Since January, two RISE AmeriCorps Members have been essential in helping a group of refugees from Burma on their way to U.S. citizenship. Thu Meh and Pray Meh, who serve with EMBARC, host a weekly class to help fellow members of the Karenni community excel on their interviews and tests.
Thu Meh said the citizenship class is extremely important for her community, because passing the interview and civics test are required in order to be awarded citizenship. Citizenship has many advantages for immigrants and refugees living in the U.S., including easier access to public benefits, the freedom to travel abroad, the ability to vote, family reunification for their loved ones in other countries, and more.
Thu Meh takes advantage of her multilingual skills to create and print out materials for the class to study each week. She and Pray Meh are currently helping the students move through the 100 questions of the civics citizenship test, reviewing up to 10 questions on American history and government per week. The students are gaining progress through tests on the previous week’s content.
“The classes will help people prepare and be helpful for people who need basic English help, and who cannot practice by themselves,” Thu Meh said. “They need someone’s help to study for the test.”
During the actual citizenship test, 10 questions are randomly chosen from the 100 potential ones and six correct answers needed to pass. The pass rate as of June 2021 is 91 percent.
The Karenni citizenship class will also help the refugees from Burma feel more comfortable and prepared during their citizenship interview. Immigrants and refugees must answer a series of questions about their personal background to pass the process.
Pray Meh was inspired to help with the class after her mother, who does not speak much English, paid for assistance from a lawyer and interpreter during the citizenship process, but was ultimately scammed out of a large sum of money. Now, Pray Meh is empowering community members who want to prepare on their own through the free class from EMBARC.
“I’m so excited about my community having a class,” Pray Meh said. “My goal is to help my community and push them to become citizens and pass the test.”