Valley Opportunity Council Helps Immigrants on Path to Citizenship

Source: MassLive

CHICOPEE - What a visitor encounters in a third-floor classroom in Valley Opportunity Council's Mount Carmel Avenue offices in Chicopee every Thursday evening looks very much like the "face of the world."

About 18 people, each from a different corner of the globe, participate in a 10-week class designed to prepare them for the interview and test they must successfully complete in order to become citizens of the United States.

The road to U.S. citizenship is not easy, and the interview and test aspiring citizens must pass is rendered as part of a one-on-one interview with a U.S. immigration officer. It is comforting for members of this Valley Opportunity Council class that the woman teaching the course has walked in the same shoes as her students.

While the class is small, the impact to participants is life-changing.

For Helena Dixon, the journey that brought her to Valley Opportunity Council, where she serves as instructor of its citizenship Class, started in Brazil. Today, she lives in Ludlow, where, in addition to her career, she joins her husband, a native of New Jersey, as an active volunteer in the community.

Little did Dixon know that the pathway to becoming a U.S. citizen that included taking the Valley Opportunity Council citizenship course would lead to her one day teaching the classes.

Read the entire MassLive article about VOC's Citizenship class: