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IRC citizenship classes promote civic engagement

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Passing the naturalization exam is just one goal of the IRC's civics classes.

Photo: IRC

Each week, about forty-five students meet virtually to study for their naturalization tests, one of the final steps in becoming a citizen of the United States. The naturalization test is challenging and contains a series of questions on U.S. history, systems of governments, and civics. It also includes an interview portion. To prepare students for this process, the IRC's immigration team hosts three virtual classes each week that help prepare students for their exam. Alysan, IRC's Civics and ESL Specialist, wants to make sure the classes go beyond test preparation - encouraging civic participation through an understanding of the systems, issues, and rights and responsibilities relevant to being a citizen. 

In each class session, students discuss civics content, like systems of government and legislation. Participants also learn about U.S. history, giving context to some of the questions on the exam. There is also a popular segment called "Ask an American" where students are able to get answers to questions they may have about civics, history, or culture. A recent question prompted a conversation about the symbols for the different political parties and what meaning those carry. Volunteers join sessions and lead breakout rooms, to give participants a chance to practice in a supportive, small-group environment. 

With the intention of widening the scope of the lessons and increasing civic participation, the class has invited speakers from the community to connect students with local government officials, organizers, and civic leaders. In March, King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay joined a class to speak about his journey as a former refugee and share about his experiences working in local government. Councilmember Zahilay shared some ways both local officials and citizens can create change, while participants had the opportunity to ask questions and share their own experiences with the Councilmember. Thank you to Councilmember Zahilay for joining and sharing his time and knowledge!

The IRC offers immigration services to newcomers of all backgrounds. Citizenship classes are free and open to anyone who wishes to apply for U.S. citizenship, and would like help preparing for their exam and interview. 

Virtual classes are currently taking place:

  • Tuesday from 1:00-2:30PM
  • Wednesday from 6:15-7:30PM
  • Thursday from 1:00-2:30pm (English practice session)

To ask questions or sign-up for classes, email Alysan.Croydon [at] rescue.org (subject: Citizenship%20Classes)  or call 206-623-2105.