Forum to test citizen knowledge

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Lindsey McCormick

In Oct. 2011, Anni Raino, senior marketing major, became a U.S. citizen.

For Rainio, the most difficult part of the immigration process was getting through the test and the length of time it took for the FBI to confirm that her family was cleared.

“You are given an oral exam that tests your knowledge on the United States. The interviewer is very harsh in the way they ask the question because they basically interrogate your knowledge of the history of our country,” Raino said.

She was temporarily supposed to live in the U.S. for five years, but she and her family decided to stay.

“We liked it here; we were comfortable and found that we fit in better in the U.S. compared to Finland,” Rainio Said.

On Tuesday, Sept. 25, Raino will share her experience at an open forum discussion about current immigration issues. The forum will be held in the Williams Center multi-purpose room at 7 p.m., and proof of attendance will be provided.

The event will be administered by Debra Sabia, Georgia Southern University political science teacher.  Students will first have the opportunity to take the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services test that is required of all incoming immigrants.

“We ask students to take the test because we want them to be directly aware of questions that would be asked. Students over-estimate how much they know about American government,” Sabia said.

“We want students to think about what it’s like to be an American. We want them to think about why America seems so unique and wonderful to people on the outside who are trying to live here,” Sabia said.

This same event was held last year at GSU. Approximately 70-80 students attended, Michelle Allen, GSU graduate assistant said. When students got their test scores back, they were shocked and embarrassed. Ninety-nine percent of the students failed.

“They really enjoyed the authenticity of the test,” Allen said.

Students shared personal stories in the forum. The students were able to talk about their family, and how hard it was for their parents or grandparents to come to the United States. Students were curious about other immigrants, and the discussions made them appreciate something that they had never thought about.

Students will come away from this event with a different understanding of what drives immigration and how different it is to come to a new country, Sabia said.

“The students thought the process was transformational,” Allen said.

Attendees will recognize the tremendous hardship to move from a foreign country and to assimilate into the United States.

“We are an immigrant rich country, and we need to celebrate that,” Sabia said.