One of the many services offered by the Immigration department at the IRC in San Diego is a free Citizenship Test Preparation Course to help individuals learn the material they will need to know in order to pass the United States citizenship examination. In addition to civics, students have the opportunity to get connected to their community through field trips thorughout the course.
In October our City Heights class with students from Mexico, Laos, Burma, Haiti, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and Vietnam ventured outside the classroom for one such community field trip. The trip started at the City Heights Farmers' Market, where students learned about the Fresh Fund program which matches $5 of EBT credit dollar for dollar to enable families to purchase more fresh produce at farmers' market. The class then visited various vendors on a scavenger hunt. Students pointed out and shared with each other some of the vegetables they enjoy, such as bitter melon and taro, and practiced their English while speaking with vendors and customers to find out what food is grown locally and how to use it in a recipe. The students even met one vendor who had been a refugee resettled through the IRC, taken the Citizenship Test Prep course 5 years later, and recently became a citizen!
After purchasing some food and marigolds, the group headed to the Dia de los Muertos celebration at nearby Officer Henwood Memorial Park. The students talked to several of the people setting up altars to learn about this Mexican (and American!) tradition. Students even stopped to make a small altar to honor some of their loved ones who have died. The trip ended at a picnic table where the students discussed what they had seen and experienced and took some time to review the lesson of the day on the Federal, State and local governments and civic engagement.