In September 2017, the University YMCA New American Welcome Center received a capacity-building grant from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to offer free citizenship classes in partnership with the Urbana Adult Education Center. After several months of outreach and planning, we launched our first classes in January 2018. The classes bring together students from all over the world—from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Mexico to China—to learn about U.S. history & civics and prepare for the citizenship test.
At the beginning of April, Meena Ghimere became our first ESL citizenship class student to pass the U.S. citizenship interview! Soon after immigrating to the U.S. from Nepal in 2012, Meena enrolled in English classes at the Urbana Adult Education Center. She credits ESL instructor and citizenship program coordinator, Kathy Maniates, as “an angel from heaven” and a life-changing source of support both in and out of the classroom.
Outside of the classroom, Meena works closely with her husband and two sons to run their family restaurant, Kohinoor, in Champaign. Together, they’ve created what Meena describes as a warm and loving environment in which customers can indulge in a variety of North Indian dishes, including her favorites: aloo gobi and baingan bhartha.
Meena is looking forward to becoming a U.S. citizen later this year when she takes the Oath of Allegiance. Although she does not think her day-to-day will change very much, she loves her life in the U.S. and is excited to experience the “feeling that you’re an American.” Registration for our summer session (May 22-July 5) is open.
To sign up or for more information, call 217-384-3530 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.