Written by: Maureen Boyce (freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences)
Volunteering at the Juan Diego Center this semester has changed my views on the immigration process. It gave me the unique opportunity to see this process from the perspective of an immigrant going through the arduous journey of gaining citizenship. It’s inspiring to see the people work so hard to overcome their language barriers, which is often the hardest part of the whole process. Because they must answer questions in English, it forces them to learn a specific vocabulary not used in everyday language. But they still come to the center even when they are tired after a long day at work. Many have the additional burden of having to overcome health issues in order to practice for their test. They persevere because they believe that it is important.
In some ways the test provides an interesting peek into what the government believes is important for immigrants to learn before they become citizens. Sometimes the questions are a bit strange but most are about the unique rights and privileges that one has as an American citizen. One of the participants, a man from Cuba, told a volunteer that the difference between his country and America is that in Cuba things (such as healthcare) are free, yet they, the people, are not free. But in America, though things are not free, we are free. His statement reminds me how fortunate we are to live in America, where our rights are protected by our Constitution.
It’s easy to forget the enormity of an immigrants’ decision to become an American citizen. Looking at the application and the questions they are asked reminds me about the sacrifice they are making to become a citizen. It’s a moving experience to ask an immigrant if they are willing to give up loyalty to all other countries in favor of America. But they are ready to take the oath of allegiance to the United States because they truly believe that their lives will be better as American citizens. Volunteering at the Juan Diego Center is a great experience and I recommend it to anyone looking to serve the community.
The CCSJ blogs are meant to be a place for Creighton students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, and friends to reflect on their experiences with programs sponsored by the office or related to its mission. The views expressed in these reflections, and all other blogs found on or linked to from this website, are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of Creighton University, the Creighton Center for Service and Justice (CCSJ), or any of the University’s affiliates. The University and the CCSJ are not responsible for the actions, content, accuracy, or opinions expressed in these blogs.