Celeste Tejeda: November 2012
Since joining the Volunteer Corps, Celeste Tejeda has volunteered at many Citizenship Now! events and attended several volunteer trainings:
Q. Tell us about yourself--do either you or a family member have a personal immigration story?
A. "I am from Dominican Republic, an immigrant like all the participants who come to Saturday events. I didn't know about CUNY Citizenship Now! at the time I decided to become a U.S. citizen, and my experience was hard because I did everything by myself. I took the risk of probably making a mistake. Fortunately, everything went well and a few months later everything was complete. When I started college I found the CUNY Citizenship Now! website, and it made me happy to know there are people helping others, and I said to myself ..."Why not join?" I used to be a volunteer in the Dominican Republic for many years at an institution helping children in the community who came from low income families. Giving our time with joy is more valuable than anything. I encourage others to volunteer as the reward will be to see others happy because of what you just did."
Q. Why do you volunteer with the NYC/CUNY Citizenship Now! Volunteer Corps?
A. "To give back to the community."
Q. Has your knowledge of immigration law improved because of the time you have spent volunteering with us? What have you learned?
A. "Absolutely Yes! I search information online about immigration issues and read posts on Facebook from the White House and other government websites as well; but nothing compares with the amazing opportunity that CUNY Citizenship Now! gives me in every training and event I attend. I have been learning a lot and one of my favorite parts is when I help the people with what I just learned. My knowledge of immigration has been growing even more with the trainings offered by CUNY Citizenship Now! and with the events. I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you to all the staff for the wonderful job they do with the people in the community helping them obtain their citizenship and for making it possible for me to volunteer."
Q. What do you enjoy most at our events?
A. "The part that I really enjoy is when the people ask me for help filling out their N-400 form, this makes me feel that they appreciate our job and they trust us because in these times people care a lot about privacy, and we respect their privacy!"
Q. What are you looking forward to at the next event?
A. "I would like to attend in every event, but sometimes things happen in our lives. However, I know there are many valuable volunteers like me, available to help the community. For future events I would like to have the opportunity to continue providing good service in the area where I will be, and to be part of a dynamic group."
Q. Outside of work and volunteering, tell us about some special hobbies or interests that you have?
A. "One of my favorite hobbies is to walk around the park and the beach, which makes me feel like that moment is only for me and no one else. My thoughts flow easily and I can make plans for the future. Another interesting thing that I consider a hobby is that I love to do research. I choose a topic and look for information about it. I love it! The internet makes it possible along with the library and spending time with people of different educational backgrounds. All these things together are the perfect team to learn more. Because I like to make friends too, I try to learn to communicate with them if the language is an issue. One of my classes in college (Kingsborough Community College) was Hebrew. I already know Spanish. I took French in High School, and English is like a passport to communicate with others. "