteer Nancy helped tutor Phong in the weeks leading up to his Interview. Nancy commented, "I'm excited that Phong will be taking the oath to become a citizen on January 25. Until I started working with SMCEP, I never realized the day-to-day stress immigrants carry with them regardless of their status. Like he said, it is such a relief when they become US Citizens. That's when they have the total freedom they want when they come to the United States. Congratulations Phong! I hope you enjoy the freedoms that come along with being an American citizen."