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by Ana Nuncio
Once again this year, The Gables’ Adult ESL and Citizenship program attracted many eager adult students. Since the spring of 2014, The Gables has offered instruction in English as a Second Language and citizenship to adults in Salem and other cities of the North Shore. For the fall segment of the program, students at
tended classes twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, at Salem Academy Charter School. Demonstrating their drive as new immigrants, three new citizens emerged from the citizenship program, led by instructor Néstor Grullón. The proud new citizens are: Luchy Jiménez, Germania Peguero, and Altagracia Zoquier.
As the holidays approached, Altagracia Zoquier had these thoughts to share about her journey and her achievement:
“I am Dominican, although I have a Venezuelan passport. At first I thought I would not be able to become a U.S. citizen, so I’m very happy to have achieved this. I’m already based in this country. I consider it my home because my parents are here, as well as other family members.
When I married many years ago, I left the Dominican Republic and went to live in Venezuela. Recently I had to leave Venezuela, a country that lacks everything, and where people are not safe because there is a lot of insecurity. There really is no quality of life there. The very first time that I came to the U.S. in 1999, I came to visit other family members. Now that I’m a U.S. citizen, I also want to try to have the rest of my children come here.
I want to participate in many kinds of activities in my city. I want to “add my little grain of sand” as we like to say, in my new home. I think that just as one receives good things from the community, one must give back.
I currently work in a daycare center as an aide. Someday I’d like to set up my own daycare center, but first I have to find a good location for it.
I’ve always wanted to vote in this country and to feel like an American citizen. I’ve wanted to become an American citizen since 2016, when I filed my papers. Once I filed my application for citizenship, I felt a huge sense of obligation; I couldn’t rest until I achieved my goal.
Although my children are older adults, I want them to be with me. One son, Junior, lives in Santo Domingo; another son, Javier José lives in Chile. My daughters Paulina and Altagracia are already in the U.S. with me.
What do I think about what’s going on now with immigration? I believe that people who have lived in the U.S. for a long time, who have taken advantage of opportunities to become educated and who have contributed to this country, shouldn’t be deported. Families will disintegrate if this is allowed to happen.”
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