Citizenship caps immigrant's journey to new life
Vasyl Mattichuk wanted to become a U.S. citizen. "I was a young man from Ukraine who had always dreamed of living in the United States," he said. Fascinated by American culture and disillusioned with the economic opportunities in his homeland, he won the lottery for a green card and moved to the U.S. in 2016.
Vasyl found a job in a local store and worked hard. "I was determined to succeed and to make a better life for myself in my new home," he said. He also traveled, and found that he loved "the diversity of the people and the many opportunities the United States had to offer," he said. "I also appreciated the freedom and the sense of independence that came with living in a new country." He joined a Ukrainian community center and made friends with other immigrants, but also took classes to improve his English.
After several years, he said, "I had been working here, living here and wanted to be a part of this country. I wanted to help this country, I wanted to vote, and travel with an American passport."
He read about District 214 Community Education's U.S. citizenship preparation classes in the newspaper, and signed up for classes in 2021. He said the District 214 teachers were the "best," helping not only in class but also conducting practice interviews.
Citizenship classes are only one facet of District 214 Community Education's long-running programs for adult education. Other offerings include courses to help adults with their English proficiency, to prepare for college classes, and to earn their High School Equivalency. All courses are free, and supported by grants from the federal and state government as well as private donations. The District is celebrating the work of its teachers, students and volunteers during National Adult Education & Family Literacy Week, September 17-23.
Vasyl received financial assistance with his journey to citizenship from the Serafin Fund for Adult Education and Family Literacy. Donations to the fund can be made at links.d214.org/serafin.
For his part, Vasyl said he was thrilled to become a citizen after five years in the U.S. "I was overjoyed when I received my citizenship certificate," he said.
He has been promoted to a new job at his IT company. He is saving to buy a small house, and continues to travel and explore his new country. "I am proud of all that I have accomplished," he said. "I knew that I faced many challenges as an immigrant, but I never gave up. My story is a testament to the resilience and determination of immigrants who come to the United States in search of a better life."