Today, I want to congratulate IIIC’s Education Services team for reaching their goal of assisting 125 immigrants to become citizens through a US government grant (USCIS). Our Director of Education Services, Bonnie Greenwood, instructors Marisa Bennett, Erin Chubb, and Maya Nunez, and their team of interns and volunteers helped students prepare for their citizenship interview, including passing the civics test and meeting English eligibility requirements. Congratulations to all the students, new citizens, and to our staff!
When we started out on the project, I was so impressed with Bonnie’s leadership in being able to recruit 125 students, with beginner level English, over the two year period. These students participated in a 10 week, bi-weekly course, and needed to demonstrate significant improvement in their English proficiency over such a short period of time.
Bonnie stepped up to the challenge with such a positive spirit, and worked so hard in partnership with our legal team and with other organizations (who referred students) to accomplish this goal.
I am reminded of the Irish writer, George Bernard Shaw’s quote:
“I hear you say “Why?” Always “Why?” You see things; and you say “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say “Why not?”
Our students and clients dream of things that never were, and say “why not?” They press forward in spite of obstacles and challenges, going on to become US citizens, wonderful neighbors, and community members.
Ronaldo Pires is a great example of someone here in the IIIC community who also asked “why not” rather than “why.” Ronaldo fled Brazil three years ago following police brutality and discrimination. He came to the United States, having received asylum seeker status and completely determined to improve his future. Ronaldo faced a number of challenges upon his arrival, but he never gave up. When he realized that US citizenship would provide him with the best pathway towards stability, success, and happiness, he courageously reached out to the IIIC.
Working alongside our citizenship coordinator, Erica Snyder-Drummond, Ronaldo put all of his efforts into preparing an application and for his naturalization exam. Ronaldo says that his swearing-in ceremony at Faneuil Hall was “just like a dream come true.” He recently visited the IIIC and shared remarkable updates on improvements in his life and career since gaining citizenship. Ronaldo really is an inspiring member of our community.
May we have the courage to ask “why not?” and to go for it as we face into our challenges and opportunities.
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend, and week ahead.