Posted by Ena Feinberg

In early October, I wrote about receiving a grant that would enable us to provide classes for people wanting to become citizens. I am thrilled to report that in the first half year of the grant, the program has served 60 people. Thirty-eight have already applied for citizenship. The clients come from a very wide variety of countries: Angola, Portugal, Dominican Republic, Somalia, Uganda, Haiti, Russia, Latvia, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, and Burma.

A Russian couple writes:

We would like to share with you the experience that we have had at our US Civics class led by Ena Feinberg. We have already passed the naturalization exam and are scheduled to take an oath in May of 2011. The class has helped us tremendously in our preparation for the exam. We have reviewed all the issues that were to be covered at the exam. The interview happened to be much easier than the citizenship class. We are very pleased with the class and are very happy that we had an opportunity to participate in its work.

A woman who came here 25 years ago but was afraid to apply for citizenship, writes:

I had the pleasure of taking a citizenship class that was offered at Jewish Family & Children's Service in Waltham. The class was held for 10 weeks and was conducted as real life experience. We discussed various issues including the history of the USA, the Constitution, different branches of the government, etc. The mock interview that we had in class was very close to the real one and the presence of the person from US Department of Homeland Security added to the seriousness of the procedure. I have already successfully passed my exam and believe that I would not have done it without the class.

Svetlana Stepanskaia was hired in November 2010 as Program Coordinator and ESL Instructor. She does outreach in different communities to recruit students and explain the value of the program. She also teaches beginning and intermediate ESL classes to people who otherwise would not be proficient enough to take the naturalization test. Svetlana says that "helping people fulfill their dreams of becoming US citizens is very gratifying. It would be difficult to overemphasize the pride and joy of those who succeed in achieving life time goals they might not have thought possible."

Ena Feinberg is Director of New American Services. She came to the United States from Russia in 1987, after having been a refusenik for eight years. She has worked at JF&CS since January 1988.