YWCA of Tulsa


Are you smarter than a US Citizen?

May 30, 2016
Entry by Elyse Urbonas
Staff Writer
Imagine living in a country where you have no rights. You are lost; you have to navigate the country by yourself with no friends or family. Does this seem intimidating? Immigrants feel this way every day in America. 
Have you heard about our Project Citizenship program? I am here to brag on one of our amazing YWCA employees. Her name is Irena Cheveleva and she has been with YWCA for seventeen years. She is our Refugee Project Manager; she makes an impact on the lives of immigrants every day.
I interviewed Irena and we talked about what her typical day looks like along with the struggles she experiences when working with her clients. If immigrants do not obtain citizenship within seven years after arriving in America, they lose their benefits. If immigrants cannot pay for our services, we work with them. 
“I literally get to change people’s lives in a better way,” Irena said. Irena went on to say that “it is the biggest reward that she could ever get. They are so proud of their accomplishments and being able to vote and have the same rights as other U.S. citizens.” 
This is the rewarding side of Irena’s job. However, there are some cases where she is unable to help people due to different situations. The hardest part for Irena is when she has to tell her clients that there is nothing she can do.  However, she still makes a point to help them in any way possible.
This could inlcude directing them to a specific type of lawyer that can help them or getting them the resources to succeed in this country. Citizenship Classes are for students at intermediate and above levels of English proficiency. The 40-hour, 10-week Citizenship class expands on the necessary US civics vocabulary and topics necessary for successfully passing the US naturalization exam. All 100 exam questions are covered and emphasis is put on interview practice, as well as helpful test taking strategies!
I was put on the test as I asked Irena to quiz me on five questions from the material used in the citizenship test. I thought surely I would be able to pass with flying colors; however, quite the opposite happened. I missed all five questions! 
I was shocked how much I didn’t know about my own country. Why do we make it so hard for other people to gain the same freedom that we as American born citizens have? I am blessed to have been born in America, because this test is not something I could have passed easily. 
Ready to find out how much you know? Below I have posted the questions that Irena asked me during our interview. 
1.) What does the constitution do?
2.) How many amendments does the constitution have?
3.) What is the economic system in the United States?
4.) How many U.S. senators are there in congress?
5.) If both the President and Vice President can no longer serve. Who will become the President?
Think you got all five correct? Check back next week to find out the answers!
If you or someone you know has questions regarding Project Citizenship immigration information, please contact Irena Cheveleva, refugee program manager, 918-663-2244 or e-mail her at icheveleva@ywcatulsa.org.
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