Civics Lesson for an Old Citizen

20130124-092602.jpg I’ve been helping a young Vietnamese woman prepare for the citizenship test she hopes to take at the end of the year. Besides working on her basic English skills, she also needs to master the civics portion of the test. We have some study materials from the government that I go over with her every week. We read a couple of pages at a time and then discuss them. Last week we read about the United States being a representative democracy and what that means. I told her that our elected officials represent our wants and wishes, and if they don’t speak for us the way we want them to, then we can vote for someone else during the next election. I also told her that the only way for our representatives to speak accurately for us is to let them know how we feel about issues through letters and emails. Otherwise, our representatives will listen to lobbyists.

I was caught up short. Here I was giving a civics lesson to this immigrant who wants desperately to become a citizen when what I really needed was a civics lesson for myself, someone whose family has been in this land since before the Revolution. When was the last time I let my representatives know my views? I talked it over with my husband and he was as convicted as I was. Thanks to teaching civics to my young friend, I hope to become a better citizen myself.

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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19 Responses to Civics Lesson for an Old Citizen

  1. pattisj says:

    You are so right, Susan. Those with the loud voices will be making their opinions known, the rest of us need to be sure ours are heard.

  2. Robin says:

    Excellent lesson and reminder, especially to those of us (pointing a finger at myself) who tend to take things for granted.

  3. dorannrule says:

    How I love this post! My Dad was from Hungary and became a naturalized citizen. He was so proud to be an American. I think it’s very special that you are tutoring would-be citizens like my Dad. I don’t think he had that kind of help when he went through the process.

    • Coming East says:

      Thank you for that comment, Dor. It made me feel good. Having taught many immigrant children in my classes, I know how hard their families work. They deserve ll the help we can give them.

  4. I remember reading that testing material over when my sister’s in-laws were in the process of becoming citizens. I know I could not pass that test. I do however know my branches of government and put them to work as much as possible.

  5. We forget the greatness of our country. A couple summers ago my hubby and I were in the Capital with a friend from CA. We were by the Washington Monument and this man and his family (they were from India) wanted to go up the monument (this is before the earthquake and it’s closure). He asked my hubby and I where he could buy the tickets to go up the monument. We showed him and also heard that there were no more tickets for that day. He was disappointed. He then walked over to a corner of the monument and threw his arms around the granite monument. He stood there for several minutes in the dire July heat and held onto the monument. I looked at my hubby and we both realized how priceless our freedom is. How much we take for granted. I, too, do not contact my representatives as often as I used to. Great post, great kick in the pants. But, also, well done you, tutoring a new citizen, that is exciting! DAF

  6. Lenore Diane says:

    It is so easy to get lost in the ‘everyday’. What a wonderful opportunity for you to teach someone, while re-learning your own lessons. Joe’s teacher is from India, and she reminds me of what America has to offer – provided the people keep their eyes open.

    • Coming East says:

      Yes, Lenore, we need to be vigilant. Americans seem to complain a lot, myself included, yet won’t take the responsibility or the time of making themselves be heard to the right people.

  7. Good for you- what a noble cause. Yes, we forget all the laws and information new citizens have to learn.

    • Coming East says:

      I think when immigrants take that civics test, they would put most of our high schoolers to shame as well as quite a few others of us. And that’s a shame! One thing I do find rewarding is to see how much I actually remembered from school. Guess I was paying attention!

  8. Al says:

    This is a great idea. Our representatives need another citizen to not listen to!

    P.S. I think I have finally caught up on all your blogs. Sorry, won’t let it happen again.

  9. Dianna says:

    Last fall, I had a dental procedure done. The dental assistant was from the Phillipines, and had been in our country a fairly short length of time. She’s doing very well in her career, and sadly, seemed to understand the events happening in our country better than some of us who were born and raised here.
    Good for you – and I could also take a lesson from you in that regard!

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