by Ahmad Zia Afzali
English Skills Learning Center

If one has never attended school nor is able to read or write in any language, then passing the U.S. citizenship test can be a huge milestone that would require years of effort and hard work to become a U.S citizen.

Ibrahim Mohamed came to the United States in October 2004 from a refugee camp in Kenya, but he is originally from Somalia. He became an English Skills Learning Center (ESLC) student in May 2010 and informed us that his goal was to pass the U.S. citizenship test. Being a father of 10 children (two of whom are disabled) and head of a 12 member household, it has not been easy for Ibrahim to be able to attend class or to learn and prepare for the citizenship test. On top of that, Ibrahim never attended school and isn’t able to read and write in any language. However, Ibrahim managed his time in order to attend class provided by the ESLC and worked hard in hopes of achieving his goal: to be an American.

During this period of time he worked with several volunteer teachers who were supported by ESLC staff.  All of his volunteer teachers were so impressed with Ibrahim’s hard work, enthusiasm, and interest in attending class.  Since 2010, Ibrahim has taken the citizenship test four times, once in 2010, once in 2011 and twice in 2012.  While he was not able to pass the test in his first three attempts, he never lost his interest and continued working and attending class. Finally his hard work paid off and he successfully passed the citizenship test in his fourth attempt which was on August 7, 2012!!  I know and feel how much it means to Ibrahim to be a U.S citizen. The ESLC volunteers and staff acknowledge that we have a big responsibility, but together we can accomplish the goals of our students.

Now that Ibrahim achieved his dream he has changed his life and family status.  It is now time to express our appreciation and thanks to our great volunteers who dedicated their time during this long journey to help Ibrahim achieve his goal.  Thank you for making a monumental difference and supporting our mission: bringing the promise of integration, security, and empowerment to adult newcomers in Salt Lake County.

Congratulations Ibrahim and thank you to everyone at the English Skills Learning Center for LIVING UNITED!

***English Skills Learning Center works with United Way of Salt Lake as a Strategy Partner. English Skills Learning Center serves Kearns, South Salt Lake, and West Valley City by training volunteers to teach and supervise English classes for the growing adult newcomer population.***