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International Rescue Committee to begin offering free citizenship classes in Wichita

A woman takes the oath of allegiance during a naturalization ceremony at the district office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Newark, N.J.
John Moore
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A woman takes the oath of allegiance during a naturalization ceremony at the district office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Newark, N.J.

The classes are open to the public as well as clients of the IRC.

After the Wichita-based International Rescue Committee announced on social media it would begin offering free citizenship classes, the group says it saw huge interest from the community.

The citizenship classes are just one part of the often-complicated path to citizenship and will last about 12 weeks.

“We have an exceptionally large class coming up this Friday,” said Tanner Sheldon with the IRC, “and then we've also experienced a lot of people requesting more classes outside of the time that we originally scheduled, so we can accommodate other schedules.”

The class helps people study for their civics exam. The exam has more than 100 possible questions, although people taking the exam are only asked 10.

It’s one of the final steps to receiving citizenship.

“We noticed a lot of our clients found it difficult to prepare for the actual citizenship interviews and exams,” Sheldon said. “So, we looked into materials to build a class to kind of assist in that.”

The class is currently only offered in English, but Sheldon says the nonprofit hopes to begin offering introductory courses in Spanish in the near future.

“We only offer it in English because the exams themselves have to be in English,” Sheldon said. “So we try to encourage the students to practice their English as much as possible since it will be kind of expected of them when they get to that stage.”

The classes are open to the public as well as clients of the IRC.

Sheldon says most clients who take the class do well on the exam – and end up having a breadth of knowledge about United States history and government.

“The kind of funny thing is, oftentimes our students end up knowing more about American history than kind of the typical American because as adults they're forced to study through this material, and they end up enjoying it a lot.”

The classes are currently offered at the International Rescue Committee offices near downtown Wichita on Fridays from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

Kylie Cameron (she/her) is a general assignment reporter for KMUW. Before KMUW, Kylie was a digital producer at KWCH, and served as editor in chief of The Sunflower at Wichita State. You can follow her on Twitter @bykyliecameron.