When We Reach Our Dreams! New Citizens in South Dakota

November 12, 2019
studentsandteachersatcitceremony

LSS Teachers pose with two new American citizens after the ceremony

September 6, 2019, was a magnificent day for many reasons.  For starters, it is was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, a reminder of our quickly ending summer.  Secondly, on that day 200 people from 37 different countries became United States citizens right here in Sioux Falls.

Just what does it mean to be a citizen of the United States?  It says on my passport that I am a citizen of the United States, but somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I know that my ancestors loved other countries: Germany, Norway, Prussia, and England.  However, although these places are intriguing for me, I have pride and love for only one country, the United States of America.

newcitswithamericanflag

Two New American Citizens pose with the American Flag

The same goes for our new citizens.  They have pride and love for this new country.  To come to this country, they left behind everything they knew and loved in hopes to start a new life, a better life, a safer life, and to be part of the American dream.  As the keynote speaker fittingly said, it is with utmost dedication and determination that people are willing to leave their homeland, their “most sacred,” to come to America.

So as I watched 200 new citizens swear the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, I found it very fitting that the opening speaker had mentioned the stamina and determination of their own ancestors and had admonished, “I really hope you never lose that internal resolve that brought you here to the United States.”

A New American citizen folds the flag to the National Anthem

 

Then later as the mayor spoke, I had to agree with him that our community is full of diversity and that our “new citizens have a voice and responsibility to participate,” and to be “a part of this city, this community,” through voting, mentoring, and volunteering.

Written by Heather Glidewell | LSS Center for New Americans | Adult ESL Instructor

300 East 6th Street, Suite 100 | Sioux Falls, SD 57103

1-866-242-2447 toll free | 605-731-2059 fax


On the Road to Citizenship!

August 1, 2017

On Friday and Saturday mornings, something special takes place at the Center for New Americans. As soon as the doors open, about 100 adult students show up, eager, happy, and ready to work.  There are always lots of smiles and laughter, but the students come for some very serious work.

All of these students are refugees and immigrants who have lived in the United States for the past year or more, and now they want the opportunity to become citizens of this country where they have felt welcomed and secure, raised their families, paid taxes, and grown to love. These super dedicated students take time out of their lives, their work schedules, their families, to come and learn about U.S. history, U.S. civics, and U.S. geography.  Students learn how to read and write English and build confidence in their listening and speaking skills. They faithfully come to Citizenship class, because they all share the hope and dream of becoming a citizen themselves…some day!

Sitting alongside these students are classroom volunteers. Just like the students they help, these volunteers set aside time out of their busy weekly schedules to make a difference. Being a volunteer is an invaluable experience.  Here are a few of the benefits of being a volunteer:

  • Enjoy helping others learn
  • Give back to the community
  • Become aware of needs in the community
  • Share valuable skills and knowledge
  • Learn about new cultures
  • Help people understand American culture, history, and the English language
  • Build bridges across cultures
  • Make new friends
  • Discover and build new skills and ideas
  • Have an overall positive experience

What does it take to become a U.S. Citizen?

The U.S. naturalization process is an expensive and difficult process. Candidates for naturalization need to undergo and pass an intensive interview in English.

Candidates must then undergo an oral examination on U.S. history and government where they must listen to and correctly answer six out of ten questions that are randomly chosen from 100 possible civics, history, and geography questions. Would you pass? The USCIS has an online practice test: https://my.uscis.gov/prep/test/civics

Finally candidates are required to demonstrate their English reading and writing ability. Candidates must pass all three exams before being recommended for citizenship (naturalization).

Want to be a citizenship classroom volunteer?

Contact Kristyne.Walth@lsssd.org.

Need free citizenship classes?

You can receive free citizenship classes if you bring your green card. Call 731-2000 to schedule an enrollment appointment for the next class session.

Want help filling out the “citizenship application” or N-400?

Call 731-2000 to schedule an appointment with an immigration attorney for reduced or free rates.

Want to know more about the process of becoming a citizen?

Visit the USCIS website https://www.uscis.gov/ for details.

Written by Heather Glidewell

 


LSS is Awarded USCIS Citizenship and Integration Grant

November 3, 2016
Canab and Paulina Became US Citizens This Year Through the USCIS Grant

Canab and Paulina became US Citizens this year through the USCIS Grant

The LSS Center for New Americans program was one of more than 160 applicants for the 2016 USCIS Citizenship and Integration Grant which provides Citizenship instruction and naturalization application assistance at free and reduced rates.

The LSS Center for New Americans was one of the 46 elite programs to obtain this very competitive grant and has had a track record for maintaining high-quality education and naturalization services for three previous grant cycles.

What does this mean to immigrants in South Dakota?

  • Free Citizenship Classes at three levels of instruction: Citizenship Class 1, 2 and 3.

When students successfully complete Citizenship Class 3 they are ready to pass the rigors of the naturalization interview. These classes are for any legal permanent residents (Green Card holders) in the community. This grant also provides classes for immigrants living in Huron and Aberdeen.

  • Reduced rates for attorney assistance in the naturalization process, or as we like to tell our clients, “Citizenship on Sale!”

For only $50 a legal permanent resident with five years of residence in the USA will have the assistance of an attorney to complete the N-400 naturalization application. Applicants who meet low-income guidelines will receive attorney assistance for free and a fee waiver for the federal application fee. The immigration attorneys take appointments in Sioux Falls, Huron and Aberdeen.

This grant serves about 200 legal permanent residents each year in Citizenship Classes and about 300 per year with naturalization services.

Any legal permanent resident interested in classes or application help can call 731-2000 to make an appointment.

lss-citizenship-students-in-pierre

LSS Citizenship and Civics students learn about American systems of government in South Dakota’s Capitol


Who? What? Where? When? Classes at the Center for New Americans

November 25, 2014

As a follow up to LSS President Betty Oldenkamp’s blog about the “most controversial and least understood” work being done at the Center for New Americans, I asked our Education Program Coordinator, Laura Smith-Hill to field some commonly asked questions by the public about classes held at LSS.

Education Program Coordinator, Laura Smith-Hill, with learners from her English classes

Education Program Coordinator, Laura Smith-Hill, with learners from her English classes

What kinds of classes are available at the Center for New Americans?

We offer four levels of English, three levels of Citizenship, STEP (Skills That Employ People) including Job-Specific English Classes, and Computer Classes.

Who can attend classes?

Any immigrant wanting to learn English can attend classes. Classes are free for everyone who has an immigrant visa and for those who don’t, they can attend by paying a small monthly fee.

When do you have classes?

We have English classes five times a day. Daytime hours are from 8-10, 10-12, 12:30-2:30, and 3-5 Monday through Thursday. Evening hours are from 6-8 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

We offer Citizenship classes in the evenings on Tuesdays and Thursdays and on Saturday mornings.

How long does it take a student to progress through your program?

Every learner is different. The speed of program completion is contingent on the level of previous education, age, and penchant for language learning. We typically cycle through content every quarter and a learner is allowed to repeat until they have mastered that levels content.

Where do learners who graduate from your program typically go afterwards?

Some learners continue their education at Southeast Technical Institute to study for their G.E.D. Some learners attend Kilian Community College’s Bridges Program to prepare for higher education. And some learners go directly to local colleges’ and universities’ education programs.

How can I get involved?

 Contact Kristyne, our volunteer coordinator, at 731-2009 to start the process to become a volunteer classroom assistant.

Over 400 students pass through the doors for classes at the Center for New Americans new home at 114 S. Main Ave

Over 400 students pass through the doors for classes at the Center for New Americans new home at 114 S. Main Ave


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