Bosondo Braun: April 2013
Bosondo Braun has been a Volunteer Corps Member since 2011:
Q. Tell us about yourself--do either you or a family member have a personal immigration story?
A. "I'm an immigrant from the country formally known as Zaire, but now called the Democratic Republic of Congo. I came to the United States in 1991 with a one day visa that was given to me at the U.S. embassy in my neighboring country, Congo Brazzaville. I struggled to get my green card. I would go to Federal Plaza in lower Manhattan early in the morning and wait until the end of the day to see if they will call my name. I did this at least three times until I was finally called in and went through the process. After receiving my green card, I finally was able to apply for citizenship and became a U.S. citizen in 1999."
Q. What makes you keep coming to our events?
A. "What keeps me coming is that immigration forms and issues become so complicated compared to when I first came. During those years we did not have any support at all. I was so sick going downtown just to stand on a long line to speak to someone. Now that CUNY Citizenship Now! and many other organizations provide this kind of support to immigrants, I want to be part of it so I can help people and give back to the community. "
Q. Why do you volunteer with the NYC/CUNY Citizenship Now! Volunteer Corps?
A. "I volunteer with CUNY Citizenship Now! because it is an organization that is honest in what they do. They also provide comfort for volunteers and the people they serve. They treat them with respect and dignity."
Q. When volunteering, which is your favorite borough? And why?
A. "Manhattan, because it is my borough. I spent 10 years in Manhattan and that is the borough that helped me become a better citizen. Manhattan has been a big part of my immigrant life experience ranging from free English classes to many other events."
Q. What are you looking forward to at the next event?
A. "I'm looking forward to serve as many participants as we can, and meeting famous figures in the city of New York. Also meeting new volunteers and staff and just having a peaceful event like we always do."
Q. How many times have you volunteered at our events and what makes you keep coming?
A. "I have been a volunteer with Citizenship Now! for almost 2 years. I don't remember how many events I have participated in, but I do know I have been to many."
Q. Outside of work and volunteering, tell us about some special hobbies or interests that you have?
A. "I love to be outside a lot. I like to hike, bowl, and most of all is to go out help those in need. If I have more time I would like to do more community service."
Q. What do you enjoy most at our events?
A. "Interacting with participants and that there is a lot of food at the events even though my stomach cannot eat that much."
Q. Has your knowledge of immigration law improved because of the time you have spent volunteering with us? What have you learned?
A. "Yes, my Immigration knowledge has improved a lot. I learned so many things that I did not know about immigration law. Things like bringing my siblings here, how to file for a child who has one U.S. citizen parent and was born out of the United States and so on."
Q. What is your favorite section of the volunteer newsletter “Citizenship Now! Monthly” and/or volunteer website?
A. "I always like to know how many people were helped at each event and the volunteer of the month stories."
Q. What does community mean for you?
A. "Community means everything to me because as a child I was raised by a community. In my country, we believe that it takes a village to raise a child. Coming to America I became part of the U.S. community even though I did not know anyone. I learned English as a second language by being part of a church community and volunteers gave their time. So community is my life and always will be part of me."
Q. What’s one of your most memorable moments as a volunteer with Citizenship Now?
A. "I have so many, but I will share last year’s Citizenship NOW! call-in training. I felt like I was in law school. I enjoyed that training so much. I enjoy listening to the speakers from every specialty, and their experiences. That was very rewarding to me."
Q. In what way(s) has volunteering with Citizenship Now! impacted you personally?
A. "My family and I always love to volunteer at our local church or school. It's a way of being a blessing to someone. Citizenship Now! makes it easier for those who have no knowledge of how to fill out the immigration forms and by making it possible you are helping me to bring families together. That is why I take time to volunteer here so we can continue to serve many families."