ST. PAUL (Sept. 23, 2014) — 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.
The medical waiver Citizenship classes are taught in both Hmong and English. 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 to 2 p.m. and Wednesday and Thursdays from 12 to 2 p.m. In the last 2 years alone, Hmong Cultural Center has helped more than 150 disabled and elderly Hmong earn their U.S. citizenship through this unique and important program at its offices in Saint Paul.
Since 1996, hundreds of Hmong Americans eligible for medical waivers from USCIS due to age, 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 community including test preparation classes, assistance to the disabled and elderly in filling out medical waiver forms and transportation and translation at the local USCIS office in Bloomington, Minn.
Mee’s Story (Translated from Hmong to English)
Mee is one of the hundreds of clients Hmong Cultural Center has helped earn U.S. Citizenship over the past several years. Here is Mee’s story.
“My name is Mee. I am a 48 year old woman of the Hmong ancestry. I am divorced and have seven children of my own. I came to the United States in September of 2005. Before that, I use to live in a refugee camp in Thailand called Wat Tham Krabok. In that camp, the refugees were treated unfairly because we had no Thai citizenship. Refugees who lived in that camp there often witnessed Thai nationals harassing and cheating the Hmong people. When we were caught working outside of the camp for money, we usually got beat up by Thai officials because we had no work permit. More importantly, we were war torn refugees who were not willing to fight back for equality.
When the Thai government officially closed the camp down in 2003, I decided to settle here in Minnesota, because it is all where my relatives reside. After living here for a couple of months, I started to develop major depressive disorders. This prevented me from learning new things. It meant that I could not read, write, or speak in the English language. When I found out that the Hmong Cultural Center help clients with their U.S. citizenship process, I called and registered to take classes with them. I attended the Monday and Tuesday classes, which started from Noon and ended at 2 P.M. After several months of trying to learn the basic U.S. history and questions, I was helped by my citizenship instructor with my naturalization process and fee waiver. I tested and passed the U.S. citizenship test in the Hmong language. From now on, I can forget about the unequal treatments and harassments from Thai nationals in the refugee camp. Right now, I am looking forward to being a hard working U.S. citizen, who is willing to take an oath to the United States and the constitution. With the help of the Hmong Cultural Center, I was able the get help I needed to be a U.S. citizen.”
Hmong Cultural Center also provides free English language Citizenship Classes open to all community members. English language Citizenship Classes are offered Tuesday through Thursday form 10 a.m. until Noon, and Tuesdays through Fridays from 4 to 6 p.m. English as a Second Language Classes for Immigrant and Refugee Adults are provided at the center Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 4 to 6 p.m.
For more information and/or to register for a free Citizenship or ESL class, please stop by Hmong Cultural Center at 375 University Avenue, Suite 204 in Saint Paul (University Avenue and Western Avenue), call 651-917-9937, visit the Hmong Cultural Center website at www.hmongcc.org or e-mail [email protected]