American Revolution Museum offers immigrants a place to learn, help pass citizenship exam

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The classroom slowly but surely began to fill in, the dreary weather could not keeping this group away.

It was no school, but rather the Museum of the American Revolution.

The students, coming from across the world, none born in the United States, but Wednesday they all took one step further on the path to citizenship.

The group is either green cards holders or legal permanent residents, but as Juan Giarrizzo from Venezuela and Paul Greenhalgh from England explained, they all desire more.

"We want to join this country to make it better and participate into the political force of change and be active citizens," said Giarrizzo. "We're all from different backgrounds but we're all looking for the same thing," Greenhalgh added.

Both aspiring citizens completed a first-of-its-kind program at the Museum aimed at helping them achieve their dreams.

Over the last four weeks, the group has used the Museum's artifacts, exhibits, stories and free classes to assist them with the U.S. Citizenship test.

"Anybody can read a book, anyone can attend a class but the opportunity to be up close and personal with real objects, artifacts that traveled through time to tell this really amazing story adds context and meaning to things that can seem really distant," said Director of Education Dr. Elizabeth Grant.

Grant, along with other stakeholders said what this group has shown is a respect and care for the country they so desperately yearn to be a part of.

"They don't need to be here, they can study the cards, there's a lot of materials online. I think they are here because they want a deeper context and deeper meaning," said Dana Devon who is project managing the Citizen Initiative.

All of their work led to a graduation ceremony of sorts, each student earned a certificate of completion on Wednesday.

All of them also left with a hope that someday soon they'll not only be able to return to the Museum but go everywhere as United States citizens.

"It means the conclusion of a beautiful cycle that starts as an immigrant and finally joining the country that welcomes you as part of their people," said Giarrizzo.

The Museum says it plans on offering several sessions throughout the year. The next one begins Oct. 28 - Nov. 20. Registration is now open.

For more information and to register, visit http://www.amrevmuseum.org/public-programs/citizenship, or contact 267.579.3503 or citizenship@amrevmuseum.org.
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