News & Blog: Learner Stories


Written by Carrie Roper, IET Coordinator

Cuban natives Barbara and Raul grew up in the same neighborhood in their home country, but they didn’t meet each other until they had both moved to the United States and had a chance encounter on Facebook. Not long after that, the couple found their way to West Michigan.

They now work together as distributors through Royal Prestige, selling flatware and other kitchen necessities by appointment.

After several years of living as permanent residents, Barbara and Raul decided to apply for U.S. citizenship, but were not sure where to turn. Another chance encounter led them to the Literacy Center’s citizenship class.

br2.jpg It was at one of their business appointments that they heard about the program from our Family Literacy Program Coordinator, Leandra. They were excited to learn about the opportunity and immediately signed up for our weekend citizenship classes last September. During the 15-week virtual class, they learned the English language skills they needed to pass the test and the interview. 

When asked about what they liked about the class, Barbara replied that “the books, the materials, and the teacher’s explanations were great” and that the content of the class not only prepared them for the interview but also taught them about the history, geography, and culture of the United States. They appreciated that their instructor, Theresa, went above and beyond just citizenship, sharing information about “Native American artists, interesting facts about history – everything.” Theresa’s “step by step” assistance was very helpful in preparing them for the interview and helping them understand what tasks they would need to complete. 

Raul and Barbara shared that a friend of theirs is going through the citizenship process and decided not to take the class. Without the support and instruction that Raul and Barbara received, he has not yet been able to pass his citizenship exam. Overall, Barbara and Raul would “recommend the class to anyone who wants to be a citizen. Go to the Literacy Center website,” they said. “They will help you!”

We are pleased to report that after a year of hard work, Barbara and Raul have both passed their citizenship interviews to become naturalized US citizens!

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