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Reaching out 

The U.S naturalization test can be daunting with uncertain waiting periods and a $725 filing fee. Although a second chance is permitted on the test for free, the goal of Aracelli Astorga is for local immigrants to pass the first time.

Astorga is the Adult Services Coordinator for the SLO County Library. When Astorga moved to San Luis Obispo from El Paso, Texas, she noticed that a program was not yet in place for community members to learn about the path to citizenship like the one she led in El Paso.

click to enlarge ACCESS:  The SLO County Public Library offers a welcoming space to extend its reach into the community. - FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • FILE PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • ACCESS: The SLO County Public Library offers a welcoming space to extend its reach into the community.

“This is something people might not know to ask for,” Astorga said.

On May 9, Astorga brought to life the first class in U.S citizenship exam preparation at the downtown SLO library. Classes will take place every Tuesday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and are taught in both English and Spanish.

Adults can learn the U.S. citizenship application process, review history and civics, and practice for the reading and writing portion of the exam. Course materials will be covered in an eight-week period, but anyone who’s interested is welcome to join the class at any time because the curriculum will cycle back to the beginning.

Astorga said that a common misconception is that people who are seeking citizenship are only Hispanics or people of Latin decent.

“Citizenship is important for everyone,” Astorga said. “When we think of people who are seeking their naturalization certificate, we tend to think of people south of the border, and that’s not the case. Immigrants come from all over the world, and they’re here.”

Lessons begin with questions about U.S. history, geography, and government. The sessions will also include mock interviews and a review of the unfamiliar vocabulary used on the application. Out of the 100 questions available on the naturalization exam, only 10 will be selected, which makes knowing the material essential to passing.

“I want to emphasize that there is no end date. You’ll know when you feel comfortable to take the exam. My goal is for you not just to understand what the answer is, but to understand why,” Astorga said.

Fast facts

• From the shores of Morro Bay to the Cayucos Pier is a 10K walk or run in support of foster and high-needs children and families. Family Care Network’s fourth annual Miracle Miles for Kids has already raised a little more than $116,000 with registration fees alone. The walk funds services that the network provides, such as: housing, clothing, mentoring, and life skills development for more than 1,400 youth and families. The walk begins at 8:30 a.m., Saturday, May 13, at Morro Rock. For more information about the registration and the walk, visit mm4k.com.

• Celebrate Mother’s Day at the Jack House in San Luis Obispo with flowers, cake, and music. Show your mom some love with this free event Sunday, May 14, from 1 to 4 p.m. Tours of the historic home are $5 and children under 12 years old get in for free—but if all three generations of the family are present, tours are on the house. The serene event takes place at 536 Marsh St. in San Luis Obispo.

New Times Intern Erica Hudson wrote this week’s Strokes and Plugs. Staff Writer Karen Garcia contributed. Send tips to strokes@newtimesslo.com.

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