Harvard Chinatown Citizenship

Chinatown Citizenship is a naturalization assistance program that serves the Boston Chinatown community. We promote social and political empowerment for Chinatown immigrants through supporting them in the naturalization process for U.S. Citizenship. Our services include courses in U.S. history and government, mock interviews, translations, and resources such as practice audio CDs. We are always happy to answer general inquiries about the naturalization process. Chinatown Citizenship is a part of the Chinatown Committee of the Phillips Brooks House Association. PBHA is comprised of 72 programs, consisting of different committees. Each committee serves a community, and the Chinatown Committee serves the population of Chinatown through seven programs: ESL, Afterschool, Elderly Visitation, Quincy School, Big Sib, Teen, and Citizenship.

Chinatown Citizenship offers free, year-round courses. Our tutors prepare students for the naturalization exam by teaching basic American history and government or practicing conversational skills for the oral interview. Chinatown Citizenship has grown quickly as a program; this past semester, 30 tutors taught over 200 students. Our classes are held Saturdays and Sundays from 1:30PM to 3:30PM. We offer various levels of instruction to address different aspects of the naturalization exam. Our three terms are September-December, February-April, and June-August. During term-time, Chinatown Citizenship classes are held in Harvard's Vanserg Building.

Level I teaches the foundations of American history and basic concepts of American government, along with a bit of ESL training. It also encompasses basic conversation skills needed for the naturalization interview. Since students have limited or no previous exposure to the subject matter, Mandarin/Cantonese will be the primary medium of instruction.

Level II teaches all of the 100 Questions on American history and government (10 of these will be asked on the actual exam). The content is similar to Level I, but classes are taught at a quicker pace and the emphasis is placed on drilling, and fine-tuning speaking and listening skills. Usage of Mandarin/Cantonese is less intensive than in Level I.

Level III begins preparing the students for the actual interview. Level III concentrates on the N-400 form as well as many of the questions that may be asked during the actual interview. Students are expected to have already mastered the basic 100 questions on American History and Civics. There will be very little use of Mandarin/Cantonese in Level III.

Level IV/Oral Interview is comprised of a series of mock interviews for the naturalization exam, which many students have pending, so practice interviews are a major component of the course. Students practice writing and reading simple sentences in addition to drilling the material covered in previous levels. Students should be given every opportunity to practice English, and emphasis is placed on personalized instruction. Classes are primarily taught in English, but Mandarin/Cantonese is used for clarification.

As a student-led organization, we are constantly evolving. The ever-growing popularity of our program reveals the great need for free citizenship instruction in the immigrant Chinese community. We are committed to addressing the ongoing challenges of providing such a crucial and rewarding service.


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