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21 October, 2018

Citizenship Day, 2018

I was beyond excited to work with the phenomenal Project Citizenship for my first Pro Bono job on Citizenship Day, 2018 but in having said that, my nerves were easily twice as present as my excitement was.

We all convened for a bit of a breakfast nibble followed by some empowering, inspirational speeches from the organisers of the event, founders of Project Citizenship and their amazing partners that had me with tears in my eyes.  What they do is more important now given the political climate we're in than it ever has been before and to see people fighting against so much wrongfully placed fear and hate with education, passion and hope is a really special thing to witness and even more so to be able to be a part of.  The fact that these people also happen to be all female and all related to and/or immigrants themselves?  So badass.

BU had been selected as one of the universities who's Law School students were to be put in charge of assisting applicants seeking U.S. citizenship to complete their N-400's.  We received training a few weeks prior and Tala and I both reviewed all of the information we were given religiously before sitting down with our first two applicants for the day but man, were those nerves still present.  There were so many important things to remember, to double-check, and to do in order to ensure that the application was filled out to the best of our ability so to give these wonderful people the best shot possible at being accepted as citizens.

My first applicant was so well prepared, having nearly all of the information required on the application with her or easily accessible.  Part of me was so thankful that my first "client" was all-in-all very "easy" but the other half of me kind of would have preferred to have had encountered a more challenging applicant, like Tala's had been, so that way after that, you're pretty much ready for anything!!

Once we finished off our first applications and sent them off to Quality Control, Tala and I headed across the street to the mosque for our lunch break  I can't get over how generous they were in having not only provided their place of worship to us for our lunch but also having prepared hundreds of warm, home-cooked, delicious meals ready for the volunteers as well.  So nice of them and so yummy as well!! Tala got so excited when she saw the food, not having had a meal like this in over 10 years back in Lebanon.

We convened again for our second and likely last applicants for the day and man, ask and you shall receive.  I was the last person on the floor with the exception of a single other table and the busy volunteers buzzing around collapsing tables and clearing out the track after a long day.  My second applicant, sweet as can be, happened to have lived in about six different states in the past fives years and in multiple different residences within each of those states.  Given that we have to be able to fill out five years of residences, employment, education, work and any travel outside of the US I'm sure you can imagine that this became a very long process.  Once we'd gotten all of them scratched down on a piece of note paper, I began double checking that each entry would coincide with the time and places of the others and realised I was going to need some back-up here if there was any chance we'd be out before nightfall.  It took another two people to get it in order just enough so that the crux of it all was available and made sense for whomever would be helping this young lady to complete her application at a later date as Citizenship Day had, at this time, come to a close.  I'm sad that I couldn't have helped her finish the application in its entirety but I know they'll sort it all out and that she'll hopefully be good to go soon enough!

As nerve-wracking as it was, it was worth the tummy aches by far!! Volunteering with Project Citizenship was, hands down, one of the coolest experiences I've had Boston and I feel so grateful to have been considered for this opportunity and to have had the possibility to assist someone in such a huge milestone in their lives.  I hope to be working with them again soon again but until such a time, thank you and good luck to all of the applicants!!



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