Immigrant Voices

IIBA Volunteer: Rie Sugisawa

As a naturalized citizen, Rie Sugisawa wanted to use her knowledge of the naturalization process to help others. So Rie volunteers every week at IIBA’s Napa office, administering “mock” interviews to IIBA clients, preparing them for their citizenship interview.   

 

“This is part of my routine life now, because I have been doing it for so long,” Rie says. “It is really easy to get into.”

 

Volunteering since last year, Rie says the experience has been very humbling, and she encourages others to volunteer. “It is refreshing,” Rie explains, “to see what we have and what we take for granted here, from a newcomer’s perspective.”

 

Volunteering reminds Rie that no one decides where they are born or what rights and privileges they are born into. “Coming face to face with that reality on a weekly basis is refreshing and humbling to anyone,” states Rie.

 

Every few weeks, some of Rie’s students return from their citizenship interviews to share their success stories. They thank her and often bring food. “It’s a wonderful feeling,” Rie says. “You helped someone else achieve something that means a lot to them.”

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