Linnea Johnson, instructor of Citizenship classes at the Eperanza Center, celebrates with Marco Ordonez-Sanchez after he passed the Naturalization Exam to become a U.S. citizen.

Originally from Ecuador, Marco Ordonez-Sanchez has dreamed of becoming a United States citizen since moving to the states with his wife Maritsa and their two children more than 5 years ago. Thanks to the help of the Esperanza Center that dream has recently become a reality.

In partnership with Baltimore City Community College, the Esperanza Center English Language Program began offering Citizenship classes during the Fall of 2010. The classes are taught by a professional ESOL/U.S. Civics and Citizenship trained teacher with the aid of trained volunteers.  Marcos was the first of five students to pass the Naturalization Exam and become a U.S. citizen in the first few months of the classes being offered.

The Citizenship classes consist of lectures, small group activities, and one-on-one instruction. Much of the coursework focuses on U.S. History and Government, but the last few classes each semester focus heavily on the oral part of the exam where an applicant must orally answer questions on any topic within the guidelines of the test, randomly chosen and then asked by the interviewer. Students must understand the questions and give coherent, thoughtful answers. These oral questions, as well as the 100 questions on the written part of the exam, are some that people born and living in the United States their entire lives may even find difficult to answer.

Understandably, the exam is a difficult task for a non-English speaker to face. To support clients who do not have a high English proficiency, the Esperanza Center also holds informal classes teaching English through the topics of U.S. Civics and Government. With the informal classes, clients can start on the road to becoming successful and contributing members of society before entering the formal classes.

The Esperanza Center looks forward to offering two more Citizenship class sessions this Spring. And Marco, who has been working as a meat cutter, plans to enroll in college classes to study Electrical Engineering, now that he is officially a U.S. Citizen.


Esperanza Center