Volunteer Views: Supporting Aspiring New Americans in San Jose
“With the power of a single sentence I was transformed to become an American, a proud citizen of this great country,” says Victor Sin, who first came to the U.S. as a foreign student to attend college in the 1980s. He stayed to work, becoming a work-visa holder and later a legal permanent resident (LPR). Victor became a U.S. citizen in 2000.
As he approached retirement in 2013, Victor began searching for volunteer opportunities that would give him the opportunity to pay back the country that he says has been so kind to him. He became involved with the New Americans Campaign after learning about NAC citizenship workshops in San Jose, California. He has been a volunteer since his first workshop, in August 2013.
Victor now assists clients in filling out the N-400 form, the application for naturalization; and the I-912 form, the request for a fee waiver. As a speaker of Cantonese and Mandarin, he also provides interpretation services for clients at the citizenship events.
For Victor, volunteering reminds him what it was like when he applied for citizenship. He still vividly remembers the moment he took the Oath of Allegiance in his ceremony.
“It was truly a magical moment,” says Victor. “I feel gratified that I am able to help some LPRs in this process. I hope that they will feel the same magical moment as I did.”
While everyone has unique motivation to naturalize, Victor believes that when LPRs become citizens, they have a stronger sense of belonging to the U.S. and they are able to make their voices heard.
“When I filed my application for naturalization I felt, and still feel, more attached to the U.S. than any other place on Earth,” he says.
In addition to his work at citizenship workshops, Victor also gives his time to our San Jose partners at the Asian Law Alliance (ALA) by conducting intake for clients seeking legal consultation, translating and interpreting between Chinese and English for clients, and assisting clients in filling out immigration forms.
Apart from experiencing the joy in helping people, Victor believes it’s important to volunteer to enrich your own life.
“Most people grow up in a particular environment with a particular background. They may not be aware of the challenges or difficulty that other people may face,” Victor says. “By interacting with people from diverse backgrounds during volunteer work, I think that the volunteers can become more socially aware and more philanthropic. The society will, in turn, benefit as a whole.”
Posted on January 22, 2015