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home : community : community Sunday, November 19, 2017

11/13/2013 Email this articlePrint this article 
Hmong Cultural Center Offers Free Classes to Help Older and Disabled Hmong Earn Their U.S. Citizenship

From Mark E. Pfeifer, PhD

Medical Waiver Citizenship class graduation ceremony. (Courtesy of HCC)
A Medical Waiver Citizenship Class at the Hmong Cultural Center. (Courtesy of HCC)
Lecturer, Anthropology, State University of New York, Institute of Technology; Empire State College

Consultant, Hmong Cultural Center

Editor, Hmong Studies Journal

Linked In Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/mark-pfeifer/1a/36b/127

Phone: 651-917-9937

Hmong Cultural Center in Saint Paul provides free Citizenship classes targeted towards the needs of the community. Hmong Cultural Center is currently accepting enrollment into its medical waiver citizenship classes for older and disabled Hmong refugees who have documentation from a medical doctor to take the Citizenship test from USCIS in their native Hmong language. Hmong Cultural Center will also provide translation assistance for naturalization interviews at the USCIS for enrolled students in the medical waiver classes. The medical waiver citizenship classes are offered Monday and Tuesdays from 12-2 PM and Wednesday and Thursdays from 12-2. In the last year alone, Hmong Cultural Center has helped more than 70 disabled and elderly Hmong earn their U.S. citizenship through this unique program.

Since 1996, hundreds of Hmong Americans eligible for medical waivers from USCIS due to physical disabilities, depression or other medical conditions have earned U.S. Citizenship after taking Citizenship classes at the Hmong Cultural Center which has been the primary local agency offering assistance to this special needs population with Citizenship-related services and classes. For more than 15 years, Hmong Cultural Center has a strong identity as the "Go-to" site for Citizenship-related services in the local Hmong community including test preparation classes, assistance to the refugee elderly in filling out medical waiver forms and transportation and translation at the local USCIS office in Bloomington, MN.

Teng's Story (Translated from Hmong to English)

My name is Teng Yang. I am a 54 year old man of the Hmong ancestry. I have 7 children of my own. I came to the United States in September of 1992. Prior to my arrival in the United States, I lived in a refugee camp called Ban Vinai. A lot of my people were harassed and badly beaten by the Thai officials because we aren't Thai nationals and didn't have equal rights.

When the Thai government officially closed the camp down in 1993, I decided to settle in California, because it was where my sponsor lived. I lived in California for about 15 years, then I moved to North Carolina. After three years in North Carolina, I moved to Alaska. After living in Alaska for two years, I moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota. During all these years, I had taken and failed the English U.S. Citizenship test six times. The reason why I failed was because I have medical issues with my learning capabilities. This prevented me from learning new things such as reading, writing, and speaking in the English language.

When I heard from my close relative that Hmong Cultural Center helps their clients to pass the U.S. citizenship process, I immediately called and registered to take classes at the center. I attended the Wednesday and Thursday classes, which start from 12 P.M. and end at 2 P.M. After several months of trying to memorize the test's answers, questions, and Citizenship interview answers, I was helped by my citizenship instructor to fill out the naturalization and fee waiver forms.

On March 8th, 2013, I tested and passed the U.S. citizenship test in the Hmong language. From this point forward, it will help me forget that I was a war-torn refugee, because with the help of your foundation and Hmong Cultural Center I was able to pass the Citizenship test. I am looking forward to being a hard working U.S. citizen, who helps to contribute to society and with a willingness to help and defend the U.S. constitution at any cost.

Hmong Cultural Center also provides free English language Citizenship Classes open to all community members. English language Citizenship Classes are offered Monday through Thursday 10 AM - Noon and Tuesdays and Thursdays 4-6 PM. English as a Second Language Classes for Immigrant and Refugee Adults are provided at the center Monday through Friday 10 AM - 2 PM and Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 4 - 6 PM.

For more information and/or to register for a free Citizenship or ESL class, please stop by Hmong Cultural Center at 995 University, Suite 214 in Saint Paul (Sunrise Market Building), call 651-917-9937, visit the Hmong Cultural Center website at http://www.hmongcc.org or e-mail cher@hmongcc.org


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