Tag Archives: English Language Acquisition for Adults

Realizing the American Dream

With new citizens Viri and Simin

With new citizens Viriviana and Simin (right)

Earlier this week, I joined with business, education and government partners at an important announcement by Mayor Jonathan Rothschild: Tucson would join more than two dozen major U.S. cities in the Cities for Citizenship initiative.

The mayor explained that people who want to become U.S. citizens can face educational and financial hurdles, and that Cities for Citizenship would support those who want to take on the rights and responsibilities that citizenship entails.

The announcement was made at the College’s El Pueblo Liberty Learning Center. It was an appropriate venue, as PCC has for years been a provider of effective citizenship education.

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After the announcement, Xail Hernandez, a PCC instructor in English Language Acquisition for Adults who also works with our AmeriCorps program, shared information.

Our citizenship classes are part of our Adult Basic Education for College & Career division. All of our classes, including citizenship classes, are free and open to everyone. This year 366 students received more than 3,300 hours on Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship instruction at classes taught at the El Pueblo Liberty Learning Center, El Rio Learning Center, and the 29th Street Coalition Center, as well as several area libraries.

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Simin and Linda, a volunteer citizenship instructor

Citizenship instructors are trained volunteers who get ongoing support and professional development.  We have some who have volunteered with us for over 15 years.

About 60 of our students have become citizens this year, and two were acknowledged during the announcement of the initiative.

This topic is personal for me. My mother came to the U.S. from South Korea in the 1960s, seeking her vision of the American Dream. My family’s story is, at its essence, similar to hundreds of millions of stories in our great country. As one speaker put it, virtually all of us are descended from immigrants.

PCC is eager to help provide the education component to the Cities for Citizenship initiative. We are proud to join with the Mayor’s Office, Chicanos Por La Causa, Citi, Vantage West Credit Union, Pima County Library and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to empower new citizens who contribute to the ongoing prosperity and sustainability of our nation.

Plenty to be thankful for

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My visit to the El Rio Learning Center today reaffirmed that the College provides access to a phenomenally wide spectrum of community members.

I met students in a High School Equivalency preparation mathematics class, where I tried to impress upon them the need for everyone to have a solid grounding in math in order to make sensible financial choices, whether for a family or for a large community college such as PCC. I also met students in our Refugee Education and English Language Acquisition for Adults programs. The refugee-students came to us from Sudan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Bhutan and the Congo, among other nations. To a person, they were grateful for the opportunity to restart their lives in the U.S.

Similarly, our ELAA students were both diverse in background and unified in their appreciation for the opportunities PCC affords them. They are learning English to get better jobs, start a business, volunteer in their children’s classrooms, or improve communication with their loved ones; two recently became U.S. citizens.

The key point to remember is that although they come to us from around the globe and from all walks of life, these folks are Pima Community College students. In their desire to improve their circumstances through education, they are no different from anyone else at PCC. I recognize the enormity of the College’s ability and responsibility to affect individual lives, and am thankful that PCC has the opportunity to serve them.