By Maggie S.
In my life I have always been taught to use my abilities for good. I fundamentally believe the privileges I have been granted throughout life should never be left unchecked and should be used to help those who have been dealt harder circumstances. My work here at Taller allows me to do just that.
I walked into the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) building when I was shadowing a compañera during my training, fully prepared to learn everything I could and absorb the new environment to the best of my abilities. After I pushed through the revolving door something seemed familiar. When I saw officer Smith’s* kind face at the top of the escalator, I realized I had been there in that very exact spot almost seven years earlier. I had come into this building, checked in at the counter, and been immediately led into a room where I proceeded to swear my allegiance to the United States. Just like that I had become a citizen of the United States. Yet the only part that mattered to me at the moment was the fact that I almost missed my first volleyball game of the season because I had to be at the oath swearing ceremony. As a young teenager, I had been oblivious to all the hard work and time my parents had put into becoming citizens. The vast amounts of paperwork that had to be filled out, the interviews they had to go through, the exams they had to pass, and the absurd fees they had to pay never crossed my mind as I stood on that stage and repeated what i was told to repeat that morning.
From working at Taller for nine weeks, I now understand what the immigration process is like at all stages. My meetings with clients have shown me how overwhelming and difficult to navigate the immigration process can be. I am so proud to play a part in helping clients get legal aid to begin their application and translate the documents they receive. Being back in the USCIS building, but this time not only as a US citizen, but also helping clients through translating their citizenship interviews has been most rewarding. My interactions with clients humble me every single day. Even though they are going through some incredibly challenging times, the hope and gratitude that they continually exude inspires me to be better and work harder both as my career progresses and in my personal life.
This experience has brought me full circle from my youth and showed me that I am meant to be here. I am meant to be using my bilingual ability and immigrant experience to help fellow immigrants who have been dealt tough situations. I had the privilege of getting to be oblivious throughout my naturalization process, but now I can use my experiences and privileges to advocate and accompany others. I am grateful that I matched with Taller at the internship fair and have been able to spend my summer accompanying people through hard moments in their lives.
*name changed for privacy