When Literacy Helps New US Citizens Achieve Their Dreams
Posted by Jennifer Vecchiarelli on September 22, 2017 in categoryStudent Stories categoryWomen's Empowerment

When we hear about adult learners who are succeeding in their efforts to gain basic literacy skills, we want to share their stories with you. Today, we are sharing the stories of individuals who passed their citizenship exams. 

Learning to Read for Her Family

This winter, the South Coast Literacy Council in Orange County, CA celebrated the new citizenship of one of its students, Badre Naqvi. She is a mother of five and a grandmother of six, with a devotion to the happiness and success of her family.

Badre was born in India and later settled in Karachi, Pakistan with her father and five siblings from 1947 to 2005.  After her husband passed away, Badre moved to the United States with her sons and later had a baby girl. She and her children lived in Little Rock Arkansas and in Virginia before landing in Yorba Linda, California in 2012. 
Even though she was unable to continue her education when she was younger, it was very important to Badre to make sure her five children attended and completed college – and they did. In 2015 she arrived at South Coast Literacy Council (SCLC) hoping to learn English and advance her own education.

In January 2017, Badre passed her citizenship with the help of her tutor, Judy Aleta. She is very happy with her classes at SCLC and always looks forward to meeting with her classmates every Tuesday. One of her sons told the council, “the English classes have greatly helped her by boosting her confidence and allowing her to pass the citizenship interview on her own.”

A Love, and a Leap, for English

At a young age, while attending high school in Iran, Shanin Talai fell in love with English—it was her favorite subject to study. After high school, she continued learning English as a hobby, got married, and became a mother. 

Four years ago, Talai and her husband came to the United States. Although she had spent many years practicing reading and writing in English, she struggled to understand Americans and everything going on in her community. Friends referred her to ReadWest, Inc. in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. ReadWest, Inc. is a nonprofit adult literacy agency that provides one-to-one tutoring sessions that help adults learn to read, write, and speak English. 

Talai enrolled in ReadWest’s U.S. Citizenship Preparation Course. With the help of her volunteer course tutor, Lynn Simpson, and the materials supplied by ProLiteracy’s National Book Fund, Talai achieved her goals. On June 26, 2017, Talai passed the course at ReadWest. She gained the vocabulary, civics, culture, and literacy skills she needed to prepare her papers for citizenship and pass the interview for the citizenship exam. She was sworn in as an American citizen in August 2017.