This article is from the Spring 2007 edition of the Extension Connection newsletter.
The process of naturalization can be overwhelming for newcomers to the United States. Iowa State University Extension in Wapello County, in partnership with the New Iowan Center and Indian Hills Community College, is making this process easier for people in the Ottumwa area by offering citizenship classes.
Classes are held Friday mornings at the New Iowan Center and Wednesday evenings at Indian Hills Community College to accommodate varying schedules.
The program prepares the students for the citizenship examination, which shows that they know the responsibilities accompanying citizenship. This program benefits each student; however, it also benefits the community by strengthening the stability of families and the productivity of the workforce.
Himar Hernandez, an ISU Extension community development field specialist, teaches the class with PowerPoint slides. Group activities allow the students to learn from each other. Knowing that other people are sharing the experience makes obtaining citizenship more manageable.
Student Enrique Ramirez said, “I enjoy coming to class. I like the small groups and the activities. It is hard to learn the questions, but the games and the computer [presentation] that the teacher uses make the class fun.”
Graduate Kenneth Nyandiko said, “We learned more than just the answers to the questions that were to be on the test. Himar would explain to us why these questions were important to the history of the United States. It is something that most people take for granted in this country, but to take the oath [of citizenship], we must know how the country was founded.”
Twenty-five students have completed the program and twelve more are currently enrolled. The success of the class has led to talks of expanding the program to Mount Pleasant and West Liberty, Hernandez said. With sponsorship, Iowa Communications Network (ICN) classes may be offered to reach communities across Iowa.